Military-connected students comprise a growing population in higher education, and are those who enroll in postsecondary education with current or prior service with the military and their dependents. These students are also diverse in terms of demographic characteristics and service backgrounds, placing an important role on student affairs professionals and leaders to develop comprehensive, targeted, and meaningful support services to encompass the needs of these unique students. The Symposium provides opportunities for professionals and other stakeholders to share and learn ways to effectively support military-connected students.
This 2.5 day symposium features keynote sessions; research, policy, and best practices presentations; and workshop style sessions to help campus professionals develop or enhance their programming and services for military-connected students. We are delighted to host this year's symposium in Washington, D.C. Symposium attendees will have opportunities to discuss program ideas, trends, current research, and theory.
This professional development event started at the University of Louisville eight years ago under the leadership of Tom Jackson and Frank Mianzo, then the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Chief of Staff for the Office of the President for Student Affairs, respectively. In February 2014, NASPA was honored to assume planning and hosting duties at the request of the University. The 2015 NASPA Veterans Conference boasted over 240 participants and 40 different programs. In 2016, the event changed its name to more accurately reflect the population of students served by attendees and more closely align with trends in research and policy.
The NASPA Symposium on Military-Connected Students evolved from the University of Louisville Veteran Symposium for Higher Education that had been conducted in Louisville, Kentucky for the first six years of the program. Under the University of Louisville’s direction, the conference grew from a small one-day conference into the premiere conference on student veterans with over 200 participants in its final years. The University of Louisville transitioned host responsibilities to NASPA after the 2014 Symposium to provide a national forum for the institutional policy, programming, and concerns of military and student veteran populations.
The symposium was envisioned by Tom Jackson, a military veteran, and Frank Mianzo. At the time they envisioned the program, Tom Jackson served as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Frank Mianzo served as the Chief of Staff for the Office of the President for Student Affairs, both at the University of Louisville. It was their desire to host an annual program that focused on issues related to student veterans while bringing together colleagues committed to serving student veterans. With the program planning and general assistance of Kathy Snead from Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, Shirley Hardy, Laura Mercer, and Glenn Gittings from the University of Louisville, the symposium flourished each successive year.
NASPA is grateful for the University of Louisville’s focus and leadership on this important area of higher education and looks forward to continuing the growth and development of the conference to best serve the professional development needs of those who work with our student veterans and other military-connected students.