U.S. Veterans Magazine (USVM) recently named Saint Leo University as one of the nation's Best of the Best 2021 Top Veteran-Friendly Schools. Saint Leo will be included in the fall issue of U.S. Veterans Magazine, which will be available via print and digital newsstands later in August. 

USVM polled hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies for this year's Best of the Best evaluations, which in addition to educational institutions, also lists top veteran-friendly employers, initiatives, and government agencies. This year, more than 375 companies and institutions participated.

The magazine states, "These non-biased studies are valuable resources for job-seekers, business owners, students, consumers, senior management, business associations, employment agencies, and consumer groups."

USVM's Best of the Best lists were compiled from market research, independent research, diversity conference participation and survey responses that were performed by DiversityComm's agents and affiliates.

"We are grateful to receive this honor and proud of this recognition as being one of the 'best of the best' veteran-friendly universities," said Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese, Saint Leo University president. "This honor further demonstrates the university's commitment to providing a superior, private university education to those who have served in the armed services. One-third of Saint Leo's students are affiliated with the military, and the university supports them in multiple ways. From offering veteran-specific organizations, to creating spaces such as the Military Resource Centers, to providing specialized programming, Saint Leo values its veterans and military-affiliated students." 

Saint Leo University served as a military college in its past and in 1973, the then-college began offering courses on military bases in Avon Park, FL, and at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. Saint Leo welcomed military students and student-veterans, who were returning from Vietnam, at a time when other colleges shunned them.

The U.S. Department of Defense lists its core values as "duty, integrity, ethics, honor, courage, and loyalty," which coincide with Saint Leo University's core values, which are based on the rule of St. Benedict. As a Benedictine Catholic university, Saint Leo is committed to making higher education more accessible to all students, including military-affiliated and student-veterans.

Taking Care of Veterans

Saint Leo University offers a variety of programming for these students. From events such as Mindful Monday featuring guided meditation via Zoom, to Transition Tuesday, which provides info about making the transition from being in the military to being a college student, the university designs veteran-specific activities to support the student-veterans.

Alumnus Stephen Koehn, a 2020 graduate, said the university was supportive. "At Saint Leo, I found an environment that was encouraging and motivating," he said. "They understood the importance of my transition from soldier to student. My academic success was their No. 1 priority. During orientation, I had the opportunity to get involved with Student Veterans of America, which provides student-veterans numerous opportunities to connect on multiple levels. Saint Leo University afforded me the opportunity to attend the annual SVA National Conference, which prepared me for my next transition to the civilian workforce. Saint Leo University truly does love its veterans."

In addition to more than 6,000 veterans currently being served by Saint Leo University, many of the faculty and staff are military-affiliated. "This has helped create an environment that serves our nation's warriors with excellence," said Dr. Jen Shaw, vice president of Students Affairs. "For example, our Career Services provides a special portal that translates military vernacular to business-oriented résumé language and serves not only our current students, but also our alumni for life."

Veteran Studies Degree Offered

Another offering for veterans was well as non-military students will be available in Fall Semester 2021. Saint Leo University this fall is launching the country's first undergraduate degree devoted to veteran studies. A Saint Leo minor also is available in this emerging field.

This program is offered under the College of Arts and Sciences within the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. Students will examine the human experience of military conflict throughout history and across a variety of cultures. The interdisciplinary curriculum draws from the social sciences, humanities, and the arts. The main foundation of this program emphasizes that military service creates unique and diverse communities.

Admissions and enrollment inquiries can be made by phone toll-free at (877) 622-2009 or email at admissions@saintleo.edu.

About the Best of the Best

Each year, DiversityCommInc. (DCI) and its six diversity magazines (Black EOE Journal, HISPANIC Network Magazine, Professional WOMAN's Magazine, U.S. Veterans Magazine, Diversity in STEAM Magazine, and DIVERSEability Magazine) conduct select evaluations of the nation's employers, supplier diversity programs, industry leaders, law enforcement, government agencies, and schools. The evaluations also integrate findings by each magazine independently to identify "Best of the Best" in relation to outreach and accessibility to the minority, veteran, female, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ population. These non-biased studies are a valuable resource for the publication's readers, jobseekers, business owners, students, senior management, and consumers.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering 57 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 18,200 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 16 education centers in five states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 98,000 alumni. Learn more at saintleo.edu.

Media Contact: Mary McCoy, University Writer & Media Relations, mary.mccoy02@saintleo.edu, (352) 588-7118 or cell (813) 610-8416