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ASU helps task force support "Boots 2 Books" veterans symposium

June 24, 2009 -- Arkansas State University will join forces with other educational institutions and the Education Subcommittee of the Governor’s Yellow Ribbon Task Force in sponsoring the State of Arkansas Veterans Symposium for Higher Education, Thursday, June 25, at Camp Robinson in Little Rock. The symposium opens at 7 a.m. with registration and concludes at 5 p.m. The theme of the conference is “Boots 2 Books: Serving Veterans on Campus…Best Practices.”

Higher education throughout the state of Arkansas can expect to experience an increase in the number of veterans on campuses during the next several years. The Yellow Ribbon Task Force, consisting of 20 appointees by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, is seeking to identify the needs of student veterans, improve their access to services, and to reduce barriers to full participation in campus life.

Other institutions supporting the symposium include Northwest Arkansas Community College, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, the Arkansas National Guard, and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

“We are thrilled to have more than 37 of Arkansas’ two-year and four-year institutions of higher education participating in this event that is designed to provide a unique opportunity to collaborate on efforts that support veteran’s education in the state,” said Susan Tonymon, co-chair of the Boots 2 Books Symposium, and the director of ASU’s Beck PRIDE Center for Wounded Veterans.  She is also a task force appointee.

“Currently, there are more than 10,000 Arkansas National Guard members who have been deployed in Iraq. The new Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistant Act of 2008 GI Bill takes effect in August and colleges want to be prepared to welcome these service members and remove educational road blocks.”

Speakers from national education organizations will make presentations and engage in discussions regarding attracting student veterans and meeting their campus needs. The conference seeks to initiate dialogue between Arkansas institutions of higher education in order to develop “best practices” regarding the education of veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

In addition to remarks by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, other speakers include Major General William D. Wofford, the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard; George Westmoreland, chair of the Governor’s Yellow Ribbon Task Force; Dr. Jim Purcell of the Arkansas Department of High Education; and Dr. Jim Selbe of the American Council on Education. The symposium also includes several panel discussions.

“This symposium focuses on having ‘military friendly campuses’ and will provide an open forum for leaders in education to engage in discussion on how to introduce innovative programs and best practices that will offer creative solutions to educational road blocks for veterans as they make the journey to and through higher education,” concluded Tonymon.

In addition to Tonymon’s presence on the task force, Chancellor Robert L. Potts of Arkansas State-Jonesboro serves on the YRTF education sub-committee.



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