U, state make efforts toward veteran-friendly education

Jamie VanGeest

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced last week he is requiring the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to identify barriers to veterans.

Since last fall, the University has been trying to make the University a more welcoming place for veterans, but there are still some kinks in the armor.

Glenn Griffin joined the Navy in 1976. By the time he retired in 2001, he had served as a chief engineer and division head. He also had three children and a mortgage. Griffin was laid off in 2002 from his full-time job and has found only part-time work since then.

Last summer, Griffin applied for admission to the University at the same time as his son Michael Griffin, who is now a first-year College of Liberal Arts student.

Glenn Griffin was a first-time student but wasnít considered a transfer student and was too old to be a first-year student.

He therefore wasnít able to find an orientation to fit his status as a student. Griffin tried to go to his sonís first-year student orientation, but he found out he missed the date.

Now Griffin is considered a continuing education student. Because he never has been to college, he is taking a math course to establish his academic record.

Griffin said he spoke with University employees at the St. Paul campus last summer before he started as a student. A few employees said he might want to consider a different school for establishing his academic record, he said.

Before starting at the University in the fall, he said a University employee also told him he didnít have a good shot at getting into the Carlson School of Management. Griffin then called the Carlson School, and the school said his previous work experience would make him an excellent candidate.

Although Griffin said he has experienced difficulties in the past, he said he noticed services for veterans at the University have improved since the beginning of the academic year.

Mary Koskan, director of One Stop Student Services, said the University has been making extensive efforts to help veterans transition into the school.

The University is developing a brochure covering the six GI Bill categories veterans receive benefits through.

The University is creating a Web site for veterans that will include the brochureís information, pay rates for veterans, a link to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a link to Web Automated Verification Enrollment.

The University also is planning for a veterans committee and a separate orientation for veterans. Through the orientation, veterans can become aware of their benefits earlier on in the process.