UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State has signed the new U.S. Department of Defense Voluntary Education Partnership agreement, which re-authorizes the University — through all campuses and learning centers — to provide higher education opportunities to active-duty military service members, veterans and family members who use military tuition assistance programs.
“Signing this agreement is one more way Penn State is reaffirming its long-established commitment to higher education opportunities to the men and women, and their children, who have given extraordinary service and support toward securing our nation’s liberties,” Rob Pangborn, interim executive vice president and provost, said. “We look forward to welcoming veteran and active-duty military service members and their family members to Penn State, at our campuses and through online studies.”
Penn State’s involvement with the military began more than 150 years ago, through its federal land-grant charter, with the introduction of military studies. In 1916, Army ROTC was established at Penn State, followed by Naval and Air Force ROTC, resulting in the commissioning of more than 7,600 ROTC graduates to date.
In 2012, Presidential Executive Order 13607 established new principles of excellence for educational institutions serving the individuals using federal educational benefits extended through the original and Post-9/11 GI Bills. The goal of the executive order, administered by the Department of Defense, is to ensure beneficiaries receive “the information, support and protections they deserve.” The agreement runs for five years starting March 1, 2013.
Enrollment of active-duty military service members and veterans at the University has risen significantly in recent years. This student population now can be found on many Penn State campuses, as well as online, where these students comprised 15 percent of total World Campus enrollment during the 2011–12 academic year.
“Online education is an ideal fit for active-duty military personnel because they can learn when and where it is convenient,” Wayne Smutz, executive director of the World Campus and associate vice president for Academic Outreach, said, “And the World Campus’ award-winning student support services are available to help them achieve their educational goals.”
Penn State’s initiatives for service members and veterans include the Office of Veterans Programs, which provides services in outreach, certification and general counseling for veterans and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits recipients; a dedicated Military Admissions and Advising Team, which has members with military experience; a military grant-in-aid for undergraduate programs; military scholarships; and training programs for faculty and staff who work with these students. The University also participates in the Veterans Administration Yellow Ribbon Program and has been recognized as a military-friendly school by G.I. Jobs, Military Advanced Education and Military Times.