On Monday, May 10, University of Utah academic leaders, as well as military officers, elected officials, and community
members gathered at the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s Sutherland Moot Courtroom for the official announcement of the U’s new National Center for Veterans Studies (NCVS).
The NCVS will be jointly operated by the S.J. Quinney College of Law and the College of Social and Behavioral Science. Its mission is to improve the lives of veterans and their families and further advance American values, prosperity, and security.
“It is critical that the extraordinary men and women who have given so much have a genuine belief” that we recognize their contributions and sacrifices, University of Utah President Michael K. Young said in his introductory remarks.
Young, whose parents served in the armed forces during World War II, further noted that there are currently 23 million veterans in the U.S. and 161,000 in Utah alone.
He explained that the Center will allow the U to “coordinate and expand our work with veterans.” “This is a deeply self-interested gesture on our part, but one we hope has a tremendous positive impact on the country” as well as on the U campus.
David Rudd, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science, explained that the Center’s three initial strategies include research on veterans’ issues; education and training; and outreach to veterans. In 2011, the Center will work with researchers and practitioners to develop and host its first “Best Practices” conference, which will focus on veterans’ mental health issues. Underwriting support for that conference will come from Overstock.com, Rudd said.
Hiram Chodosh, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, discussed the “capacity gap,” at home and abroad, and said that tapping into veterans “special talents and experiences” would help to fill that gap.
Noting that there are broad unmet needs in disciplines ranging from engineering to law, and in both the public and private sectors, Chodosh announced the creation of a pilot program for a National Service Academy.
The Academy will recruit veterans into undergraduate and graduate programs at the U of U in an attempt to leverage their unique talents and experiences for use in the public and private sectors in the U.S. and around the world, according to Chodosh. Service Academy students will enroll in a series of core courses together as they pursue degrees in their respective individual majors. The program is the first of its kind in the nation and will serve as a template for other colleges and universities to use to create their own service academies to educate veterans.
Captain Wayne Porter, U.S. Navy, added that “We too frequently see veterans as part of the problem set.” The Academy, he continued, “offers opportunities for growth, not just for veterans,” but for anyone to serve the country. “It lets civilians share the rich experience and enthusiasm of our veterans,” he said.
Sen. Bob Bennett, himself a veteran, noted that the success of the all-volunteer armed services has had the effect of distancing many Americans from the experience of serving in the military. “The V.A. must adapt to new challenges and new circumstances and put the muscle of academic research behind the [Service Academy] in a very salutary way.”
“I’m very excited about the U’s willingness to get involved in this challenge,” Bennett added.
For more information on the National Center for Veterans Studies, visit http://ncvs.law.utah.edu/