Old Dominion University has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to receive a three-year, $598,409 grant that will create and sustain a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success (CEVSS) program at the University.

The USDOE CEVSS funding opportunity will encourage institutions of higher education to develop model programs to support veteran student success in postsecondary education by coordinating services to address the academic, financial, physical and social needs of veteran students.

With this funding, ODU’s Military Connection Center (MCC) will expand to include the CEVSS: a program that provides targeted resources, both on the ground and online, to support the recruitment, enrollment, and retention of veteran students in Hampton Roads and throughout the United States.

"Ensuring the success of our military-affiliated students has been one of our top priorities for many years," said Austin Agho, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Our new Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success will allow us to significantly augment our efforts.”

The principal investigator for this project is Kim Bullington, chief departmental advisor and programs manager for engineering management and systems engineering and chapter advisor for Student Veterans of America at Old Dominion University. Co-principal investigators are Melanie Graham, director of special projects for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services; Bill Nuckols, director of community outreach and engagement; and Anthony Dean, professor and associate dean in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology. Consultants include Robert Clark, director of military activities, and Carin Barber, director of strategic projects in the Office of the President at California State University San Marcos.

“ODU is a great place for military and veteran students, and we truly value their contributions to our campus community,” Bullington said. “This funding will allow us to provide more focused programs, staffing and resources to help them succeed.”

ODU serves 1,143 veterans and 5,563 military-affiliated students and has nearly 2,500 students who use the GI Bill. This grant will enhance the post-secondary experience for these students by reducing obstacles that prevent student veteran success.

Immediate action items for the CEVSS will be to:

  • Hire full-time and part-time staff – specifically a veteran student success coach and a Peer Advisor for Veteran Education (PAVE) graduate assistant – to support the implementation and execution of the CEVSS program.
  • Improve the transition to post-secondary education for veteran students through enrollment, transfer and orientation support.
  • Enhance training for faculty and staff regarding the needs and strengths of student veterans and military-affiliated students.
  • Position ODU to serve as a model for best practices in veteran support to other higher education institutions.

The program aims to increase recruitment and enrollment of veteran and military-affiliated students by 5% annually during the grant period. It also seeks to increase retention and academic achievement from 68% to 75% and boost graduation rates from 49% to 55% over the grant period.

Old Dominion University is located near the world's largest naval base and is the only NATO command on U.S. soil. A quarter of ODU’s student body is connected to the U.S. military, and the University has been consistently recognized for its efforts to help active-duty personnel, veterans and their families. In March, the University earned a Gold ranking as a Military Friendly® School for 2023-2024 from militaryfriendly.com. ODU has also been ranked a "Best for Vets" school in Virginia by Military Times.