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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s public two-year and four-year colleges and universities, including West Virginia Northern Community College, are pledging increased support for student veterans during events to be held through the state’s “5 Star Challenge” initiative, which launched earlier this fall. The Challenge, which calls on institutions to adopt a set of exemplary standards for supporting student veterans, is a tribute to the military tradition of issuing “challenge coins” to service members who embody the values and standards of their military units.
College and university presidents from throughout West Virginia, including Dr. Vicki L. Riley, WVNCC president, will participate in ceremonies pledging their commitment to fulfilling the goals of the Challenge. During each ceremony, student veterans representatives will present the presidents and other campus leaders with a “5 Star Challenge Coin.”
All public undergraduate institutions in West Virginia have committed to accepting the challenge, which calls for 1) signed commitments from college and university presidents to adopt best practices and standards, 2) a focus on increasing access and affordability to higher education for student veterans and military service members, 3) increased academic support including priority registration for classes, 4) enhancing social networks for veterans and military service members on campus and 5) greater collaboration with community organizations working to meet the needs of military service members. A detailed outline of the Challenge and a list of challenge coin ceremonies can be found at www.cfwv.com, the state’s free college and career-planning website.
According to 2015 spring enrollment data, more than 2,700 students are enrolled using Veterans Affairs benefits within West Virginia’s two-year and four-year public higher education systems.
“We are proud to announce that all public four-year institutions in West Virginia have accepted the ‘5 Star Challenge,’” Dr. Paul Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said. “Their participation in this effort not only acknowledges a sincere commitment to meeting the unique needs of our student veterans but also results in real policies that will provide tangible benefits to military service members who are pursuing higher education. By providing student veterans with services such as priority registration and building stronger support networks on campus, we are honoring their service to our country and equipping them with the resources they need to succeed.”
“Our two-year public colleges are fully committed to providing resources and support to ensure the success of our student veterans,” Dr. Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, said. “Student veterans contribute so much to our campus communities through their service to our country and their leadership in the classroom. Accepting the ‘5 Star Challenge’ is a way for us to acknowledge their contributions and sacrifices — and to assist them in balancing both their educational pursuits and their unique experiences as past or present military service members.”
The 5 Star Challenge is an initiative of the Office of Veterans Education and Training Programs within the Division of Student Affairs at the Commission and WVCTCS. In addition to issuing the challenge to campuses, the Commission and WVCTCS are committing to providing more resources to help student veterans navigate the higher education system and find support on campus and in the community.