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Staff Sgt. Salvatore Persico, 436th Aerial Port Squadron ramp shift supervisor, moves U.S. Agency for International Development ventilators to be delivered to Moscow, Russia, on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III assigned to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, June 2, 2020. Dover AFB’s strategic location facilitates the expedient delivery of supplies throughout the globe, including Russia, where the COVID-19 outbreak is worsening and there are the third-highest number of cases in the world and the highest number of cases in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail) (This image has been altered for security purposes)
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UD rises to No. 4 in Military Friendly rankings

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense

University honored for its commitment to student veterans and their families

Supporting the brave women and men who have served in the United States military has always been a priority for the University of Delaware. On Wednesday, Feb. 17, these efforts resulted in a prestigious national accolade.

UD moved up to No. 4 from No. 7 among top research universities as a Military Friendly School for 2021-22, in a comprehensive review by the Viqtory military marketing agency, and given a “Gold” award, meaning the University’s military initiatives are considered standard setting. The designation recognizes colleges with a proven record of positive employment and education outcomes for veterans and their families.

“This is a credit to the many faculty, staff and students who have invested in creating a veteran-friendly climate on our campus,” said José-Luis Riera, UD vice president for student life. “And it also speaks to our desire to see this commitment grow.”

Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were assessed using public-data sources measuring retention rates, loan-default rates and other factors, as well as responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools were evaluated, with 747 earning honors of one level or another. UD was judged against 28 others in the Tier 1 research institution category.

The University’s initiatives include the 2019 launch of the Veteran and Military Success Center on campus. This space serves as a hub for members of the military community at UD, a place to connect, find resources or simply hang out and study. It also serves as homebase for the offices of the Blue Hen Veterans, a registered student organization, and the University’s Student Veterans Services unit.

“We all benefit from diversity,” said Meaghan Davidson, assistant dean of students. “Veterans bring a unique experience to our campus — they add value in our classrooms, our research labs and our student organizations. We need to honor this experience.”

The University is looking at strategies to create more pathways to a UD education for military personnel. As part of this work, units across campus are collaborating with the world-renowned Biden Institute. Named for President Joe Biden, a 1965 graduate of UD for whom veterans’ issues are a primary concern, the research center faculty and staff are “supporting the work of increasing access to higher education broadly for veterans and applying that to UD specifically,” Riera said.

While aspects of these plans are still being formulated, one thing is certain: The military community on campus will have a hand in shaping this vision.

“It is important for us to engage with our military students, to make sure we are hearing them and including them in the decision-making process,” Davidson said. “This is an exciting time for our veteran students to be on campus.”

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