Eastern Kentucky University has earned a Top Ten ranking, the highest possible, from Military Friendly® (militaryfriendly.com) in the Large Public category. EKU received a Gold ranking last February, but several veteran and military student-focused initiatives in the last two years moved EKU into the Top Ten. EKU is the only university in Kentucky to earn Top Ten distinction in this category for the 2021-22 rankings released recently by Military Friendly® (militaryfriendly.com/schools/).
“As an institution we are extremely proud to earn this achievement. We have always and continue to stand ready to serve our military veterans and their families. We are dedicated to their success in helping them achieve their goals and dreams,” said EKU President Dr. David McFaddin. “We know our veterans are dedicated to their studies, their communities and their country, and that’s what being a Colonel means at EKU,” said EKU President Dr. David McFaddin.
Eligibility is based upon a core set of outcome data, namely degree transfer, advancement, graduation and/or job placement. Supplementing this data are responses from participating colleges Military Friendly® deem to be critical in helping veterans thrive on campus--and later in the workplace, with Top Ten rankings going only to the highest-performing institutions in these six categories: Academic Policies and Compliance, Admissions and Orientation, Culture and Commitment, Financial Aid and Assistance, Graduation and Career, and Military Student Support and Retention. Eastern was the only institution in its category to score a perfect 100 in the Culture and Commitment category.
“We are so excited to see our hard work toward making EKU the best possible university for veterans pay off. Our team is dedicated to supporting these students and providing opportunities to better themselves through the power of higher education. EKU is committed to being among the nation’s leaders for veteran education, and we will continue our work to be a role model for other universities,” said Barbara Kent, Director of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs.Eastern is continually ranked as a top vets friendly school. The “Military Times: Best for Vets” 2020 rankings once again placed EKU in the top 10 percent of public universities in the nation and number one in Kentucky as the University prepares to offer new services, programming and additional scholarship and financial resources for its veteran and military students and their families (https://stories.eku.edu/programs/eku-continues-number-one-best-vets-kentucky).
In August, EKU unveiled its state-of-the-art veterans center (https://stories.eku.edu/students/eku-vets-center-dedicated), dedicated specifically to veteran and military students. The EKU Veterans Education and Transition Support (VETS) Center is a 3,000 square foot space in the heart of campus dedicated to supporting these students in their educational and life endeavors. The center boasts a 1,500 square feet open area designed for EKU veteran and military students to socialize, study and hold events and includes lounge furniture and group work stations. A customer service desk staffed by VA student employees has charging stations, a retractable large-screen projector, computer stations and printers and a hospitality station with café-style seating. “We want to recreate the same sense of community that our veteran and military students and family members experienced while serving. It was very affirming when one of our parents remarked ‘Wow, it’s like a mini-USO.’ That is the experience our students deserve,” Kent said.
As part of its VETS|Ready campaign targeted towards the retention and graduation of its veteran and military population, Eastern implemented initiatives including establishment of a Student Veteran Emergency Fund, veteran and military spouse transition workshops, mandatory Military Cultural Awareness Training for all faculty, staff, and student employees, as well as extracurricular programming designed to engage both resident and online students and enhance their feeling of belonging, one example of which is the recent establishment of the Kentucky Alpha Chapter of Omega Delta Sigma, the first co-ed veterans fraternity in the Commonwealth and one of only 14 in the nation.
These initiatives, coupled with Eastern’s existing Reduced Active Duty Rate for eligible service members, maximum transfer credit awarded for military training and experience, and choice of accredited resident and online programs exemplifies Eastern’s reputation as a School of Opportunity and long standing belief that veterans, military service members and families offer a unique academic and social perspective. This strengths-based approach demonstrates the commitment EKU has towards their success, making them more likely to achieve their academic goals and go on to serve other veterans and their communities.