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Oct. 13, 2006 Communique

4 October 2006
Pam Shockley-Zalabak, Chancellor
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Dear Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak,

            The purpose of this letter is to provide findings uncovered by the Military Task Force on students’ activation/deployment experiences during their academic experience at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS). The methodology used by the Task Force consisted of internal information from the university as well as external descriptive data. All findings were triangulated to illuminate students’ experiences of activation and deployment, while enrolled students. 

Per your instructions, the Task Force is presenting a summary of the body of evidence related to military students’ experiences at UCCS and other evidence examined by the Task Force that support recommendations provided at the end of this letter. Because of privacy laws protecting student privacy (i.e., FERPA), no specific data are available for public review.

Body of Evidence
The following information was examined by the Military Task Force.  

  1. UCCS policies related to students who are involved with military deployments/activations during the course of their academic study.
  2. The Army Soldier Readiness Processing (SRP) Checklist.
  3. The Tuition Assistance Authorization
  4. Data from colleges that demonstrate individual student experiences where faculty and staff assisted military students continue with their studies before, during, and after activations and deployment.
  5. Formal Grievance Data related to UCCS/Military Students  - None found
  6. Interviews and data from Fort Carson, Peterson AFB, USAFA and Buckley AFB (handles the Guard and Reserves) education offices – no problems related to UCCS military students being activated and deployed.
  7. Veteran Affairs Data – no problems found.
  8. Policies from other universities related to students called to Active Duty. The policies examined were from Univ. of Illinois at Springfield, University of Arizona, University of Washington, Foothills College, University of Minnesota, University of Arkansas, and University of Virginia.
  9. Student interviews – 2 interviews.

To summarize the evidence, the Task Force found no evidence that indicated UCCS students have been academically or financially penalized if they had been activated or deployed for military duty during the course of the semester. In fact, the Task Force found multiple individual student instances where faculty and staff assisted military students when they were called to military duty.  Further, no information from outside the UCCS community indicated students complained to external agencies that they were not supported by the university if they had been activated or deployed and they were not assisted by UCCS. In all cases we reviewed, UCCS students were either helped to continue their education or they were allowed to withdraw from the university with 100% tuition reimbursement when participating in military activations and deployments. Although our findings support a tradition of support for military students, the Task Force offers several recommendations that will help military students if they are called to military duty during their academic studies.

Recommendations

  1. Develop a checklist for all military students who have military deployments/activations during the course of the semester. The checklist should identify a single point of contact at UCCS to assist the student make arrangements to continue as a student or withdraw from the university. Additionally, student who are activated or deployed must provide the university with a copy of their orders or proof of deployment/activation.
  2. Develop a policy, similar to the Athletic Policy, requiring students to notify faculty at the beginning of each semester if they are in the military and have the potential to be activated or deployed during the semester.
  3. Request a statement in all syllabi, similar to the Disability Statement, notifying students about their personal responsibilities as a student if they are called to military service during the course of the semester.
  4. Encourage the UCCS Veteran Affairs office to inform students about their responsibilities on campus if they are activated/deployed during the semester.
  5. If a UCCS student elects to withdraw from a course due to a military activation or deployment, a statement should be added to the student’s transcript that states the student withdrew because of military duty.
  6. Continue with the 100% tuition refund for students who elect to withdraw from courses due to military activations or deployments.
  7. Develop a UCCS policy that specifically addresses students who are called to active duty or deployed during the course of a semester. Post this policy on the web with the checklist (refer to recommendation #1). There are a number of other college/university policies that can be used to assist with the UCCS policy development.
  8. Request that the Army (Fort Carson) and Air Force (Peterson, Buckley, and the USAFA) add a statement to their deployment out-processing checklist that directs military members who are in a civilian educational system to make arrangements with the University to complete coursework or withdrawal from the university prior to deployments. Also, the same information should be added to the Army and the Air Force portals that support military members in their civilian education.
  9. Have the UCCS Information Technology (IT) Department develop a chain of command list for each course to be placed on the UCCS Portal that identifies where students go if they have problems and the problems are not resolved with the course faculty. The chain of command list should indicate faculty teaching each course and the department chair, associate dean and dean that is oversees each course. Telephone numbers and email contacts information for the faculty, department chair, associate dean and dean should be posted for each course on the UCCS portal.
  10. Develop a FAQ information page for military students to answer questions related to military activation/deployment. Military students can select this information and add it to their personalized portal access.
  11. Any processes that are developed based on the aforementioned recommendations should be appropriately communicated to the UCCS community.

In closing, the Task Force believes there is a preponderance of evidence to indicate that the UCCS community has supported military students in their educational activities when they have been called to active military service or deployed while they were students at UCCS. Further, the Task Force believes that the above recommendations will enhance procedural clarity for military students, faculty and staff, when UCCS students’ education is interrupted for military service.  If you have questions regarding the above recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Submitted for the Military Task Force,

 

Jenenne P. Nelson, PhD, CNS, RN
Associate Professor and Chair, Military Task Force