CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University was recognized in an award ceremony Tuesday morning as the fall 2012 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.
At the ceremony, Erica Borggren, the director of Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, presented Eastern Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Blair Lord with an award and proclamation on behalf of Gov. Pat Quinn.
“It’s an award that we have given out only a handful of times in the past and only when an institution truly rises above and goes beyond the call of duty,” Borggren said.
Eastern was honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence due to exceptional veterans’ services and for constructing a friendly campus wide atmosphere for veterans.
Some attributes Eastern was acknowledged for include: administrative, programmatic and financial aid policies that support and cater to student veterans who go into active military service or training.
The university was also recognized for its’ Veterans Transition Workshop and Veterans Service Office.
“Each of these individual services, events and support systems is tangibly and impactfully helpful to student veterans but beyond that as a collective whole those services are important because they say to your student veterans that they are valued members of the community,” Borggren said. “In your efforts in supporting student veterans you’re telling them that you’re grateful for their service and beyond that you value the experiences they have had and what that brings here to the university.”
Earl M. White, supervisor of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ Southern Division, said Eastern provides an array of different programs to help veterans and their families, which he said is one of the many reasons why the university was given the award.
“No school is more deserving of this award then Eastern Illinois University,” White said.
Borggren said another aspect of veteran support Eastern succeeds at is helping with the shift from military to civilian life, which she said can be tough on many veterans.
“The transition from military life to student life can be a very challenging one for a lot of veterans,” Borggren said. “For many veterans it involves a huge cultural and social transition, not to mention dealing with the experiences they had or the trauma they might have experienced overseas while serving in uniform.”
Borggren added that at times this transition leads veterans to feeling isolated, but she said Eastern faculty and staff go above and beyond to try to make the transition process smoother.
“Here at Eastern they clearly recognize this risk and have done their part to make sure there is infrastructure and support in place to support your student veteran community,” Borggren said.
Eastern joins the ranks of other Illinois universities that were given the award in the past, which include: College of DuPage, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Northern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.
Stephen Knotts, coordinator of Veteran Services at Eastern, said the award was a campus wide effort that he said was an honor to the university.
“For my office and all the other offices at Eastern, it gets our message out there that we are here to support veterans whether it’s helping them through the enrollment process, academic support, social support or for career opportunities once they graduate,” Knotts said. “Our job is to provide those services so that veterans can be successful.”
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