By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (Nov. 10, 2016) -- Students, faculty and staff of the University of South Florida will stay home on Veteran's Day, or they will attend ceremonies for those who have served in this nation's military. But not everyone.
USF Muma College of Business Doctor of Business Administration candidates and faculty will be in session, said Grandon Gill, director of the Muma College of Business program and himself a U.S. Navy veteran. He said about a third of the candidates seeking the doctorate are veterans too and holiday or not, they have agreed to meet and carry on.
"That's a lot of what being in the service means," Gill said. "I served five years in the Navy's submarine force and when you're on patrol, you don't take days off."
The holiday comes just 10 days after USF was named the top university in the nation in how it treats veterans, a prestigious honor bestowed by the military itself, announced last week in Military Times.
"At many colleges and universities you can go to the veterans' center for extra help if you fall behind academically," said the story published on Nov. 1. "At the University of South Florida, the veterans' center goes to you – and you don't have a choice in the matter."
USF's Office of Veteran Success Director Larry Braue said this: "A lot of veterans won't ask for help, even when you reach out to them."
He said the program works because his office tracks academic performance of its student/veterans and notices when grades begin to drop. That signals action and those student/veterans having trouble are contacted and helped.
"It's working," Braue told Military Times. "They've got to come in and we've saved a bunch, that's for sure."
To be considered, colleges completed a 150-question survey. The military reviewed the application along with data collected by three different federal agencies.
USF beat out Rutgers and Syracuse to claim the top spot.
David "Tanker" Snyder is a retired Air Force brigadier general and former MacDill Air Force Base wing commander who now is president of SageCare and AeroSage a government contractor in Tampa. He is enrolled in the Muma College of Business DBA program, which teaches working executives to solve problems through research.
"USF certainly earned the recognition as the top national university for veterans," Snyder said. "This is one of the main reasons why I chose to enroll in the DBA program here.
"The USF Office of Veteran Success does an outstanding job serving veterans so that we are a welcome and appreciated part of the USF team," he said. "They truly are responsible for the success of veterans at USF.
"This Veterans Day I would like to salute USF for the outstanding service to veteran students and educators every day of the year. USF serves those who served the nation."
Added Gill: "I think it's fantastic that USF is so responsive to the needs of veterans. And we've seen this in the DBA program; where veterans' center people at USF come over to the program to get involved. I do think that USF goes the extra mile."
There are a lot of veterans on staff at USF, in the faculty and in the student body, he said, thanks in part to Tampa – home to MacDill Air Force Base – being a veteran rich area. It's attractive for vets to retire here and take advantage of the climate, the number of services available for retired military personnel as well as local educational institutions.
At some universities students who are vets may not mention that they are vets among a young, liberal student body, he said. Not so at USF.
"What I see here is that people are very proud to wear their uniforms around," he said. "Many students in my classes do come to class in their uniforms."
It hasn't always been that way, he said. When Gill was in the service, military service members often were encouraged not to wear their uniforms in public. The nation was still reeling from the Vietnam War and anti-war protests that blamed military personnel rather than the politicians who ordered them there.
"I can say that when I left the service in 1980, that was probably the low point for attitudes toward the service," He said. "There was a lot of hostility toward the military."
But the attitude has changed over time, and now military service members are more appreciated.
"I think that the attitudes now are so much more positive than they were when I was serving," said Gill, who served aboard three nuclear submarines between 1975 and 1980, often going on patrol where his vessel remained submerged for months at a time.
"I am happy," said Gill, "whenever we get a number one rating for something significant. There are a lot of universities competing for that.
He said the designation may drive more student/veterans to USF, from not just Florida, but across the nation.
"Tampa is a city with many diverse perspectives," he said, "but, universally, we do appreciate the military."