No plans for on-campus veteran’s center

The St. Thomas Veterans’ Association has been lobbying for an on-campus veteran’s center for more than a year, but administration officials have said it is out of the question.

Student veterans proposed a veteran's center be created and located in some of the vacated Murray-Herrick space. (Patrick Roche/TommieMedia)
Student veterans proposed a veteran's center be created and located in some of the vacated Murray-Herrick space. (Patrick Roche/TommieMedia)

Senior David Sepeda, president of the STVA, approached Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney last year with the idea.

“I asked what was going to happen with some of the space that was going to open up in Murray-Herrick,” Sepeda said. “She didn’t deny it, she said it sounded like a good idea.”

However, Director of Student Engagement Vern Klobassa said the university does not have any plans to create a veteran’s center.

“We have a lot of specific special student populations that all have needs and wants, and we are trying to figure out how to best support those specific populations in the grand scheme of our conviction to personal attention at the university,” Klobassa said.

Senior Matt Scott said he thinks the veterans deserve a spot, even though he has never served in the military.

“I think a lot of groups on campus already have areas,” Scott said “There is an inter-cultural center, I know HANA has a room specifically for them. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for them (veterans) to re-acclimate to, I guess you could say, normal life.”

Klobassa said balancing the needs of students is challenging for the university.

“Like transfer students and various ethnic and religious groups and our many clubs and organizations–we don’t have the capacity at the university to create a center for all of them,” he said.

Sepeda stated that his goal, and top priority as president of the Veterans’ Association, is to ensure that the issue remains at the forefront for veterans at the university.

“I think it would be a tragedy to not have a veteran’s center here at St. Thomas,” Sepeda said. “(Military) is in the institution’s history, from the time it was founded, through Father John Ireland. It is the right thing to do.”

Klobassa said the St. Thomas Veteran’s Advisory Committee, made up of various representatives from offices throughout the campus, meets on a regular, continual basis to “make St. Thomas the most welcoming community possible for our student veterans.”

Patrick Roche can be reached at

5 Replies to “No plans for on-campus veteran’s center”

  1. As a graduate of UST I find it sad that the university can’t find the space for veterans when local community colleges – places with less funding and space than Saint Thomas – have been able to make spaces for veterans. Of course the reality here is not that UST can’t make space for veterans, but that it won’t make space for veterans.

    This does not surprise me. I am personally a veteran and during my time at UST I generally felt that the administration was unsympathetic to veterans in general. My professors were wonderful, but almost all of my interaction with the administration was extremely negative. I will admit that a few wonderful ladies in financial aid were extremely helpful, but in general it seemed as if UST’s administration could have cared less about veterans and the non-traditional student population as a whole.

    There is not a lot that I can do about this today except to say two things: (1) Saint Thomas will never get another cent of my money with their current policies (2) I will encourage every other alum to do the same.

  2. This article is not a representation of the student veteran body as a whole. As a student veteran I’m very thankful for all that UST has done for me and my fellow vets. Through the VA’s Yellow Ribbon program UST gives tuition support of up to $10,000 a year towards each eligible veteran student. This is a program that UST is not forced to participate.
    As for a Veterans room, I don’t see a clear mission or purpose. I see it further ostracizing veteran students, costing space/ money, and not falling in line with the reasons why veteran students go to UST. (the same reasons why anyone else goes to UST)

  3. First off, it seems a bit naive to give the University of Saint Thomas “props” for being a member of the Yellow Ribbon program when practically every private university in Minnesota belongs to the program. That’s simply called getting in live with everyone else, not being “veteran friendly.”

    Not having a clear mission and purpose was – and is – the Aquinas Scholar’s lounge which most scholars use for free printing. A veteran’s student center could help bring the veteran student body of UST together. For example, I graduated this December and I don’t know who you are! It could also be a one stop center for veteran’s to find out what kind of benefits they have after leaving the military. I know scores of veterans who don’t realize exactly what benefits they have.

    I personally didn’t realize how little UST did for it’s veteran student body until I was accepted to the University of Virginia Law School. Admissions immediately put me in contact with other veterans at the school. I had a two hour phone call with the president of their student veterans group on Charlottesville Virginia, UVA, and how to use my military experiences to my advantage. And that is just the tip of the ice berg.

  4. As a combat vet of Iraq, I to feel that the University of St.Thomas could do a little more to help those who are comming home from serving and intergating into the civilian population and traditonal school setting. I personally have met only one other combat vet of OIF myself, who has struggled due to PTSD and other service related injeries to complete his classes. I belive that if there was a place for VET’s who can talk to an advisor to help them navagate into new surrandings and have access to resourses to help them be a success as a student.

  5. In general I have enjoyed my time at St. Thomas, and the professors in my major have been very supportive of me and my military obligations. As for the University administration, I wish I could say the same.  It has been my experience that St. Thomas is one of the least veteran friendly institutions to work with, even with their  St. Thomas Veteran’s Advisory Committee.
     Although I have to thank the VA representative at the registrar, as she seems to have to do a lot with little resources.  Thank you.
    As for an on campus veteran center, I would really like to ask the University to reconsider their decision on this. This is not just some university club asking for their own room, and if the  St. Thomas Veteran’s Advisory Committee can not see this, I would ask what is the end goal of this committee.
    Even Monsignor Murphy knew what it meant to serve. After all he was a General in the Air Force. What better way to once again thank Monsignor Murphy for all he did at St. Thomas, to thank him for his service to his Country, and support his fellow veterans by createing the General Terrence Murphy Veteran Center.  

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