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President’s Letter: Veterans on Campus

October 9, 2009

Posted in: Featured Links, Homepage News and Events, News for Students

The following letter was sent to the campus community by President Susan A. Cole on October 9, 2009:

Dear Members of the University Community:

Throughout the country, institutions of higher education are welcoming veterans back to campus under the generous provisions of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  At Montclair State University, we currently have approximately 120 veteran and military students among our student population, and, as an institution, we have taken a number of steps to make these students welcome on the campus and to support their efforts to achieve their educational goals.

Guiding the University’s efforts is a task force, established in the fall of 2008, composed of members of the University community who have a special interest in educational services for veterans, prior military experience, familiarity with resources for veterans and military personnel, and various areas of expertise that they can contribute to the University’s efforts.  Members of the task force are:

  • Mr. James E. Harris, Associate Dean of Students, Task Force Chair
  • Ms. Denise Y. Rodak, Academic Advisor, Task Force Vice Chair
  • Dr.  Jason Dickinson, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Dr. Christopher Drost, Associate Director, Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Mr. David Gisonno, Student Veteran
  • Dr. Leslie Jenkins, Assistant Dean, College of Education and Human Services
  • Ms. Lisa Kasper, Associate Director, Office of Admissions
  • Mr. Kenneth Key, Veteran Certifying Officer, Financial Aid
  • Ms. Rosalie Martinsen, Student Veteran
  • Dr. Deborah Ragin, Associate Professor of Psychology

In addition, Professor Harry Haines, Chair of the Department of Communications Studies, and Professor William Sullivan of the Department of Exercise Science and Physical Education have provided invaluable assistance in our efforts to prepare for returning veterans.

The task force identified the special challenges veterans face in continuing their education and developed recommendations to address these challenges.  As a result, a number of initiatives have been implemented, including the following:

  • The Montclair State Veterans Association was chartered as a Class III student organization and immediately began regular meetings.
  • Denise Y. Rodak was appointed as the Coordinator of Veteran and Military Resources.
  • In conjunction with New Jersey’s other state colleges and universities, Montclair State and the other colleges applied for and received a $100,000 ACE/Wal-Mart “Success for Veterans” grant – one of only 20 such grants awarded nationwide.  The funding is being used to establish Operation College Promise, a collaborative effort created to enhance and expand higher education programs and services for veterans.
  • Montclair State University entered into an agreement with the United States Veterans Association to become a Yellow Ribbon Institution, a designation that identifies institutions that provide recognized services and policies in regard to veteran education.
  • A website for Veteran and Military Resources was launched.  The site can be accessed at
  • The Office of Undergraduate Admissions created a streamlined application process for veterans and military students.
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Veteran and Military Resources partnered to provide ongoing programming for student veterans.
  • A specialized orientation program for veterans was instituted that addresses the issues they face as they enroll and progress through the University.

As a result of these efforts, Montclair State University was named one of the top military friendly schools by G. I. Jobs magazine, placing the University among the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools in the country doing the most to serve our veteran and military students.

In the upcoming months, more programs will be created including veteran and military student recognition events and faculty workshops.  During the academic year, members of the task force will be contacting departments about programs that will help faculty and staff better understand the issues and needs affecting our veteran students and how they may assist them.  I encourage you to get to know our veteran and military students.  They are a vibrant part of our campus community, and, on behalf of the University community, I am proud to be able to welcome them home and to provide them with the educational opportunities that they have earned through their service.  In providing this welcome, I remember, every day, those Montclair State students whom we lost overseas and those still serving.

If you would like more information on our veteran and military student population, Denise Rodak is available to meet with groups of faculty and staff.  She can be reached at 973-655-7114 or by email at


Susan A. Cole