Letter to the Editor – Re: Military Article

Come celebrate 30 years!

Dear UAA community,

I’d like to make very clear my strong support of UAA’s military students. Having spent many years in the military, I have a personal understanding of the importance of service and the importance of education to help our military men and women succeed in their goals. During my first months at UAA, I have held meetings to learn more about how UAA is serving its military students. I am impressed by the many faculty and staff who are helping our military students – including financial aid coordinators, counselors, and military education coordinators. As chancellor, I will work to promote and enhance the support of both military personnel and their family members at UAA.

The recent article in The Northern Light depicts a very unfortunate series of events in a class in the College of Business and Public Policy (CBPP). Although we are not at liberty to discuss specific personnel matters, the dean and assistant dean in CBPP have made it very clear the importance they place on respecting our students’ military commitments and that they convey this strongly to their faculty.

As a former dean of CBPP, I’ve gone to bat personally – with phone calls all the way to the Pentagon – to assist our military students as they worked through both the university and military system. As chancellor, I will continue to “go to bat” for our military students.

UAA’s Student Handbook does not grant any group or class of students special privileges to miss class. The policy reads: “Students participating in official intercollegiate activities on behalf of UAA, including but not limited to competition in athletics, forensics and performing arts, are responsible for making advance arrangements with faculty members to enable them to meet course requirements. Faculty are encouraged to make reasonable accommodations for such students. In some cases accommodations may not be possible.”

In fact, the Student Handbook specifically indicates that faculty make the decision about attendance and in some cases “accommodations may not be possible.” It has always been our policy to strongly encourage faculty to be flexible and respect the military and other commitments of our students.

For the last two years in a row GI Jobs magazine has named UAA a Military Friendly School – one of only 1,600 in the entire country. We can and will do more. We recognize the value of having one individual dedicated to supporting our military students in their transition to college and are actively pursuing the VetSuccess On Campus program in connection with Sen. Begich. We hope that the program will be on our campus in the coming year. We are looking for more ways to assist both military personnel and their family members’ access to UAA and to support their student success.

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I am proud to serve as chancellor of a Military Friendly School. We will work together to increase our support of military students and all students.

Sincerely,

Tom Case
Incoming Chancellor

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am extremely grateful that Chancellor Case has made this issue a personal matter, and taken the time to address the entire UAA community with his letter. I can tell that he, with many years of his life dedicated to the military, will work diligently to make sure any lack of military support is resolved within UAA. However, his statement fails to address several very-present and very-pressing problems concerning UAA’s policies on military students.

    For one, while the Student Handbook may not grant “any group or class of students special privileges” toward missing class, the groups mentioned toward being exceptions – “including but not limited to” – are athletics, forensics, and performing arts. Nowhere in that policy is military specifically mentioned. It appears as if military students were not considered when drawing up the policies on excused absence. To be considered a Military Friendly school, some sort of leave rights should be established for military students in the UAA Handbook.

    Chancellor Case’s statement also fails to address what UAA will be doing in response to this issue, apart from establishing a veterans advisor program on campus. While having a military advisor is vitally important for our school, and will assist many including Tammy Cartwright’s Veterans at UAA program, it is only a portion of what needs to be done to fix this problem. More active steps should be taken to address the root of the issue: the severe lack of military student rights on campus. Most professors on campus would be more than willing to assist military students in any way they can, but it only takes one ugly event such as Nichole Tovar’s to bring this whole issue to light.

    I’m not going to pretend to know the most effective solution toward dealing with military mistreatment. But I do know this: UAA shouldn’t deserve a Military Friendly title while we lack such basic amendments.

  2. The people that defend our country and way of life deserve far better than what is given. We worry about the rights of of so many groups of people but none is given to those that protect our rights. They can risk their lives to defend us but nobody will reschedule a test for the when they come home.

    Policy is not the only issue here. Doing all we can for people that defend our way of life should be at the top of the list.

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