Vermont NASPA and Southern Vermont College Sponsor Workshop on Veterans in Higher Education

August 9, 2013

Photo: (L-R) – Thom Anderson, Professor, Lyndon State College; Karen Gross, President, Southern Vermont College; and David Vacchi, U.S. Army (Ret.), Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“Veterans in Higher Education: Fostering Support and Success” was the focus of a workshop co-sponsored by Vermont National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and Southern Vermont College (SVC). The event, which took place at Castleton State College in June 2013, provided an overview of the ways college administrators and community organizations can create the best environment for the success of veterans who transition into higher education.

Anne Hopkins Gross, Dean of Student at Southern Vermont College, and Director of Vermont NASPA, welcomed attendees and introduced the three keynote speakers.
Karen Gross, President of Southern Vermont College, shared her experiences designing programs to help Vets transition successfully from military life to college life. While in Washington as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Department of Education, President Gross served on an interagency task force that was tasked with redesigning the transition assistance program for exiting service men and women, a requirement of the newly enacted VOW Act. President Gross offered resources, approaches and solutions that will facilitate Veteran access to and success in college.  She also referenced the College’s new Veteran Mountaineer Scholar program.

David Vacchi, U.S. Army (Ret.), Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, presented a conceptual model for student Veteran success.  Vacchi spoke on how he builds on previous models that lacked robustness, moving instead to a model that is more comprehensive and includes support and academic relationships as well as continuity of veteran specific services. His own military experience has informed his work in this now critically important effort to help the 1.4 million returning service members.

Thom Anderson, Assistant Professor, Mountain Recreation Management, Lyndon State College, spoke on “The Importance of Sustaining a Student Veterans Club on Campus with Strong Faculty Support.” His presentation identified the challenges Veterans who return from the battlefield face in the college environment. Those challenges include navigating complex and often-frustrating benefit programs, difficulty adjusting to the rhythm of academic life and coping with combat injuries.  He explored how clubs can ease these issues, even without extraordinary financial resources. He also discussed the leadership capacities of Veterans – within an organization and a campus.

Sara Patch, Assistant Dean of Students at Southern Vermont College who is overseeing SVC’s new Veteran initiative, organized the workshop. “It’s critical to look at the whole picture when working with Veterans in higher education,” said Patch. “Our speakers did an excellent job illuminating pathways to success for Veterans from the macro to the micro level.”

Participants from many institutions and organizations were in attendance, including representatives from Becker College, Castleton State College, Dartmouth College, Green Mountain College, Middlebury College, Siena College, University of Connecticut, Vermont Veterans and Family Outreach Program and the Vermont Veteran Centers.

NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. We serve a full range of professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success in concert with the mission of our colleges and universities. Founded in 1919, NASPA comprises more than 13,000 members in all 50 states, 29 countries, and 8 U.S. Territories.
For more information: