Lt. Col. Jim Humphrey (retired), associate dean of students and director of veteran services at Lipscomb University, was recently invited to speak to the Governor’s Task Force on Veteran Education.
Humphrey was asked to share information about Lipscomb University’s veteran services program, which is considered by many to be one of top programs in the state.
“This was a phenomenal opportunity to share elements of our program and ideas I feel could be emulated across all institutions of higher learning with representatives from across the state,” said Humphrey.
Lipscomb’s veteran service program was recognized as one using best practices across Tennessee and was highlighted during the February meeting of the task force. Members of the committee including Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and Tennessee State Senator Dolores Gresham declared Lipscomb’s veteran program as “the gold standard within Tennessee,” Humphrey said.
Since its inception in fall 2009, Lipscomb’s Yellow Ribbon Program has graduated 104 student veterans. Students have performed well academically with 71 percent of currently enrolled student veterans maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA, with 13 percent of those maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. This semester, more than 200 student veterans are enrolled at Lipscomb University.
Lipscomb University officials believe strongly in helping open doors for student veterans through the Yellow Ribbon Program. For veterans who qualify for 100 percent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, Lipscomb University has committed to allocate the necessary funds to allow them to earn a tuition-free undergraduate degree through the Yellow Ribbon Enhancement Program. The university also offers qualifying student veterans a variety of graduate degrees tuition-free or at a greatly reduced tuition rate.
Lipscomb University has been named among the top universities in the nation for serving student veterans. The university has been on the 2014 Military Friendly Schools® list for five consecutive years. The list recognizes the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that provide services and programs to ensure that military service members, veterans, their spouses and dependents are successful on campus. Military Advanced Education also awarded Lipscomb University the designation of a “Top Military-Friendly University” in its “2014 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities.” In addition, Lipscomb University’s College of Business was ranked in the top 25 in the nation in the Military Times’ 2013 Best for Vets: Business Schools rankings.
In November 2013, Haslam announced the formation of a task force to evaluate how to best serve Tennessee’s veterans seeking a certificate or degree beyond high school.
“When the men and women who have served our country come home, we want them to be able to get a high quality, good paying job,” Haslam said. “Earning a certificate or degree beyond high school is an important part of that process.
“Over the last several years, enrollment of veterans in Tennessee colleges and universities has more than doubled. While cost is often a barrier for many students to post-secondary education, that isn’t usually the case for veterans due to federal grants and other scholarship support. We need to better understand what unique obstacles veterans face in completing their education and work with them to overcome those obstacles and graduate.”
The task force is charged with identifying common educational hurdles for transitioning veterans; researching best practices to serve student veterans; and making recommendations on improving opportunities for veterans to earn a certificate or degree beyond high school.
The task force is part of the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative to raise the number of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree beyond high school from where it stands today at 32 percent to 55 percent by the year 2025.
The committee will be evaluating these and other programs collected from various veteran advocacy groups as it prepares to make recommendations to Haslam in June. The task force is chaired by Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder.
For more information about veterans services at Lipscomb, visit www.lipscomb.edu/veterans.