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December 4, 2013

Lawrence Tech named among best universities for veterans

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

SOUTHFIELD — Military veterans seeking a top university in Michigan with the most resources available, look no further.

According to U.S. News and World Report’s latest list of top schools, Southfield’s Lawrence Technological University offers the most to veterans looking to attend a university in Michigan. 

U.S. News and World Report is known for publishing its lists of best institutions, from hospitals to colleges, and grad schools to medical facilities. This year — on Veterans Day — it rolled out its first-ever Best Colleges for Veterans list.

LTU ranked 18th in the 12-state Midwest region — and first in Michigan — in the inaugural ranking of the best colleges for veterans, compiled by U.S. News and World Report.

“These men and women have risked their lives to defend the freedoms that we all enjoy,” explained Lisa Kujawa, assistant provost for enrollment management at LTU. “We want to do everything we can to help them prepare for productive careers.”

LTU was one of 234 colleges nationwide that scored well for graduation rates, faculty resources, reputation and other markers of academic quality measured in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges for Veterans.

To qualify for the new veteran-approved rankings, the colleges also had to be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, two federal initiatives that help reduce the cost of college for veterans, according to LTU spokesman Eric Pope. Another requirement was membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, a group that works to simplify credit transfers and give veterans credit for military training.

The folks at U.S. News and World Report were looking for the institutions of higher education that participate in federal initiatives helping veterans and active service members apply, pay for and complete their degrees, according to the website.

LTU has that and more.

In addition to the GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon Program and SOC Consortium affiliations, LTU offers a 15 percent tuition discount to all active, inactive, reserve and retired military.

The school also made its way to the 2014 Military Friendly Schools list compiled by Victory Media, the publisher of G.I. Jobs magazine. This list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and military spouses as students and to ensure their success on campus.

Nearly 100 veterans take courses at LTU during an academic year, Kujawa explained. This includes Kirill Pavlov, a mechanical engineering major who is a 10-year Army veteran. He has been impressed by the services provided by Norma Julka, LTU’s financial aid and veteran affairs coordinator, he explained.

“Norma is amazing,” she said. “She takes care of everything,”

As a father of an 8-year-old son and a veteran returning from his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, all the help this former staff sergeant can get in obtaining his engineering degree is appreciated, Pavlov said.

Dan Brightwell, chairman of the Southfield Veterans Commission and who earned his BA as a veteran, said the recognition for LTU is well-deserved.

“They should be lauded for giving vets a second chance and a way to get into the workforce from an educational standpoint, and having them so close to us means a lot to the local veterans,” he said.

Brightwell was raised in Georgia and said that, as one of seven children in a financially strapped family, he could not attend college at Atlanta’s Moorehouse College, even though he had gotten accepted right out of high school.

Instead, he served three years in the army and was able to enroll at the age of 21 when he returned, through the GI Bill.

“LTU is upholding a long tradition of bringing our vets back into society, so to speak,” he said. “Vets, they’ve gone out and served, and that’s just a way to repay them in a way — to give them an avenue to a better life.”

U.S. News’ research yielded 10 separate ranking categories: national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities (North, South, Midwest and West) and regional colleges (North, South, Midwest and West).

There were a total of 32 universities in the Midwest that made the list, and two other Michigan institutions trailed LTU on the list; Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti followed closely behind at No. 22, and the University of Michigan-Flint was ranked No. 27.

Adrian College was No. 7 on the regional colleges list.

For the full list or more information, visit www.colleges.usnews. rankings and reviews.com. For more information on the programs and offerings available to veterans at LTU, visit www.ltu.edu.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.