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UM Rated No.1 ‘Best for Vets’ University in the SEC, Top 5 Nationally

By Clara Turnage

University Communications

For the first time, the Military Times has listed the University of Mississippi as No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference and No. 5 nationally in its annual Best for Vets ranking

Military Times surveyed 325 colleges and universities across the nation for their resources, opportunities and success rates for veterans. Ole Miss has previously ranked in the top 25 universities, and the dramatic rise in the university’s ranking is proof of its dedication to serving and supporting veterans, Chancellor Glenn Boyce said.

“The University of Mississippi has a deep commitment to our student veterans and our nation’s military,” Boyce said. “Since the first student veteran organization was established on our campus in 1920, we have worked to create an atmosphere that fosters success after service for over 1,900 military-connected students enrolled today.

“This ranking confirms our position as the pinnacle of the Southeastern Conference, and it sets an example for the country to strive toward in serving the ‘Next Greatest Generation.'” 

Military Times’ ranking has become a metric by which potential students and their families assess a university’s military-readiness, said Andrew Newby, assistant director of the UM Office of Veteran and Military Services.

Andrew Newby. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“It’s a trusted source for them because this publication is on every base around the globe,” he said. “When service members go to a base exchange to get the things they need, this publication is there. When they leave active service, they recognize this outlet and will trust what it recommends.” 

The Office of Veteran and Military Services, which began in 2013 and moved to the George Street House in 2021, has become a “one-stop shop” for veterans on campus, Newby said. The house’s central location on campus allows veterans and military-connected students to file to access GI Bill benefits and VA benefits, and offers a place to study, eat and apply for scholarships and military transfer credits, all in one place.

The office instituted the Veteran Treatment Team on campus in 2018, a program that allows student veterans to seek health care on campus instead of having to drive hours to the nearest VA facility. This saves military-connected students time and money and makes health care more accessible for veterans, he said. 

“We are constantly working to develop things our student veterans and military-connected students need to get to, through and beyond higher education,” Newby said. “We have increased our support in the office to be able to meet our students where they are.”

This fall, the office also added an in-house counselor who specializes in the needs of students who are or were active military, he said. 

“With the addition of our embedded counselor from the University Counseling Center, we are bringing things to the students’ proverbial doorstep and putting resources in their way,” he said. “We want to approach their needs in a way that puts resources ‘in their way,’ from the way we designed the layout of Veteran and Military Services and the Veterans Resource Center to the things we offer within their physical space.” 

The latest ranking is an honor, but Newby said the office has no intention of slowing down.

“We are constantly assessing what students want from their school to ensure that we are adapting to the ever-changing needs of new veterans,” he said. “We can’t continue to offer things that worked for the veterans from a decade ago; service members change, and as a result, the needs of veterans change.

“We recognize that priorities and the desires of our students will shift with new generations of veterans, and we have to continue to meet new needs, new issues and new opportunities.”

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