Results of a national survey have contributed to a No. 3 ranking for the University of Central Missouri, among large public universities and a 2017 Top 10 Gold-level Military Friendly® School Award by an organization many military members and veterans turn to when considering choices for a higher education. 

Information about the university’s achievement was released by Victory Media, originator of the family of Military Friendly® employment, entrepreneurship and education resources for veterans and their families.

For more than a decade, Victory Media has provided ratings to recognize companies and colleges that demonstrate positive employment and education outcomes for military veterans and their families. More than 200 companies and 1,200 post-secondary schools were designated as Military Friendly®. Of those designated, 151 employers and 541 colleges or universities were recognized for excellence in different categories. Victory Media makes information about these ratings and special awards available on its website militaryfriendly.com.

According to a press release from UCM, the awards program covers public and private universities, with categories for institutions that have less than 10,000 or more than 10,000 students. UCM was in the latter group. Also recognized were non-traditional institutions, community colleges, private vocational schools, online universities, graduate schools, and tier one research institutions.

Award levels consist of Top 10 Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze, depending on how the institution was scored in the rankings. While UCM has previously been recognized as a Military Friendly® School, this is the first time it has ranked in the Top 10 in this recognition program.

“All of our Military Friendly® award recipients set the standard for excellence,” said Daniel Nichols, chief product officer for Victory Media and head of Military Friendly development. “They offer exceptional examples of what it means not just to build a program that meets federal requirements but one that serves the military and veteran community from classrooms to careers.”

Rankings were derived by considering an organization’s ability to meet or exceed Military Friendly® benchmark standards in accordance with academic policies and compliance, admissions and orientation, culture and commitment, financial aid and assistance, graduation and career assistance, military student support and retention.

Among its many initiatives, UCM offers in-state tuition for all active duty and military veterans and a Military Tuition Package that helps reduce costs not covered by traditional military benefits. The university in 2011 established the Military and Veterans Success Center to provide a one-stop resources for active duty service members, veterans and military dependents, and a Command Pass that enables the men and women who served this country free admission to UCM home athletic games.

Being close to Whiteman Air Force Base, UCM also has worked closely with base leaders and personnel to build strong working relationships through collaboration.

“Our stellar Total Force team values the many community partnerships we are privileged to enjoy here in Central Missouri,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, Commander, 509th Bomb Wing.  “This includes our robust relationship with UCM, which provides exemplary support for our Airmen and their families as they pursue their educational goals.”

Jeff Huffman, director of Military and Veteran Services, praised the contributions of his office staff, and the university’s commitment to veterans as a whole. He noted, “The Military Friendly® designation is great for bringing additional awareness of UCM’s exemplary military and veteran services initiative and support. It lets the general public know what everyone on campus already knows, we have a very active and supportive military environment. It starts at the top with President Chuck Ambrose, who makes resources available, and extends to our faculty and staff, whose support of the military is phenomenal.”

Kurt Parsons