EKU Earns Top Two Ranking for Military FriendlyⓇ Schools

Published on April 08, 2024

By Ethan Sirles

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) has achieved a significant milestone in the 2024-25 Military FriendlyⓇ Schools ratings, rising to the No. 2 spot from its previous position of No. 3. EKU proudly holds the No. 2 ranking nationwide for Military Spouse Friendly Schools, further solidifying its dedication to providing comprehensive support to the military community.

“It is our greatest honor at EKU to serve those who have served our country,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “We are proud to be recognized yet again as one of the best in the country for Military FriendlyⓇ Schools. This award solidifies what we have known for a long time—EKU is a great destination for veterans and their families. We have worked tirelessly to ensure they have the support, facilities and programming to reach their goals.”

More than 1,800 schools across the country participated in this year’s Military FriendlyⓇ Schools survey. To receive a ranking, institutions must meet a variety of standards, including thresholds for retention, graduation, job placement, repayment, persistence and loan default rates for all students, specifically for student veterans.

“I owe EKU and the ROTC Department more than words can express for what I have achieved in my life,” said LTC (Retired) Michael McClellan, who graduated from EKU in 1967. He went on to serve 22 years in active duty, including a tour in Vietnam, eventually retiring in 1990. 

Dr. April Bixler, a two-time EKU graduate and now professor of veteran studies at EKU, said, “After my military service was over and I was contemplating where to settle, I couldn't think of a better place than where I was born: Richmond! I had an incredible experience in the EKU online master's program Safety, Security and Emergency Management (SSEM). For my master's, there were so many connections from my military experience that really tied into my program. I always felt supported.”

Because her time as a master’s student was a success, Bixler said she decided to use her GI Bill benefits—which help veterans pay for college, graduate school and certificate programs—again for an Education Doctorate (EdD).

Bixler also said the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs (OMVA) and the faculty and staff who run it really helped her during her time as a student. “They are dedicated to serving veteran students and their needs,” she said.

As part of EKU’s commitment to veterans education, the 3,000-square-foot Veterans Education and Transition Support (VETS) Center provides a centralized campus space just for veterans and military service members. Other recent investments include the relocation of the EKU Veterans Memorial to Carloftis Garden; and the Kit Carson Commons Scholar House, prioritizing affordable housing for single-parent military service members and veterans enrolled in an approved post-secondary institution. Additionally, EKU was awarded a five-year federal grant for a Veterans Upward Bound program to prepare first-generation, low-income veterans to enter post-secondary education. 

EKU is home to over 1,600 veterans, active duty service members, Reserve/National Guard members and military spouses and children, as of Fall 2023. For more information about available services, visit va.eku.edu, or contact OMVA at 859-622-2345 or EKUVETS@eku.edu. 

To see the complete list of 2024-25 Military FriendlyⓇ Schools, visit militaryfriendly.com/schools/.