Rosalynn Johnson, UW Tacoma’s associate director of veteran and military resources, has been named the 2018 Student Veterans of America Chapter Advisor of the Year. The recognition was announced at NatCon2018, the SVA annual meeting in San Antonio, Tex.
Johnson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served six years in the U.S. Army as an ordnance officer, has been a military spouse for more than 20 years, and joined the UW Tacoma staff in 2015. She oversees the PAVE at UW Tacoma, the Peer Advisor for Veteran Education program, and has a role in virtually every military- or veteran-related activity on campus.
The honor caps a year of growth for the campus’s veteran and military office. Military-affiliated individuals now represent 20% of UW Tacoma’s enrollment—1,050 of 5,185—up from 14% in 2014. These students are veterans, active duty personnel, National Guard and reservists, and spouses and children, with connections to all five services of the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
The growth in military-affiliated enrollment is mirrored by an expansion of programs that leverage the skills and talents of veterans and military personnel. For example, VIBE, the Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship, fosters the natural entrepreneurial inclinations of veterans through comprehensive mentoring and an annual business plan competition.
This year, UW Tacoma was represented at NatCon by 11 attendees: Johnson and ten students. Eight of the students made the trip with support from a crowdfunding campaign.
“That’s an example of Roz at work: she saw it was important to give more students the ability to travel to the national convention, and she just figured out how to make it happen,” said Thomas Duke, UW Tacoma’s annual giving officer. She made it happen by connecting Duke to Chris Burd, current student veteran campus leader.
Johnson’s strategic understanding of higher education issues was recently tapped by the Department of Defense. At the end of January, the DOD Transition to Veterans Program Office convened at Columbia University in New York City a group of 16 universities, including UW Tacoma, to form the Veterans in Higher Education Collaborative. Invited schools are doing innovative and effective work on transition, and, besides UW Tacoma, include Dartmouth, Syracuse, Duke, San Diego State, Georgetown, Saddleback Community College, and others. The group will share and replicate best practices and explore ways the transition from military and support of veterans in higher education may be improved.
“Roz is a natural to be serving in the collaborative,” said Andrea Coker-Anderson, UW Tacoma Registrar. “She understands the many roles of our military-affiliated students, having lived them first-hand. One of Roz’s many strengths is that she can strategically see the big picture of the important role the military-affiliated community plays at our university and in our community. She also sees the details needed to support our student veterans and create the community needed for their transition to be a success. What a great combination.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org