KINGSTON, R.I. – September 7, 2022 – The University of Rhode Island officially opened its Center for Military and Veteran Education today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Memorial Union. Formerly the Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs, the Center now has a dedicated and centrally located space to continue its work of assisting URI’s veterans, current military and military-connected students, as well as prospective students, in understanding veterans’ and military benefits, GI bill certification, financial aid and scholarships and much more.
President Marc Parlange welcomed the crowd, stating, “It is my hope that all our military-connected students, faculty and staff will find a sense of place and belonging here at the University – to find opportunities for leadership and personal and professional development, and to explore their interests and passions – and that the Center will serve as not only a resource to help achieve those goals but also a place where all feel welcome.”
Importantly, the Center provides a way to connect members of URI’s veteran and military community to one another and to the programs and support – both on campus and off – that will help them be successful. Now located on the first floor of the Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road on the Kingston Campus, the new Center will house staff offices as well as meeting space and a lounge area. It will also become the permanent home for the URI Student Veterans Organization, enabling the University to expand its commitment to student veterans by providing a space to bring the community together.
Tracy Santos, president of the URI Student Veterans Organization, sees the Center as a way to help student veterans make the transition to college life.
“Learning how to navigate from military to civilian life can be incredibly difficult. Many veterans don’t make it due to a lack of resources, support and understanding, so having those resources in one place and a community to turn to can help make that transition easier,” said Santos, who is originally from the Bronx, N.Y., now studying clinical neuroscience. “The SVO has become a home for me, and I hope it can become a home for others as well – to build new relationships and to make a healthy adjustment to college life – and to begin bridging the divide between students and student veterans so we can all feel a part of the same community.”
URI enrolls close to 300 military veterans or active military, with approximately 140 military dependents. Those numbers have seen steady growth in recent years. The University’s graduating class of 2022 included 57 military veterans – 32 undergraduates and 25 graduate students.
“Veterans and their family members have consistently answered our nation’s call, placing service before self during countless deployments, extended tours of duty, and domestic and global training missions,” said Sean Edmund Rogers, vice president of Community, Equity, and Diversity, and an Army and Air Force veteran. “Today’s Center opening honors that service by continuing and expanding URI’s tradition of supporting the educational aspirations of military members and their families. I’m proud to be a Rhody Ram every day, especially today.”
The Center is also adjacent to URI’s ROTC Hall of Fame, which includes an exhibit and furnished common area honoring the achievements of ROTC alumni who made significant contributions to the Army and their communities, expanding the presence and visibility of University’s veteran and military community on the Union’s first floor and providing additional opportunity and space to meet and gather. Located in Room 113 in the Memorial Union, the Center for Military and Veteran Education will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
URI’s Memorial Union opened in 1954 and stands as living memorial to the 187 members of the URI community killed during World War II and the Korean Conflict. It was built with contributions from students and alumni.