May 28, 2009 - The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is expanding its outreach military veterans through its new MountainCat Veterans Program (MVP). The MVP, which has been created to assist veterans in making a successful transition to college student, is just one more way that the University is reaching out to veterans.
In announcing the program, Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar offered, “We have tremendous respect and appreciation for our military veterans, who have given so selflessly of themselves in defending our freedom. We owe them a enormous debt of gratitude. Our MountainCat Veterans Program is one more way of saying ‘thank you’ to all of our military veterans.”
The MVP is available to former members of the United States Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard) who served on active duty and were discharged under conditions that were other than dishonorable. In addition to providing a support group, The MVP offers several benefits to participants:
Accelerated Admission Review
A one-stop application process has been developed through the Office of Advanced and Continuing Education, where veterans are provided the opportunity to begin an academic program on either a part-time or full-time basis. Students who enroll through the Office of Advanced and Continuing Education benefit from communication geared to their nontraditional situations and needs, personalized academic advising, and assistance with transfer into traditional academic divisions at Pitt-Johnstown. The standard Application Fee is waived for all veterans.
Participants are provided with special priority status enabling them to register before the general student population. This creates the opportunity to register for popular classes that typically fill very early during the open registration period.
Deferred Tuition Payments
Participants who have been approved for full GI Bill benefits will have the ability to defer tuition payments until funding is received from the government.
Credits earned from previous course work, including through military service, will be evaluated to maximize the number of transfer credits that are awarded. Applicants may also be eligible to participate in the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), which provides an opportunity to earn college credit through standardized exams.
Specially trained individuals have been designated to serve as primary points of contact in several student services and administrative departments. These individuals comprise the Veterans’ Support Council and include representatives from areas including the President’s Office, Academic Affairs, the Business Office, Financial Aid, and the Registrar’s Office.
Additionally, MVP participants will benefit from free parking, discounts on clothing items at the Pitt-Johnstown bookstore, free tickets to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, and an annual President’s Veterans’ Day dinner.
Pitt-Johnstown Vice President for Academic Affairs (Interim) Dr. Alan Teich, who will administer the MVP, offered, “This program represents Pitt-Johnstown’s deep commitment to serving former members of the United States Armed Forces, and is a collaborative effort of many units across campus that comprise the Veterans’ Support Council. These veterans have served their country with honor, and The MVP allows us the opportunity to honor that service.”
Anyone interested in more information on The MVP should contact the Pitt-Johnstown Academic Affairs Office at 814-269-2078. Additional details are also available on the Pitt-Johnstown web site at: www.upj.pitt.edu/MVP.
In addition to the MVP, members of the Pitt-Johnstown faculty have been actively involved in the Veteran Employment Transition Foundation (VETF) COMPASS Transition program since February. The program, which is a five-day holistic retreat, provides combat-wounded veterans with an opportunity to acquire valuable employment resources as well as life planning skills to assist with their re-entry to the civilian sector. Faculty members Ronald Vickroy, associate professor (management); Bruce Colbert, clinical associate professor (respiratory care); Douglas Reed, visiting assistant professor (management); and Donald Cowie, adjunct instructor (management) have volunteered their time to provide coaching and teaching sessions for wounded veterans. Workshop topics have included interviewing skills, stress management, personal financial planning, goal setting, and building a positive attitude.
Mr. Reed explained that he and the others involved with the project view their efforts as an opportunity to show appreciation to our veterans. “This has been a most rewarding experience, as it provides an opportunity to serve and give back to our returning veterans who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our nation’s freedom.”
For more than a year, Pitt-Johnstown Personal Counseling Center Director Dr. Robert Yaskanich, a Vietnam veteran, has been leading a support group, called a “rap group,” for veterans. Dr. Yaskanich explained that the program creates an opportunity in which “veterans talk with veterans about their war experience and how it relates to everyday issues aback home in civilian life.” Dr. Yaskanich has been leading veterans support groups since 1972.
Pitt-Johnstown currently enrolls an average of 55 veterans per semester.
Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. A vital knowledge center and a foremost contributor to the area’s educational, social, cultural, and economic environment, Pitt-Johnstown offers a high quality educational experience that is purposefully designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century.