Story submitted by Charles Booth, APSU
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Earlier this month, the federal government developed “8 Keys to Success” to help veterans succeed on college campuses, and Austin Peay State University joined more than 250 community colleges and universities across the country in agreeing to implement this new initiative.
However, the rollout of the “8 Keys to Success” will be much easier at APSU since the University has a long history of supporting veterans, active duty military personnel and military families.
“About 20 percent of our students have a military connection, and we’re proud of the fact that more veterans choose Austin Peay than any other public university in Tennessee,” APSU President Tim Hall said. “We feel it’s our responsibility to honor their service by providing them with all the assistance they need to earn a college education and pursue the career of their choice.”
The new federal initiative, which is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, encourages institutions of higher learning to support veterans as they enter the college environment. The “8 Keys to Success” developed to achieve this goal include the following:
1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size).
5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion.
7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.
8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.
APSU already meets those “keys” through a variety of services, including the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell, the University’s Military Educational Task Force, the Student Veteran Organization and the APSU Military Student Center. Other APSU offices, such as Residence Life and Career Services, have spent years developing methods to assist veterans entering the University.
An example of the University’s efforts in this initiative includes its long commitment to the first “key” of creating “a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community.” In addition to the services listed above, APSU hosts a Military and Veterans Graduate Recognition Ceremony three times a year. During the ceremony, veterans, reservists and active duty military personnel are given a red, white and blue cord to wear with their cap and gown during commencement. The students are also presented with a special APSU Military Coin. The University created the coin in 2011 as a way to honor these individuals.
“The keys to success encourage institutions of higher education to support veterans with access to the courses and resources they need to ensure that they graduate and get good jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “I’m proud of the great work community colleges and universities are doing to embrace these measures.”