Syracuse University, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families Discuss Veterans Issues at Stand-To Event


Syracuse University and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) were among the participants at the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To summit. The summit, which focused on veteran transition, convened key leaders from government, higher education and the private and philanthropic sectors to outline key priorities and a cohesive action plan to help more veterans and their families thrive.

Chancellor Kent Syverud and J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and IVMF executive director, participated in the event, which included the nation’s foremost experts participating in the summit.

Chancellor Syverud appeared on a panel consisting of high-profile leaders in higher education, including Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of Education and president of the University of North Carolina system; and Admiral (ret.) William McRaven, Chancellor of the University of Texas System. The panelists discussed some of the most pressing issues facing veterans and their families as identified by a working group led by Vice Chancellor Haynie. Health and well-being; education; and employment were just a handful of the topics discussed.

Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush delivered remarks, and U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin participated in a conversation moderated by POLITICO. The event will also feature a congressional panel on issues faced by transitioning veterans.

Syracuse University’s Ryan Gross Named 2017 Tillman Scholar

Ryan Gross grew up hearing stories about his grandfathers’ military experiences during World War II, leading tank units through the Battle of the Bulge and serving on a Navy destroyer in the Pacific. Inspired by their service, he accepted a commission in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer. After his deployment with an infantry battalion in Baghdad, Gross transitioned from the Army to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), where he leads intelligence analysis.

Gross, a graduate student in Syracuse University’s master of public administration program (M.P.A.) in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, has been named a 2017 Tillman Scholar in a cohort representing 61 U.S. service members, veterans and military spouses across the nation. The newly named class, funded by the Pat Tillman Foundation, will receive more than $1.1 million in scholarships to pursue higher education degrees.

“These scholars are tackling challenges across national security, healthcare, technology, civil rights and education. They believe their best years of service to our country are still ahead of them, and they are working together to strengthen communities at home and around the world,” Marie Tillman, co-founder and president of the Pat Tillman Foundation said in a statement released on June 8. “In Pat’s spirit of service, we are proud to unite and empower them as our country’s next leaders.”

Gross says he is honored to be selected as a Tillman Scholar and is eager to begin his studies in Syracuse University’s renowned M.P.A. program.

Through his experiences in Baghdad, Washington, D.C., U.S. Central Command, and three civilian deployments to Afghanistan, Gross witnessed how “one size fits all” policies developed at the national level do not always translate effectively to the tactical environment, requiring commanders on the ground to determine how to tailor policies to fit their battlespace. He plans to use his M.P.A. degree to build upon the leadership and decision-making skills he gained through his career and to hone his policy development expertise. His goal is to create flexible, effective policy that will meet military commanders’ and soldiers’ operational needs on the ground.

In 2014, Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud identified four pillars to guide the future growth of the University, one of which was ensuring the University once again became the best institution for veterans and their families. J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and the executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, works closely with Chancellor Syverud on that important effort. He says he is proud of the University’s partnership with the Tillman Foundation and is pleased Gross selected Syracuse University for his academic pursuits.

“Syracuse University is honored to have Ryan as part of our academic community and to celebrate him as our first Tillman Scholar recipient,” says Haynie. “The purpose and mission of the Tillman Foundation aligns well with Syracuse University’s commitment to be the best place for veterans. The education Ryan will receive and the skills he will develop during his time at the Maxwell School will well equip him to inspire positive and impactful changes in military operations.”

The scholarship honors Pat Tillman. In 2002, Tillman, a starting safety for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, put his football career on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Pat’s death in April 2004 while serving with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. The foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through scholarship and programmatic support, and is dedicated to building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.

Founded in 2008, the Tillman Scholars program supports our nation’s active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses by investing in their higher education. The scholarship program covers direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books and living expenses, for scholars who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degrees as a full-time student at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution. The selection process for the Tillman Scholars program is highly competitive.

Each year, the foundation collaborates with 15 University Partners to identify and select qualified applicants on their campuses for the Tillman Scholar screening process. Syracuse University was named a University Partner in 2016, selected for its innovative veteran services, strong culture of support for military veterans and spouses and its rigorous academic programs.

About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university of extraordinary academics, distinctive offerings and an undeniable spirit. With a gorgeous campus in the heart of New York State, a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, our University is made for those who want a quintessential college experience. Proudly selective, we take a chance on people who dream big. This is where you come to cheer, to grow and to become the person you want to be. The scope of our University is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries. Syracuse University’s proud commitment to veterans and their families is unrivaled in higher education. From the leading role it played in the original G.I. Bill, to launching the nationally recognized Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the University continues to honor and expand upon this legacy.

About the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University
The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is Syracuse University’s home for innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research in the social sciences, public policy, public administration, and international relations. It is the # 1 ranked school in the nation for graduate education in public affairs, offering highly regarded professional degrees alongside advanced scholarly degrees in the social sciences; and it is home also to undergraduate programs across the full spectrum of social sciences.

Maxwell scholars conduct wide-ranging research through nine interdisciplinary centers, each focused on a topical area within public affairs, such as social and economic policy, conflict and collaboration, public wellness, aging, energy and environment, national security, regional studies, and more. For more information, please visit:

Military Veterans to Attend Academic Boot Camp at Syracuse University

Intensive program helps prepare enlisted veterans for transition from military to four-year college.

Syracuse, New York – For some military veterans, the first day of school at a new college or university is as challenging as a deployment to a foreign country. Immersion in a new culture and reintroduction to a demanding academic environment can make the transition from military to higher education difficult. To ease the transition, the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is hosting an intensive one week academic boot camp at Syracuse University beginning Sunday, June 18.

The Warrior-Scholar Project coordinates immersive academic preparation courses for enlisted military veterans of any skill level at America’s top universities. The program is designed to help military veterans develop and rediscover the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete four-year undergraduate degrees. Because veterans are non-traditional students with unique experiences distinguishing them from their college peers, WSP also uses the boot camps to help prepare participants for the emotional and cultural adaptations required to succeed in a higher education setting.

“We are proud to host a Warrior-Scholar Project Academic boot camp at Syracuse University for the 2017 year,” said Dr. Sidney Ellington, Executive Director of WSP. “The program at Syracuse will tap into the immense potential of Post-9/11 veterans and reduce obstacles to success, addressing veterans’ misperceptions about college and building their confidence through an intense academic reorientation.”

WSP launched its first program at Yale University in 2012 with nine participants. Since then, WSP has expanded to encompass 12 top schools, including Syracuse University, and is on track to host more than 200 veterans at boot camps across the country in 2017. In addition to Syracuse University, WSP graduates have gone on to enroll at top schools including Yale University, Harvard University and Georgetown University.

“Stepping onto a college campus is intimidating for anyone, and can be even more so for active or veteran service members,” said Mike Haynie, Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families – Syracuse University. “The important role the Warrior-Scholar Project plays in engaging these military members with universities around the U.S. is vital to their future career success. We are proud to be a part of that work, and we look forward to hosting this year’s participants this summer to share our educational experience with them.”

Each WSP boot camp is run by a team of student veterans, and taught by university professors and graduate students. An intensive syllabus composed of both classic and modern scholarly works guides participants as they learn how to frame their ideas in an academic context, think critically, and formulate scholarly arguments. Participants not only learn the subject-matter material; they learn how to learn.

“Because of their technical training and diverse, cross-cultural experiences, military veterans have much to contribute to higher education, beyond their strengths in discipline, teamwork, and resilience,” said Corri Zoli, Chair, Board of Academic Advisors – WSP and Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism – Syracuse University. “Yet too often veterans are an uncommon sight at four-year colleges. The presence on Syracuse University’s campus of venerable veterans’ programs such as the Defense Comptrollership Program and the Military Visual Journalism Program, means our partnership with WSP is a natural fit, and it works exceptionally well. As an instructor, I can attest to how this college-readiness program strives to make veterans part of a wider academic conversation and to become campus leaders.”

“This course was a rigorous challenge which prepared myself to succeed in my studies at Syracuse University,” said Adam LeGrand, WSP program alumni. “The focused reading and writing skills have enabled me to anticipate earning honors this past semester; I highly recommend this course to any veteran considering returning to higher education. The contacts and support I have received in my goals of attending law school from WSP staff and alumni have by far been the most important outcome for myself.”

WSP funders and private donors cover the entire cost of the program for participants, excluding travel. Student veterans attending Syracuse University boot camp will reside in campus housing and attend lectures in various classrooms.

To learn more about the program, visit

About the Warrior-Scholar Project
The Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) runs immersive academic boot camps hosted at America’s top universities for enlisted military veterans, and is funded by the prestigious Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The majority of enlisted personnel exiting the military have not been in a classroom setting for several years, and find it hard to transition, being unprepared for the fundamentally different social and cultural environment. WSP helps veterans rediscover and develop the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete 4-year undergraduate programs in higher education. WSP unlocks their educational potential and transforms the way veterans view themselves as students. For more information, visit, email or call 202-796-8777.

About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university of extraordinary academics, distinctive offerings, and an undeniable spirit. With a gorgeous campus in the heart of New York State, a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, our university is made for those who want a quintessential college experience. Proudly selective, we take a chance on people who dream big. This is where you come to cheer, to grow, to become the person you want to be. The scope of our university is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries.

Syracuse University: Gateway for America’s Veterans (Video)

Syracuse University: Gateway for America’s Veterans highlights Syracuse University‘s commitment to the military and our nations veterans– both past and present. Today, student veterans and military-connected students, receive support from dedicated staff from the moment they consider applying to long after they have left the University. Watch the following video to learn more about our story of supporting those who have served our nation!


Simulations Guide Veterans Facing Challenges in Higher Education

Syracuse University researchers from The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), the Office of Military Affairs (OVMA) and the School of Education (SOE) collaborate to develop simulated interaction models (SIMs) for veterans transitioning into and currently enrolled in higher education.


March 1, 2017. From feelings of loneliness to anxiety, veterans may face many challenges transitioning into or acclimating to campus life. In an effort to help those with such difficulties, researchers from the IVMF, OVMA and the School of Education at Syracuse University will begin the process of developing simulated interaction models, better known as SIMs, for veterans in higher education. According to Nick Armstrong, Ph.D., Senior Director for Research and Policy, for IVMF, such challenges exist and are ones that he knows all too well. “Unfortunately, research shows that many veterans express more angst over fitting in on a college campus than going back overseas on their n’th combat tour. And, I lived this in my own experience here at Syracuse a decade ago,” says Armstrong.


Benjamin Dotger, professor of Teaching and Leadership at the School of Education, (SOE), has been using SIMs for over a decade to prepare pre-service teachers and educational leaders.  Dotger’s SIMs builds from medical education’s use of simulations, where future physicians engage with standardized patients. Dotger and colleagues use SIMs to study how future teachers and leaders engage in direct, face-to-face interactions with carefully trained actors who serve as standardized parents, students, or colleagues.  Situated in a simulation room at SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Clinical Skills Center, a future educator faces the questions, statements, and issues that a standardized individual presents, working to synthesize the content knowledge, instructional practices, and professional dispositions taught within the School of Education. Simulations are then video recorded, allowing for structured, systematic, data-informed reflection by those who participate.


The clinical simulations, specific to veterans and ROTC members, will be designed using data gathered from Syracuse University student veterans getting ready to transition on campus and those currently enrolled at SU, along with those who have graduated. The simulations will be structured to model situations that veterans may face when they come to campus in order to help them better transition to campus life. According to Dotger, while currently in the initial stages, this project has the potential to be ground breaking. “This project presents a potential game-changing opportunity for higher education to, on the one hand, develop better tools that would support veterans’ transition to campuses across the country and, on the other hand, prepare the future professoriate and student affairs cadre on leading practices supporting student veteran success.”


Additionally, says Dotger, “it is critical that we both recognize and support our veterans as they – and their families – transition from military service to collegiate study.” Clinical simulations are opportunities to practice engaging in specific situations.  “Our hope, he says, is that SIMs will help veterans’ practice the transitions – the tough situations and unforeseen challenges – in an environment that is supportive–we expect the project to build community among cohorts of veterans as they transition to SU, and we expect the project to offer support to veterans as they join the broader SU community.”


The SIMs for veterans in higher education project is set to begin next month. For more information, visit the IVMF, OVMF or SOE websites at,, or


About the Syracuse University School of Education (SOE)

The mission of the Syracuse University School of Education is to prepare thoughtful and socially just leaders who bridge scholarship and practice. Through collaborative partnerships and multifaceted inclusive approaches, we enhance student learning and success, physical activity and health, and mental health and wellbeing across communities. For more information about the School of Education, visit,


About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education, and policy issues impacting veterans and their families. Through its professional staff and experts, the IVMF delivers leading programs in career, vocational, and entrepreneurship education and training, while also conducting actionable research, policy analysis, and program evaluations. The IVMF also supports communities through collective impact efforts that enhance delivery and access to services and care. The Institute, supported by a distinguished advisory board, along with public and private partners, is committed to advancing the lives of those who have served in America’s armed forces and their families. For more information, visit and follow the IVMF on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

LT C.W. Harold Douglass- You Should Know His Story

LT C.W. Harold Douglass is an alumnus of Syracuse University, and a military veteran. You should know his story, because it’s a Syracuse University story – one that speaks to our past, our present, and our future.

In 1916, Douglass graduated from New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, where he was heavily involved in his academia and extra-curricular activities. He was the editor of the Daily Orange and of the Empire Forester, the official publication of the College of Forestry, and served as an associate staff of the Onondagan. Douglass was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon, Pi Delta Upsilon, Tau Theta Upsilon and Alpha Xi Sigma fraternities. He was also a member of the senior council.

Upon graduation, he was hired by H. H. Franklin Company as an Assistant Advertising Manager. After a year, he moved to Washington in pursuit of a position as assistant editor of American Forestry. Soon after his move to Washington, the United States entered into World War I, and Douglass enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Assigned to an American aviation section in France, LT Douglass became part of the elite Royal Flying Corps (RFC) with the task of directing and observing artillery fire and undertaking photographic reconnaissance.

On June 11, 1918, Lieutenant Douglass was killed in action when his plane fell behind German lines. He left his base on a scouting trip over “No man’s land”, where he flew over German lines and never returned. The specifics of Lieutenant Douglass fate are still unknown. The RFC was still new at the time of LT Douglass death. Having been established six years earlier, it was still in its experimental stage of arming aircraft, and the rate of fatal accidents was still very high. Because of his bravery during his time of service, Lieutenant Douglass won the admiration of his British and French comrades, as a Royal Flying Corps member.

The Douglass Memorial, designed by fellow classmate Hollis J. Howe and erected by his graduating class of 1916, is a tablet placed in the rotunda at the New York State College of Environmental Science and Forestry, honoring his life, career, and service to the nation.

C.W. Harold Douglass is an alumnus of Syracuse University and a veteran of the U.S. military. You should know his story.

Pat Tillman Foundation


Are you an active-duty service member, veteran or military spouse pursuing your higher education? The Tillman Scholars program unites the best talent and leadership in the military community to make a significant impact in the fields of medicine, law, business, policy, technology, education and the arts. The application to become a 2017 Tillman Scholar will open from February 1 – March 1, 2017. If you’d like feedback on your essays and resumes, please visit

Click Here to Learn More About Eligibility and Benefits

Student Veterans Perform at Syracuse Stage in ‘Separated’

For one night only on Jan. 18, Syracuse Stage, in partnership with Hendricks Chapel, the Syracuse University Student Veterans Association and the Syracuse University Office of Veterans and Military Affairs, presents “Separated,” a theater performance based on the personal experiences of eight Syracuse University student veterans.

"Separated" graphicThe performance takes place in the Storch Theatre in the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama complex at 820 E. Genesee St. at 7 p.m. “Separated” is a free, non-ticketed event open to the public on a first come, first served basis. A pre-show reception with free hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar begins at 6 p.m.

“Separated” is a collaborative effort between members of the Syracuse Stage artistic staff and the participating student veterans. Syracuse Stage associate artistic director Kyle Bass interviewed the students about their experiences in and out of military service. From the interview transcripts, he devised and composed a performance script that weaves each student’s individual story into a single narrative. The students will perform the finished script as a staged reading directed by Syracuse Stage’s new artistic director Robert Hupp.

The service experience of the eight students—Nick Brincka, Halston Canty, Zack Couch, Ginger Peterman, Brandon Smith, Jake VanMarter, Zack Watson and Kierston Whaley—include tours of duty in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and represent the Army, Navy and Marines. The title “Separated” references the separations each has endured in first separating from home and family to join the military, and then separating from the military to resume civilian life.

“Each of the eight student veterans in ‘Separated’ has a compelling and necessary story to tell,” Bass says. “Taken as a whole, their narratives of courage, fear, doubt, perseverance, purpose, uncertainty, loyalty, vulnerability, struggle and survival create a moving portrait of human truth. It’s thrilling and an honor to be entrusted with the stories of their experiences.”

The performance will be followed by a moderated question-and-answer session with the cast and creative team. A live stream will be broadcast on the Syracuse Stage Facebook page during the performance.

“Veterans have a world of experiences before they enter the classroom. ‘Separated’ allows the veteran students to share their stories and enlighten non-veterans,” says Syeisha Monquesse Byrd, director of engagement programs for Hendricks Chapel. “We are providing the audience a rare opportunity to ask questions that they may have felt awkward asking in any other setting.”

“Separated” is supported by a grant from Campus Compact and the MLK Day of Service.

“’Separated’ represents the beginning of what will be a new phase of engagement with area veterans, active duty military and their families. In the coming months Syracuse Stage seeks to build meaningful and genuine relationships with our military community,” says Hupp. “We start our journey with a theatrical event driven by the experiences of those veterans closest to us here on the Syracuse University campus. Honest and unvarnished, ‘Separated’ offers keen insight into lives lived so close, and yet so far away.”

Syracuse Stage is a Blue Star theater offering discounted tickets to its regular season shows for area veterans and active duty military and their families.

University Selected to Become Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner

pat-tilman_1-220x200The Pat Tillman Foundation has selected Syracuse University as its 15th Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner. Syracuse joins 14 other University Partners, including Columbia University, George Washington University and Georgetown University. The selection process is by invitation only from the Pat Tillman Foundation.

“The staff, faculty and students of Syracuse University are committed to the success of military-connected students and their families,” says Marie Tillman, president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “In the spirit of Pat’s legacy, we are proud to partner with Syracuse to help more student veterans and spouses realize their potential as leaders of their communities and our country.”

Founded in 2004, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in the future of military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships—building a diverse community of leaders committed to serving others. Tillman Scholars are selected on the basis of their extraordinary academic and leadership potential, their true sense of vocation and their deep commitment to create positive change. As a University Partner, at least one Syracuse University student veteran each year is guaranteed to become a Tillman Scholar.

Pat Tillman during his football days

Pat Tillman during his football days

“The University is honored to be named as a Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner,” says J. Michael Haynie, Syracuse University’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). “The purpose and mission of the Tillman Foundation aligns well with Syracuse University’s commitment to be the best place for veterans, and we’re excited and honored about the opportunity to welcome our first Tillman Scholar to campus.”

The Tillman Scholars application will open Feb. 1, 2017, and will be due on March 1. Interested students should plan to work with Syracuse University’s Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising ( on their application materials. Students who have questions regarding the application process can contact Jolynn Parker at

In 2002, Tillman put his National Football League career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Tillman’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Created to honor Tillman’s legacy of leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships—building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.