Eastern Kentucky University continues to climb the Military Times’ Best for Vets ranking, moving up to No. 9 this year among public institutions, making it the top-ranked school in Kentucky for veterans and other students connected to the military. The University ranked No. 15 in 2019, the last time the survey was conducted.
More than 300 schools participated in the 2021 Best for Vets survey, which included more than 70 questions regarding costs, policies, programming and services. Data from the U.S. Departments of Education, Veterans Affairs and Defense also help inform the rankings.
“We are proud to earn this achievement as we strive to better serve our military veterans and their families,” said EKU President Dr. David McFaddin. “Being known as a ‘Best for Vets’ school is the direct result of the dedication of our faculty and staff to providing the services needed in helping these students achieve their academic goals.”
Improving the campus infrastructure for student veterans has been a priority for Barbara Kent, Director of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at EKU. The Veterans Education and Transition Support (VETS) Center opened in August of 2020 as a key feature of that improving infrastructure. The 3,000 square foot facility located in the Powell Student Center is designed to physically and emotionally support student veterans.
“The fact that our veteran and military students have a dedicated space in the heart of campus to socialize, engage with their peers, participate in programming and events, as well as receive a variety of services is a key component to ensuring they have the resources and support they need to achieve their academic goals,” Kent said. “This space clearly demonstrates the commitment and value the University places on these students and recognizes the unique cultural and social perspective they bring to campus.”
While the VETS Center serves as an important physical space for students, the programming inside the Center is just as critical, said Kent.
“Retention and graduation rates are a top priority in terms of consistently evaluating our policies and programs to ensure that our students have what they need to be successful,” she said. “Having a centralized ‘one-stop-shop’ is a critical component to be able to provide wraparound services and support.”
Thornton Gallimore, a 20-year Air Force service member and EKU nursing student, said the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs has served as a valuable resource during his collegiate experience.
“OMVA has not only taken my family in as their own, but they have supported us and connected us to resources in many ways,” he said. “The OMVA staff is very proactive in connecting me with great resources and opportunities, scholarships, transcripts, academic advising, stress relief activities and outstanding networking for connecting with other veterans.”
In addition to this ranking, EKU is also the only university in Kentucky to be named a Top 10 Military Friendly® School and a Military Friendly® Spouse School.
EKU is home to nearly 1,500 veterans, active duty service members, Reserve/National Guard members and military spouses and children. For more information about services available to them, visit va.eku.edu, or contact the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at 859-622-2345 or email them at EKUVeteransAffairs@eku.edu.
To see the complete 2021 Best for Vets rankings, visit https://colleges.militarytimes.com/.