Office of Veteran and Military Affairs Staff

Ronald Novack (Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.)J Ronald Novack

Executive Director of Veteran and Military Affairs (jrnovack@syr.edu)

Ron Novack has served as the Executive Director for the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) at Syracuse University since 2015. He leads a campus portfolio responsible for all programs and initiatives related to supporting the over 1,500 military-connected students, family members, and faculty and staff veteran workforce at the university.

Prior to his arrival at Syracuse University, Ron served 33 years on active duty in the United States Army – both as an enlisted soldier and officer – and retired as a Colonel in 2015. He served in the 101st Airborne Division, 82d Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, 3rd Infantry Division, and U.S. Special Operations Command (USASOC). Ron commanded an airborne supply company in the 82nd Airborne Division and a Supply and Services Troop in USASOC; an 850 soldier battalion in the 10th Mountain Division with a 15-month deployment during “The Surge” in Iraq; and a 3,000 soldier brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division with a nine-month deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. He has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq five times.

Ron completed his undergraduate degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland. He also holds an MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an M.S. in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., and an MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Lauren Pyland

Operations Manager (lewhitmi@syr.edu)

Lauren Pyland Portrait

Lauren Pyland is the Operations Manager in the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, responsible for assisting the Executive Director in daily operations, mission and financial operations. In this role, Pyland will also provide planning and execution of events, oversight and coordination of veteran and military related offices across campus.

Originally from Northern New York, Pyland first came to Syracuse to complete her undergraduate degree at Syracuse University.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. While at Syracuse University, Pyland participated in the Army ROTC program and commissioned from the program upon graduation in 2012. Pyland currently serves as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Jennifer Pluta, G’15, GCDF, CMCS

Assistant Director, Veteran Career Services (jrpluta@syr.edu)

Jennifer Pluta Portrait

Jennifer Pluta is an accomplished career services professional and champion for the career pathways of student veterans.  In her role as Assistant Director of Veteran Career Services at Syracuse University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, she directs and manages the services that assist student veterans, alumni veterans, faculty, and employer partners in the career development and employment needs of student veterans. As a member of the University community for over 15-years, Pluta provides career advising expertise to students and alumni veterans regarding the job-search process, interviewing, resume, and letter writing, and all other facets of career planning through one-on-ones, workshops, conferences, and career immersion trips. Pluta is an Army Reserve Career Counselor serving as Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve. Currently, she serves as the Chair for the Syracuse University’s Veterans Affinity Group (SUVA), a group open to all members of the University community. Pluta oversee the group’s activities, such as professional development, networking events and volunteering. Pluta holds a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS), a Global Career Developmental Facilitator (GCDF) certificate. She is a graduate of Alfred University earning a B.A. in Sociology, in addition to an M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Syracuse University.

Student veterans can schedule an appointment with Jennifer through Handshake.

Jessica Calhoun

Assistant Director for Veteran and Military Admissions (jcalhoun@syr.edu)

Jessica Calhoun is the Assistant Director for Veteran and Military Admissions in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs at Syracuse University. She oversees the recruitment, advising, admission, and enrollment of active-duty service-members, veterans, military-connected students, and ROTC cadets. Jessica travels to military bases, community colleges, DOD high schools, and military junior colleges to talk to prospective students about the opportunities Syracuse University. Prior to her role in Admissions, Jessica worked in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs at Syracuse University as a Financial Aid Counselor. In her role, she advised undergraduate and graduate students and student veterans on all aspects of federal, state, and institutional aid and veteran benefits.

Originally from San Diego, California, Jessica worked in the private sector for several years before transitioning in to higher education. Her career in higher education started in 2009 at California State University, Chico, where she worked as a Financial Aid Analyst in the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. While at CSU, Chico, she served as a Veteran Educational Support Team member, Writing Mentor, Women’s Lacrosse Coach, and Teaching Assistant. During that time, she also received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and began a Master of Arts degree in Composition and Rhetoric.

Jessica has over a decade of work with veterans and active-duty service-members, both in higher education and in the private sector. She continues to champion the areas of veteran access, inclusion, and advocacy through her work and volunteerism.

Joseph Torok

Director of Information Technology (jitorok@syr.edu)

Torok serves as the Director of Information Technology, providing leadership, strategic planning and overall coordination of computing and information services to all entities of Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) at Syracuse University. Working in conjunction with the University’s CIO Office and the University Technology Leadership Committee he leads both the IVMF and the OVMA in technology advancement, in support of Syracuse University’s long-standing commitment to veterans and their families.

Torok has over 20 years of experience in Information Technology, both in field and in management roles. Prior to joining IVMF, Torok served as the Technology Program Director at Bryant & Stratton College where he was responsible for overseeing and future growth of four technology programs of study including Network Technology, Security Technology, Office Information Technology and Mobile Application Development. With his passion for technology and lifelong learning, he illustrates the connection between technology and entrepreneurial success as well as between technology and personal development. He is a strategic, analytical intellectual who encourages learning by doing, discerns whether those he supports comprehend the delivery of new and challenging information, and shows sensitivity to learning barriers and motivation triggers by using metaphors, examples, and analogies to clarify understanding and to make difficult concepts memorable.

Throughout his career, Torok has been a leader on many technology initiatives such as the design and implementation of a hands-on network/security student lab environment for 16 college campuses and presentations that include “The Hidden Dangers of Wireless Networks,” “Moodle in the Classroom” and “It Takes a Hacker to Catch a Hacker”.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and a master’s degree in Networking and Network Security from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Stephanie Salanger

Director of Communications (ssalange@syr.edu)

Stephanie Salanger began as director of communications at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) in 2017, bringing with her more than 25 years of experience in advertising agency and corporate communications roles, covering integrated marketing, public relations, and media relations in a variety of business industries.

Salanger is responsible for driving the national strategy of both the IVMF and OVMA as well as enhancing the reputation of the Syracuse University brand with regards to its imperative of supporting military-connected audiences. She spearheads the communications and design team to deliver impactful messaging and reputation management for the 10 programs within the entrepreneurship, community engagement, education and research portfolio pillars of the IVMF and OVMA.

Salanger previously held senior-level communications roles at Eric Mower and Associates, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. She helped with the development and execution of Time Warner Cable’s national Connect a Million Minds STEM Initiative – a national program challenging parents, mentors, students and employers to increase involvement in after-school STEM-related activities. Her STEM in Sports initiative and STEM Regional Science Festival received telecommunications industry Beacon Awards in 2014 and 2015 and she was awarded several Public Relations Society of America and American Advertising Federation awards for her community engagement, publicity and marketing efforts on behalf of a variety of former clients.