Building upon its long history of opening doors to veterans since World War II, Villanova is preparing to unveil a dedicated physical space they can call their own. This fall, the University will open the Prince Family Veterans Resource Center in the lower level of Vasey Hall.
The center will serve as a student common area for studying and networking, a designated location for hosting veteran-focused programming and a place for student veterans and service members to congregate and build community. The new space was made possible by a gift from Brian F. Prince, president and CEO of Hegemon Capital, Inc., as well as gifts from the Labrecque Family and Tripp Keber ’90 CLAS.
The resource center will also house the new headquarters of Villanova’s Office of Veterans and Military Service Members, which was established in 2018. “Our goal is to provide opportunities for the enrichment and growth of our student veterans and create an environment where they can feel connected to one another and have a sense of belonging, a sense of home,” says Director Michael Brown, who is also an Army veteran.
In two short years, the office has become a go-to resource for Villanova veterans, providing tailored support, from admission and advising to career networking and the transition from military to civilian life. More than 100 student veterans are currently enrolled at Villanova, so the office already attracts a steady stream of visitors in its temporary space.
Daniel Heald ’21 CPS is one of them. “It’s a great place to meet other veterans,” says Heald, who completed a four-year tour in the Army and discovered his passion for business at Villanova, where he's studying Organizational Development and Management in the College of Professional Studies. “Sometimes it’s difficult to connect with the younger students on campus, so it’s a good place to socialize and get acclimated to the University.”
The office also helps student veterans to navigate financial assistance. With support from a recent $3 million gift from Martin McGuinn ’64 CLAS, ’67 JD, Villanova is looking to increase the number of student veterans on campus by further expanding its Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides additional funding toward the cost of tuition and fees and currently has 40 students participating. The University also forged a new partnership with Service to School’s VetLink Program in October 2020, increasing opportunities and access for qualified veterans transitioning to higher education.
Since April 2020, student veterans have also been building new friendships and sharing their service experiences virtually in the Veteran Lounge, a Zoom session that CPS and Brown host every other Friday. Josie Ojeda ’22 CPS, who has served in the US Air Force for the past 22 years, says she values the time to chat with fellow veterans and the connections she's made through the virtual lounge. “We’re able to express the challenges we’re facing, whether personal or professional,” says Ojeda, who is studying Organizational Development and Management. “It’s a great sanity check to ensure that our spiritual, mental, physical and emotional needs are being addressed.”
Through these programs and other initiatives offered through the Office of Veterans and Military Service Members, the University is dedicated to increasing the student veteran population even further. “Our veteran community has already grown dramatically in the past two years, and we hope to see continued growth,” Brown says. “Veterans are a diverse group of people who bring a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience to our classrooms and our Villanova community.”
Student Documentary Explores the Veteran Experience
Veterans from across the country tuned in on Veterans Day for a panel discussion and virtual screening of Warrior Class, a new documentary following the journey of three veterans from their years of service to the challenges of transitioning successfully to civilian life. Created by Villanova University students in the Social Justice Documentary Film course, the film tells the stories of Marine Corps veteran Timothy Wynn and Army veterans Erica Webster and Mike Woody ’14 MBA. To watch a trailer for the film, visit villanova.edu/warriorclass.
Veterans are a diverse group of people who bring a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience to our classrooms and our Villanova community."
Michael Brown, Army veteran and director, Office of Veterans and Military Service Members