Schmoke wants to draw more veterans to UB

Daily Record Business Writer//April 14, 2015

Schmoke wants to draw more veterans to UB

By Daniel Leaderman

//Daily Record Business Writer

//April 14, 2015

Former mayor and current University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke wants the school to appeal to more military veterans.

Many people who went into the military expecting to have 20-year careers are being discharged sooner than expected due to downsizing, said Schmoke, whose formal investiture as university president is scheduled for Tuesday.

Many of those veterans will want to go back to school, and the university is planning to make itself as inviting as possible for them.

“We think we’re a perfect fit for those folks,” Schmoke said. “[They’re] more comfortable in a classroom with a wide range of ages.”

The average age for undergraduates at the university is 28, so veterans returning to or just beginning their college educations won’t find themselves in classes dominated by 18-year-olds, Schmoke said.

There’s also a support structure in place at the university that specifically caters to former military members.

Two years ago, university alum Bob Parsons, a Vietnam veteran and founder of, made a three-year, $1 million grant to fund a veterans center on the university’s campus, said Frank LePage, coordinator of the veterans center.

About 240 of the university’s 6,400 students are self-identified veterans receiving post-9/11 GI benefits, LePage said. Schmoke said the school could easily double its number of student veterans within about two years.

The continued draw-down of U.S. Army troops will create a “huge outpouring” of service members, many of whom will be looking to continue their education, said LePage, an Army veteran who later worked for the Department of Homeland Security.

The center’s physical location includes several computer workstations, a kitchenette and a small conference rooms where students often work on group projects, LePage said. A small staff is also on-hand to direct student veterans to other resources on campus, such as tutoring or help organizing their study habits, he said.

“They really like to come here,” LePage said. “Veterans like to have a place for them.”

In the fall, the center plans to begin offering a peer-mentoring program, which would pair incoming student veterans with students or alumni who are also veterans to serve as coaches to help the new students adjust to university life, and an academic early-alert program, which would notify officials if student veterans begin having trouble with their coursework so they can receive support, LePage said.

The center is also trying to develop an internship program for student veterans that they could hopefully translate into permanent work once they graduate, LePage said.

Parsons has indicated he’s willing to expand the veterans center, Schmoke said.

Schmoke became president of the university in July, replacing Robert L. Bogomolny, who served as president since 2002. Schmoke was mayor of Baltimore from 1987 to 1999 and dean of the Howard University School of Law from 2003 to 2012.

In addition to attracting more veterans, Schmoke said he also wants to increase the university’s endowment to $100 million by 2025, about double what it is now, and is likely to start a five-year fundraising push in 2020. The university’s leading donors include Parson and Peter G. Angelos, each of whom gave more than $1 million to the University of Baltimore Foundation in fiscal 2014, according to a foundation report.

The university has about 60,000 living alumni, and the foundation is working to identify new, major donor prospects, Schmoke said.

University officials flirted with the idea of doing away with the schools four-year undergraduate program last fall, but ultimately decided the seven-year-old program should remain.

Instead, the school should be targeting its admissions efforts to the specific programs it offers, such as its business and law schools, rather than trying to compete with schools that have a full range of programs such as the University of Maryland, College Park, Schmoke said.


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