Action Project #10

Back to Top College/Community Veterans' Services Project

Challenging     Easy
Simple     Complex
High Payoff     Low Payoff

AQIP Criterion to which this primarily relates: Understanding Students’ and Other Stakeholders’ Needs 

Subsidiary AQIP Criteria: Helping Students Learn 

Back to Top What is the business case of this project?

The American Council on Education is projecting that more than 2 million veterans will be returning from the Afghanistan/Iraq wars. To prepare for the return of these veterans, the Post 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, effective August 1, 2009, was passed to help veterans obtain the college education they have earned.

While these benefits exist to serve veterans, it has been noted that veterans may not take advantage of them due to the absence of easily accessible information, effective outreach, and veteran-friendly practices. Increased emphasis on veterans' services will strengthen the college's preparedness to successfully enroll and retain veterans and their dependents and assist them in gaining knowledge and skills to meet educational, employment and life goals thereby providing a well-trained workforce to enhance the regional economy.

While the college has been serving the area veteran population by providing educational opportunities over the many years of operation, this proposal would provide the opportunity to enhance services for currently enrolled veterans as well as prepare for the projected increase in veteran enrollment and be able to address the new benefits that will be available. With Southwestern Illinois College's proximity to Scott Air Force Base, the College currently serves a large veteran population, averaging between 600 - 800 veterans in attendance at Southwestern each semester. The region also supports multiple National Guard units in addition to active duty military personnel.

Back to Top What is the preliminary analysis of the problem; what is the opportunity?

To take advantage of this opportunity to increase enrollment and better serve our veterans, the college must enhance its current services and develop new initiatives in collaboration with the community and government entities in our region.

Current processes include a combination of individual efforts through entities such as Scott Air Force Base, the Veterans' Affairs Office, community organizations and the College. This action project provides an opportunity to jointly address our regional veteran population and to coordinate our services to the benefit of the veteran.

Back to Top Briefly describe the scope of the project as well as the assumptions and restraints that are made. Do not proffer opinions on accountability or on the exact course of action that is needed.

The project will develop a prioritized plan to enhance current veterans' services and develop new initiatives. The team will need to consider the fact that in the new G.I. Bill, enrollment options will be broadened for veterans thus offering an additional option to attend four-year institutions as well as community colleges at a rate equal to the most expensive public institution in the state. The scope of the project may also be impacted by parameters involving funding, staffing, and physical space.

The initial foundation for the project began with the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. Initial assessment of current practices in services areas was completed in relation to the anticipated future/projected needs. From this assessment, an initial task force was formed to develop potential strategies.

Back to Top Which constituencies or stakeholders ought to serve on this Action Project team; which positions ought to be included in the team's membership?

Student Services, Community Services, Instruction, College Activities, Government and Community Representatives, Public Information and Marketing, and Student Military Veterans

Back to Top What guidelines should the team recognize as it responds to this Action project?

  • The Action Project team will adhere to the timelines for the project.
  • As the team works to design a plan that serves the veterans' needs, student input will be considered.
  • The plan that issues from this Action Project is subject to approval by the SPC and subsequent review by the Board of Trustees. The funding to initiate the plan is contingent upon the availability of revenues from which monies can be appropriated by the Board. This plan must be built upon realistic assumptions and be capable of practical implementation within the time frames that are adopted.
  • The plan must adhere to the regulations that comprise the new G.I. Bill.
  • Consideration of the current veterans services function within the college must be given.

Back to Top What are the elements, milestones, and deliverables, that are envisioned for the project-and when should the team achieve these?

  • October, 2008 - Establish a base of knowledge about upcoming legislation.
  • November, 2008 - Identify task force to review current service areas and processes in place to identify potential gaps for Veterans on campus.
  • December, 2008 - Review proposed G.I. Bill regulations
  • January, 2009 - Attend regional G.I. implementation meeting in Chicago for updates on final rule making.
  • February, 2009 - Establish working committee
  • March, 2009 - Investigate regional community services and meet with Illinois State Veterans' Affairs Office
  • April, 2009 - Design and develop activities, processes and procedures to implement Post 9/11 G.I. Bill to enhance veterans' services.
  • Begin processing new G.I. Bill benefits
  • By Spring 2010, Have a process in place to provide services and resources to address educational, financial, social, and emotional needs of veterans.
  • Form the Action Project team and begin deliberations by March 15, 2009.
  • Identify specific community and government representatives by March 31, 2009.
  • Establish subgroups from the Action Project team to develop action items based upon project goals by April 30, 2009.
  • Prioritize subgroup action items by short-term (by 7/31/09) and long-term (beyond 7/31/09) implementation.
  • Assess implemented action items by 7/31/09.

Back to Top Who are the most important stakeholders for this project?

  • Veterans students and their dependents
  • Southwestern Illinois College
  • The Community

Back to Top Who is (are) the Action Project Sponsor(s) for this project? How has support from the sponsor(s) been confirmed?

  • Clay Baitman, VP of Instruction
  • Valerie Thaxton, Vice President, Community Services
  • Rob Hilgenbrink, Vice President, Administrative Services

Back to Top Who are the AQIP Champions assigned to this project?

  • Marsha Garner, Director of Financial Aid
  • Martha Nelson, Dean of Counseling and Human Development Services
  • Michelle Birk, Interim Dean of Enrollment Services

Back to Top Who will prepare a process map (if appropriate) of the areas in which measurement will be focused?

H.O. Brownback, Director, Institutional Research, Planning and Evaluation