ISSUED: 29 August 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University has done a great job meeting the 5 Star Challenge to provide good service to veterans according to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC). On Veterans Day 2015, Shepherd was one of several colleges across West Virginia accepting the 5 Star Challenge.
In a letter to President Mary J.C. Hendrix, L.G. Corder, director of Veterans Education and Training for the HEPC, said, “I’m happy to report that Shepherd University has either already met or has a plan to meet every aspect of the Challenge. So, in sum, you’re crushing it.”
Under the 5 Star Challenge, colleges and universities agree to meet requirements in five categories: commitment from institutional leadership, access and affordability, academic support, cultural and social support, and community collaboration.
“I was very happy with the report,” said Mary Beth Myers, Shepherd’s Veterans Support Services coordinator. “It feels really good. We’re going in the right direction as far as support for veterans. I’m looking forward to the future and what we can offer.”
Corder’s letter notes two efforts by Shepherd that are particularly successful—the new Veterans Center in the Free School on Princess St., which he calls “one of the best in the state,” and community collaborations like the Team River Runner chapter.
“We hope to get more veterans to utilize the vet center. My office will have an event there each week,” Myers said. “We certainly are working with the community and the VA Medical Center on Team River Runner. That program has really expanded and gives veterans a chance to come over from the VA and work together with Shepherd University staff, student veterans, and students at Shepherd.”
Myers said Shepherd did well in the access and affordability category by meeting the requirements to execute federal agreements in a timely manner. In the academic support category the letter noted that Shepherd has representatives in the Office of the Registrar trained to work specifically with veterans and is giving veterans priority registration for classes.
“We started priority registration in the spring 2016 semester and veterans really took advantage of that,” Myers said. “The reason it’s so important is because they’re here on the GI Bill and they only have a certain length of time to complete their studies. If they have priority registration they’ll more than likely get their classes before they’re closed.”
The letter suggests areas where Shepherd can make improvements, including fostering more community outreach, offering more training for faculty and staff about the needs of veterans, and connecting alumni with currently enrolled veterans.
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