Panel Discusses Higher Ed Veteran Resources, Credits

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor John Carey said he expects the guidelines set by recently-signed HB488 (Dovilla-Landis), the military veteran higher education policy portion of the mid-biennium review (MBR), will make the state “a destination for veterans, where veterans from other states will want to come here because we have such a strong program.”

Carey and other Board of Regents (BOR) officials were joined by Ohio State University (OSU) leaders on campus Monday to discuss the implementation of these policies, such as the requirement that all higher education public institutions ensure equivalent credit is awarded for military training, experience and coursework by July 1, 2015. 

“We know that our veterans have served us and made great sacrifices for our country, and that they have gained valuable experience while serving in the military. One of the examples that we use – if they’re a paramedic in the military they should be given credit for that when they come back if they want to be an emergency medical technician or something else in the medical field,” Carey said. 

He said it is important for Ohio public colleges and universities to have a “standard way of assessing that credit when they enroll at Ohio State or any other university.

“For example, they may get credit at Ohio State for their experience for being a paramedic ... but if they went to another institution in the state they would not get credit, and they may charge for what credit they get,” Carey said. “So we want to have a uniform way to make sure they receive credit for the experience that they have and that they’re not charged for it.”

Carey said protocol around that issue and several other policies, most of which need to be established by Dec. 31, 2014, are being developed by the BOR’s Military Strategic Implementation Team (MSIT). Mike Carrell, OSU assistant provost and director of military and veterans services, is part of that team, which includes leaders from several other public colleges, BOR members, the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. 

Carrell said MSIT is looking for common training or experience that different types of military veterans receive in order to establish what college credits should be available.

“We know that the officers or non-commissioned officers, they’ve been in the military five years, eight years, they’ve been through some types of training or education. So what are some commonalities in there like public speaking, leadership and management, so maybe we could give credit for the introduction to public speaking and things like that,” Carrell said. “Right now there are some easy ones like physical fitness. We know we've all gone to boot camp and maintained that. So those are some of the easy ones but we’re finding more and more as we look at it.”

Carey said the law will aid other public colleges and universities that he said likely want to provide better resources for veterans, but do not have the resources or high number of veterans on campus such as the 2,200 veterans at Ohio State. Carrell said the central database for military students the state is developing will be a useful tool for all universities involved.

“Veterans are coming in with a very varied background. So if you’re a Marine that worked in infantry with eight years’ experience, we may not see a Marine with that type of background for a couples years here, but Wright State might get someone tomorrow who is like that,” Carrell said. “So when we start to pool them all together across the state we will begin to see commonalities, whereas it may have taken us years or a smaller school 10 or 15 years before they see that type of student show up and have to reevaluate those same courses.”

Paula Compton, BOR associate vice chancellor and co-chair of MSIT, said the implementation team will have a meeting this fall with all higher education public institutions to make sure they all understand what policies will need to be in place by the December deadline. She said around five or six representatives from each university are expected to participate, and that MSIT team members have been productive in coming to agreement on policies.

“Our institutions … have been very, very supportive of their staff members doing this work because we need three to four weeks, and we meet four to five hours, and there’s a lot of work to be done outside of our meeting time,” Compton said. 

Wayne Carlson, OSU vice provost for undergraduate studies, told Hannah News after the event that the university is already following every policy required by HB488, so a transition will not be an issue for OSU. He said the university has made its program information available to other Ohio public universities to ease their development of similar programs.

“We want to be the model for how universities provide these services,” Carlson said.
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on July 14, 2014.  Copyright 2014 Hannah News Service, Inc.