Center for Veteran Transition and Integration
A Call to Action
Despite the many effective programs offered to the veteran population, it is clear that service members in transition continue to face barriers to reaching their potential in accessing higher education and beginning meaningful careers.
By drawing on the lessons and experiences gained over the last decade working with service members in transition, Columbia is well-positioned to play a national role in promoting best practices for the transition of veterans to two- and four-year colleges and to graduate schools, and for their integration into civilian life and the workforce.
And with over 40,000 organizations dedicated to working with service members and veterans, there is enormous opportunity for Columbia to partner with best-in-class organizations to have a major impact, nationally, on the problems facing service members and veterans in transition.
To meet these challenges and realize these opportunities, Columbia created the Columbia University Center for Veteran Transition and Integration. The Center will be a national center of excellence, focused on ensuring that transitioning veterans nationwide receive access to world class programming and support designed to maximize their potential in higher education and the workforce.
To embark on that mission, the Center seeks funds for current use—to catalyze construction, renovations, and innovations that will enable the Center to move forward, both programmatically and physically. Please make a gift today and make a difference in the life of a veteran.
A History of Service
Columbia is justly proud of its leadership in American and international education and its commitment to create the most diverse and inclusive undergraduate community in the Ivy League. One important milestone in this effort was the founding in 1947 of the School of General Studies (GS)—in large part to meet the educational needs of the most academically gifted GIs returning from World War II who, supported by the GI Bill, were eager to begin or complete their undergraduate degrees.
While Columbia College (CC) and Columba Engineering (SEAS), Columbia’s undergraduate colleges for traditional students, recruit applicants who are completing or have recently completed high school, GS recruits, evaluates, and advises students with untraditional backgrounds and mainstreams them fully with their CC and SEAS classmates into the undergraduate program. GS students take the same courses, study with the same faculty, major in the same departments, and are held to the same high standards as all other Columbia undergraduates. The Columbia classroom is unlike that at any other Ivy League university because of the full integration of students with untraditional backgrounds who enhance significantly the intellectual discourse among undergraduates and the faculty.
In the first years of this century, a new initiative was launched to recruit to GS exceptionally talented veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. While these early efforts led to significant growth in the student veteran community, doubling the size if the community to nearly 60 students by 2008, growth was limited by the dearth of resources available for veterans under the Montgomery GI Bill. This early community of veterans, however, was instrumental in helping us develop best practices both in transitioning recent veterans to an Ivy League university and in providing them with the necessary support services to promote their academic and professional success.
The practices we developed from 2000 through 2008 prepared us for the rapid growth in the veteran student community catalyzed by the introduction in 2009 of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. Now enlisted men and women can pursue a Columbia education—both graduate and undergraduate—without incurring the debt burden earlier veteran alumni had to assume.
Columbia’s graduate divisions—including Business, International and Public Affairs, Health Sciences, Journalism, Professional Studies, and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences—are equally engaged in ensuring that Columbia is a destination for particularly talented transitioning officers and active duty personnel. Consequently, the undergraduate veteran community has grown to 460 in the 2016–2017 academic year. Overall, there are more than 700 veteran students at Columbia.
We are confident that the Columbia University undergraduate and graduate veterans’ program is the most supportive, engaged, and effective in the country. The graduation rate for undergraduates is above 90 percent, and our record of job and graduate school placement for recent graduates equals that of Columbia’s nonveteran graduates. The same can be said for veterans completing graduate degrees. We are the gold standard of veterans’ programs in the Ivy League, and among highly selective private colleges and universities, and are recognized as such by other universities, government agencies, and the business community.