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MTSU helps faculty understand student veterans’ concerns

True to its veteran-friendly atmosphere, MTSU is holding a series of seminars to empower faculty to help student-veterans on campus.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee signs a statement of support for the National Guard and Reserve inside his office on the MTSU campus in October 2012. The signing came after John Dedman, right, of the Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve agency, presented the university with a Patriotic Employer Award. Looking on are, from left, Dr. Tony Johnston, who nominated the university for the award, Dr. Derek Frisby, Dr. Hilary Stallings and Lt. Col. T.K. Kast, former professor of military science. (MTSU file photos by J. Intintoli)

Each seminar will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. beginning Wednesday, Jan. 30, in the Learning, Teaching & Innovative Technologies Center. The LT&ITC is located in Room 348 in the James E. Walker Library.

“Our hope is to provide faculty with not only an understanding of the veteran population but with some real skills and resources they can use in their classrooms,” said Dr. Hilary Stallings, recruitment and resources manager for the College of Liberal Arts and member of the Veteran and Military Affairs University Committee.

The initial seminar, titled “Toolbox,” will highlight a range of ideas, philosophies and advice for working with MTSU’s growing student-veteran population.

“I think the biggest issue is making sure that the faculty understands the experience skill set that the veterans come to the university with,” said Dr. Tony Johnston, a professor of food science and agribusiness, enology expert and member of the committee.

Johnston, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years and is on active duty in the Tennessee Air National Guard, said military veterans face unique challenges in pursuing a college education, including being ready to be called up for active duty at a moment’s notice.

“As groups get ready to deploy, they have to go to training,” Johnston said. “They have no control over when those dates are.”

Dennis McCall, right, performs at the Nov. 16, 2012, open house of the new Military Center and VetSuccess on Campus office as faculty, staff, students and visitors sing along.

Johnston also said faculty members should know that veterans usually don’t require micromanagement; they are self-disciplined and proficient at time management, he noted.

Stallings said veterans can take University 2020, a course designed to guide veterans through the university bureaucracy. Johnston and Dr. Derek Frisby, a professor of military history as well as a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, are among those who teach the course.

Future seminars include:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27 — a panel of student-veterans will share struggles and successes in transitioning and attending MTSU;
  • Wednesday, March 27 — faculty will discuss best practices in assisting MTSU student-veterans; and
  • Wednesday, April 24 — the final presentation will focus on the counseling needs of student-veterans.

The series will culminate with a reception in the MTSU Military Center, which is in Room 124 in the Keathley University Center. The time and date have not been finalized.

These seminars are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Stallings at 615-898-5039 or hilary.stallings@mtsu.edu, or Johnston at 615-898-2421 or tony.johnston@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

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