Kate Tillotson is the President of the TU Student Veteran Association. She feels that the goal of the group is to “advocate for student veterans on-campus, foster veteran camaraderie and friendship, to create awareness and promote academic success and future employment.” By reaching out to students with events like tailgates at football games, bringing in speakers to explain the VA benefit process and hosting club meetups at the downtown restaurant Lefty’s on Greenwood, they achieve what Tillotison calls “a mixture of providing veteran resources and having fun as a group.” The group is also well-connected with sponsors and veteran resources off-campus, such as the Tulsa Vet Center and community sponsors U.S. Cellular and Chevron.
After meetings with administration, and thanks to the work of Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services Earl Johnson, the club is now moving away from their old space in Fisher East. As Tillotson points out, their old space on the 2nd floor wasn’t ADA accessible, which can be especially problematic for veterans who may have been wounded in combat. Now, the TU Student Veteran Association will be in Norman Village 418, a 2-bedroom apartment that’s currently being remodeled into a multipurpose room for the organization.
Tillotson mentions that many other campuses in the state, such as University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and University of Oklahoma in Tulsa all have this type of veteran center. She feels that the creation of this new space will “raise the bar for The University of Tulsa,” “up veteran recruitment,” and give the group more power to bring in outside organizations like the Veteran’s Association and recruit veterans to TU.
The renovation is being paid for by a grant from Home Depot that TU’s SVA applied for. One of 50 schools to receive the grant in 2016, it essentially gives the group $9000 dollars to spend at Home Depot on whatever they need, including the cost of workers coming in to do the physical renovations to the apartment. Tillotson noted that, despite how helpful the grant is, the group still needs money for things like maintenance, furniture and a printer. However, Tillotson also pointed out that the group has received money from Student Association that has been very helpful to the organization.
The group is working with President Clancy (himself an Air Force veteran) for a grand opening of the new veteran center on January 20. They are hoping to have the mayor of Tulsa, City Councillors and other Tulsa officials in attendance. The group is also having an open house on Veterans Day, next Friday, where anyone is open to come in, talk to club members and see the new space as it nears completion.