Melissa Vito welcomes visitors to the UA's new VETS Center, which opened in early April.
Melissa Vito welcomes visitors to the UA's new VETS Center, which opened in early April.

UA's Vito to Testify on Student Veteran Success Before Congressional Subcommittee

Melissa Vito will testify on the higher education needs of student veterans.
May 7, 2014

(Note: Read about the testimony Melissa Vito gave in this UANews story.)

The University of Arizona has been asked to appear before a congressional subcommittee to share the work it has done to support veterans seeking college degrees. 

Melissa Vito, senior vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and vice provost for academic initiatives and student success at the UA, was scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, along with several other panelists. The hearing, “Defining and Improving Success for Student Veterans,” was slated to begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Vito's testimony was to center on the UA’s definition of student veteran success and identify further measures that are needed to ensure veterans achieve their academic goals. She also planned to share with the subcommittee details about the UA’s two veterans’ centers.

The UA opened its first Veteran Education and Transition Service Center in 2008. Originally located in Old Main, it moved to the Student Union Memorial Center in 2009 as demand rose.

The UA opened a second VETS Center on April 9 at the Arizona Health Sciences Center. The first of its kind in the nation, the new center provides support for veterans who are working toward degrees in health sciences.

The need for the centers grew out of a project the UA embarked on in 2008 to bolster efforts to help disabled student veterans. In the process, UA officials realized the University needed to understand who all its veterans were and identify the resources required to support them.

As a result, the UA began surveying and talking with its student veterans. That information enabled the University to tailor services to student veterans’ needs.

Of the 40,621 students attending the UA, 1,317 are veterans. Between 2008 and 2013, the student veteran population doubled from 178 to 355 and usage of the main campus VETS Center has increased by 31 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013, to more than 10,000 visits during that academic year.

“At the core of what we strive to accomplish, and how we define success, is to ensure our student veterans transition successfully, are retained, graduate and obtain meaningful employment – and our data shows that we are doing this in ways that equal or exceed our nonveteran students,” Vito said.

Other people scheduled to testify include: Michael Dakduk, vice president of Military and Veterans Affairs with the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities; William Hubbard, vice president of External Affairs with the Student Veterans of America; Ricardo Torres, president and CEO of the National Student Clearinghouse; and Thomas Ross, president of the University of North Carolina.

The 25-member committee is led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller and includes Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.