Skip to main content




March 14, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU plans two-day veterans' conference

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University will host a two-day "Skills Learned, Respect Earned: Valuing the Veterans in Higher Education" conference March 31-April 1. The event will bring together higher education professionals to collaborate and share best practices in making higher education campuses more military supportive.

"We hope the conference will allow participants to gain appreciation for the unique needs of veterans in higher education, to better target this unique population, learn to better recruit, retain and graduate student veterans at our campuses and explore best practices from well-established student veterans authorities, administrative supporters and student veterans," said Laurel Dagnon, program director for SRU's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and program organizer.

The conference will also assist participants in identifying and expanding resources for their campuses

Events, planned for 7:30 a.m. through dinner opening day, will take place in the Smith Student Center. The second day, also in the center, will run 7:30 a.m. through a 12:30 p.m. box lunch.

"Throughout the country, service members are returning home and deciding to obtain their higher education degrees. While many schools have increased efforts to support these military connected students, there has been a need for greater collaboration and coordination across institutions. That is why we are hosting the conference," Dagnon said.

"The conference will build collaboration between student veterans and also those who work to serve them in all of our state higher education institutions," she said.

   WOLFMichael Wolf, Pennsylvania secretary of health and an SRU graduate, Tim Burke, chief of staff at the Veterans Administration Butler Healthcare facility, and David McPherson, the veteran's global chief medical officer, will be among those addressing the conference.

John Beckage, a parks and recreation resource management major from Murrysville and president of the SRU Student Veterans Association, will join Cheryl Norton, SRU president, and Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, to open the program.

Paul Millard, academic adviser II from Georgia State University will present the opening workshop titled "Green Zone Training." Wendy Lang, director of Operation College Promise, will present "Operation College Promise: Completing the Mission II: A Study of Veteran Students' Progress Toward Degree Attainment in the Post 9/11 Era."

 SNEADKathy Snead, president and director of service-members at Opportunity College, a consortium of national higher education associations with more than 1,900 members, will deliver the luncheon keynote titled "Engaging Veterans and Military Students in Their Education."

Opening day afternoon sessions will include "TBI, PTSD and the Classroom: Understanding the Mental Health Needs of Student Veterans," delivered by James Yauger, founder/adviser of the Student Veterans of Seton Hill, and "Offices of Veterans and Military Programs and Services: A Recipe for Success," by Col. Stephen Abel (Retired), director of veteran and military programs and services at Rutgers University,

   CONNLEYA reception sponsored by the State College and University Professional Association will is at 5:15 p.m., followed by an address from Mary Connelly, assistant dean of student affairs, at from the University of Massachusetts, titled "Student Veterans On Campus: A Need for More Staff Training."

Filmmaker Andrew Swensen will discuss the making of "Journey to Normal - Women of War Come Home" at 7:30 p.m.

The April 1 program opens with a continental breakfast from 7:45-9 a.m., followed by Lauren Williams, director of military and veteran services at Marywood College, discussing "NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community Program" and "Best Practices to Create A veteran Supportive College Campus." John Summerlot, residence manager at Indiana University Bloomington, will offer "Student Veterans Organizations" and a student veteran's panel from area colleges and universities. Christian Vaccaro, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will offer "The Invisible Work of Veteran Reintegration in the University Setting."

The day concludes with "The Next Steps in Ensuring Success of Our Student Veterans."

The American Legion, AVI, Irene Stacy Community Mental Health Center, KPMG, North Country Brewing, the Office of the Chancellor, PNC Bank, SCUPA, Sheetz Inc., The Grove, the Veterans Administration Butler Healthcare, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Webb Winery are sponsoring the conference

Registration information is available by calling Dagnon at 724.738.2030 or visiting:

Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.