COLUMBUS, Ohio — In 2017, Ohio’s PreK-12 school system led the nation by creating the “Purple Star” designation for those schools that worked to become military friendly. Today, Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner announced Ohio is taking the next step in advancing this work with the creation of the first-ever “Collegiate Purple Star” designation.
The announcement was made Wednesday at an event where Gardner was joined by Ohio Adjutant General Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr.; Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, USA Ret., Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services; state Sen. Stephanie Kunze; and the Ohio Department of Education’s point person for the Purple Star program in K-12 schools, Valerie Kunze.
“We are always developing ways for Ohio to become the best place for military members and their families to live, work, and raise a family,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “Purple Star Schools are great examples of how Ohioans can come together to support, encourage, and recognize the sacrifices our service men and women and their loved ones make.”
“I am pleased to announce the expansion of this great program to support military families at the college level,” Gardner said. “Ohio has always valued veterans and service members and their families; expanding the Purple Star program to our colleges and universities will give students with military connections one more reason to continue their education here.”
“I’m very glad to see the Purple Star program grow to include Ohio’s colleges and universities,” said Interim State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Stephanie Siddens. “Our armed services members and military-connected families make so many sacrifices. Ensuring our military students and families have supports and resources that help them reach their educational goals is just one way Ohio shows its appreciation and admiration.”
The Collegiate Purple Star will recognize those public and independent colleges and universities in Ohio that are supportive and inclusive of military-connected students. Designations will be determined by a Collegiate Purple Star Advisory Committee after evaluation and recommendation. The advisory committee will be appointed by the Chancellor and composed of members from organizations that include but aren’t limited to ODHE, the Ohio Veterans Education Council (with representation from two-year colleges, four-year universities, and independent institutions), the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, the Ohio Adjutant General’s Department, and the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission K-12 Purple Star Committee.
“I’m proud of the strong partnerships we’ve created between the Statehouse, higher ed leadership, Ohio’s colleges and universities, and our veteran community to continue the important work of serving our military members and their families,” Kunze said. “We must do all we can to help serve those who so selflessly and sacrificially serve us; the Collegiate Purple Star designation will help support the unique needs of our service members as they prepare to enter the workforce.”
“It is so wonderful to see student veterans and those who are from families of service receive the support they deserve, and this program takes another important step to that end — and reminds us of why Ohio is one of the most veteran- and military-friendly states in the nation,” Ashenhurst said.
Criteria for being chosen as a Purple Star college or university include having a dedicated military/veteran point of contact and/or office on campus, establishing priority registration for veterans and service members, surveying student veterans and service members – along with spouses and dependents – about needs and challenges, and allowing for the establishment of student-led groups and organizations for veterans and service members. Colleges and universities that earn the Collegiate Purple Star designation will receive permission from the advisory committee to utilize a logo or badge signifying the designation.
“About 80% of Ohio National Guard Airmen and Soldiers are traditional, part-time Guard members and many of them are students at Ohio’s colleges and universities,” Harris said. “Many times, especially in the past two years during the COVID-19 response, we need members to deploy at a moment’s notice. Schools are an important partner to help students and their families cope with issues stemming from deployments, training, and other challenges that come with a military lifestyle.”
More information on the Collegiate Purple Star program is available online at www.ohiohighered.org/purple-star.
Submitted by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.