Wayland receives $592,217 grant for Virtual Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success

PLAINVIEW – A Virtual Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success will be established at Wayland Baptist University with a $592,217 U.S. Department of Education grant.

The virtual center will serve Wayland’s military affiliated population, which is geographically dispersed across six states and territories — Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii and American Samoa, as well as online. More than 500 veterans currently enrolled at Wayland will be affected by the creation of the virtual center. Many of these students take a combination of online and face-to-face courses and all will be familiar with the Blackboard learning management system that will house the virtual center.

“This is the latest success involving Wayland’s emphasis on securing federal grants,” said Dr. Bobby Hall, President. “We are excited about not only this grant but also others that we hope to receive in the future.”

“With this Department of Education grant, Wayland can take the next step in expanding the services we can provide to veterans across the world,” said Elane Seebo, Senior Assistant to the President. “As the wife of a veteran who proudly served our country for more than 30 years, it was particularly gratifying for me to be allowed to participate in the grant process, and I know our veterans will benefit from and appreciate more readily available services wherever they are.”

She noted that for almost five decades, Wayland has served military and veteran students by providing educational opportunities on or near military installations and by providing a quality, robust online program.

Hall noted Seebo’s prominent role in securing the funding.

“Although many were involved in preparing this grant, I am particularly appreciative of the leadership of Dr. Elane Seebo in leading this grant submission and seeing it through to success,” he said. “In numerous ways, this will benefit many of our students going forward.”

The Virtual Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success will include hiring a veteran services coordinator, establishing a veteran services advisory board, and engaging in new veteran recruitment activities. In addition to the creation of the VCEVSS Blackboard site, a veteran-specific first-year seminar course will be established. Faculty and staff training will be increased, and peer support strategies for veterans will be implemented. Also, the availability of mental health, tutoring, disability support and career services for veteran students will be increased.

“This new opportunity, the Virtual Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, will serve military affiliated students across the system by building capacity for improved academic and social support services. This includes offer tutoring, career advising, financial support, and mental health services,” said Dr. David Bishop, Vice President of External Campuses.

The virtual center and associated programming are expected to result in increased military affiliated student enrollment, as well as improved persistence and graduation rates. Significantly more faculty and staff will be trained on issues related to veteran student experiences, and increased utilization of counseling and disability services is anticipated.

“Success in this endeavor will provide the encouraging, supportive services exposing, and providing hands on experience for the military affiliated student so that students are more likely to pursue graduate degrees and successful careers,” Bishop said. “We hope to create a one stop shop, where veterans can engage in synchronous and asynchronous activities, participate in a mentor programming, and receive support post-graduation.”

The grant results from Wayland’s efforts to secure federal revenue sources for university programs, according to Dr. Cindy McClenagan, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies.

 “Under President Hall’s leadership, Wayland began a focused pursuit of federal grants, with faculty and staff pulling together to submit really top-notch proposals,” she said. “The receipt of this most recent CEVSS grant is just further evidence of the impressive work our employees do to make a positive difference in lives of our students here in Plainview, and across our multiple campuses.”.

Of the more than 500 veterans attending Wayland, 63 percent are enrolled in undergraduate programs, and 37 percent are involved in graduate programs.