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Veterans enrollment, programs increasing at Northwestern

University increases commitment to student veterans

Northwestern University’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) will conduct its annual ceremony honoring veterans early on Veterans Day — this Friday, Nov. 11, at 8 a.m., on the lawn east of University Library.

Also on Veterans Day, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management will hold its annual Veterans Day Celebration honoring and thanking those who have served in the armed forces.

The events come at a time of increasing enrollment of veterans at Northwestern and increased commitment to veterans by the University. This fall, 239 veterans, including 50 on active duty and 58 children or other dependents of veterans who receive veterans benefits, attend Northwestern, said Julia Jenkins, associate director of financial aid in the Chicago office, who coordinates financial aid programs for veterans.

Because most of the students who are veterans attending Northwestern are older than the traditional undergraduate student and many of them already have an undergraduate degree, most of them are enrolled in graduate programs. The largest number of vets are enrolled in the School of Professional Studies (SPS) — 118 students, of whom 105 are graduate students — followed by Kellogg with 70 students.

That number represents an increase from last year when the University had 222 veterans enrolled. Jenkins noted that the figures include only those students who are receiving veterans benefits or who self-identify as veterans, and she said there may be other students who are veterans but who do not receive benefits and do not inform the University of their veteran status.

“We’ve definitely been seeing an increase in the number of veterans enrolling during the past four to five years,” Jenkins said.

Veterans or active-duty service members are enrolled in most of Northwestern’s schools, including Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Graduate School, in addition to Kellogg and SPS.

Northwestern participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides additional financial assistance for veterans beyond the educational benefits they receive through the federal government, which are capped at approximately $22,000 per year. Northwestern’s schools contribute additional financial aid funds, which are then matched by the Veterans Administration. As a result, veterans in some of the schools have all of their tuition expenses covered while in other schools, the cost is reduced significantly.

Increase in Yellow Ribbon Program

As announced last spring, Northwestern also is increasing its financial support for the Yellow Ribbon Program. The University will provide an additional $100,000 in funding for the program, which will enable more military veterans to enroll in Northwestern's programs.

Jenkins also noted that in most recent years, Northwestern has had at least one student receive a Pat Tillman Scholarship from the Pat Tillman Foundation. The highly competitive scholarships provide financial support for tuition and educational expenses for active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses.

Kellogg's relationship with U.S. Army

Kellogg, in particular, has a strong relationship with the U.S. Army. Kellogg is the only U.S. business school with a Chief of Staff of the Army Senior Fellow. Every year the Chief of Staff of the Army selects 11 distinguished senior colonels to be senior fellows. Two are assigned to academic institutions, and nine are assigned to domestic and global think tanks.  Each fellow’s mission is to represent the Chief of Staff of the Army as a strategic scout and ambassador, advising the Army’s executive leadership on emerging opportunities and challenges, cultivating relationships and fostering a greater understanding of the Army. U.S. Army Col. Robert Carr is the fifth such fellow selected for Kellogg. 

This year, Kellogg has added retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Bernard Banks to serve as associate dean for leadership development and clinical professor of management. In addition, retired Col. Robert Hughes, who came to Kellogg as the first Army fellow in 2012, now serves as a clinical assistant professor and senior program director of executive education at Kellogg.

Kellogg’s relationship with the Army continues to grow over time. For example, senior military leaders have served as guest speakers and lecturers, and in recent years, groups of senior Kellogg faculty have visited the Pentagon looking for new opportunities to collaborate. Most recently, a team of 10 Kellogg faculty and administrators was invited for an extended visit to the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin — a place that only a select few beyond the Army soldiers and personnel stationed there ever see. As a result of the visit, the training center is exploring further how it can better use data collected during training to detect and address patterns between brigades.

Number of veterans or dependents of veterans enrolled at Northwestern as of the fall semester

The Kellogg Veterans Association is also one of the most active student groups in the school with events ranging from career networking to an early-morning boot camp-style workout on Deering Meadow. 

“Kellogg has a deep commitment to diversity through every aspect of our school, including students, faculty, administration and alumni,” said Anise Wiley-Little, chief human capital and diversity officer at Kellogg. “We’re incredibly proud of our existing partnership with the military, and we plan to deepen our collaboration by convening more strategic partnerships in the years to come.”

Historic ties to Navy

In addition to Kellogg’s partnerships with the Army, through its Naval Reserve Officers Training Program, Northwestern also has historically had close ties with the U.S. Navy. The program was one of the original six NROTC units established by the Navy in 1926 and has operated continuously since then. Northwestern has educated and graduated officers into the Navy and Marines for nearly 90 years. Currently, 35 students are enrolled in Northwestern’s NROTC program, 15 of them Northwestern undergraduates and 20 from Loyola University.

One of the program’s graduates, Rear Admiral Lisa Franchetti, a 1985 journalism alumna, was honored recently as the Alumnae of Northwestern Award recipient by the Alumnae, which is the organization of female alumni. Adm. Franchetti is Chief of Staff J-5 on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C. She previously was the commander of the Navy’s Carrier Strike Groups 9 and 15, based in San Diego.

Looking to the future

Northwestern is working to provide more support and services for veterans throughout the University, said Todd Adams, assistant vice president and dean of students. A working group of administrators from Student Affairs, the Office of the Provost, the School of Professional Studies and other offices will focus on how to respond to the veterans community, Adams said. Among the goals, the working group hopes to increase activities of the Northwestern University Veterans Association, a University-wide student group for veterans that was founded several years ago.

“This year we plan to inventory the current services offered to veterans across the University, take a look at best practices, both internally and at other institutions, and determine what unmet needs might exist,” Adams said. “The University and its schools definitely are committed to attracting veterans as students and serving and supporting them while they’re here.”