Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015
While most Virginia Commonwealth University faculty, staff and students were enjoying winter break, Stephen T. Ross was busy ramping up for his new role as director of Military Student Services. Ross joined the university on Dec. 15, 2014 — just as everyone else was leaving campus for the break. He wanted to use the time to settle in, organize and prepare for the start of the spring semester.
Ross arrived at VCU after 27 years in a variety of roles at Virginia Military Institute, most recently serving as the director of athletic academic advising.
Military Student Services helps military members, service veterans and their families navigate available university and community resources. The office is dedicated to the success of military students, by easing the transition from military life to a university environment, advocating for military students in the classroom and with the administration, and working with faculty and staff to promote understanding of the unique needs of military students.
Ross outlined three specific goals for his first semester at VCU and service excellence is goal No. 1.
“First, we need to improve our internal operation to make sure we are as efficient in serving our vets and our students as possible,” Ross said. “We need to get our personnel and our processes in order to offer the best possible service.”
Ross said the second goal is to build relationships with student organizations such as the Student Veterans Association while strengthening community service opportunities. The third goal is to revitalize the Green Zone Program.
Ross’s career in higher education was preceded by four years of military service — he served as a captain in the Air Force and was based at the Little Rock Air Force Base.
Ross also brings strong coaching and teambuilding skills to the position. He was VMI’s head soccer coach from 1989 until 2006 and also served as head swimming coach there from 1991 to 1996.
Ross also developed and directed youth soccer camps in the Pacific Rim for eight Air Force installations, which served more than 500 military youth. In the Lexington area, he was the manager and fundraiser for soccer camps and tournaments for more than two decades.
Ross is no stranger to VCU. His parents live in Richmond and he has a brother and a daughter who graduated from VCU.
“I’ve always felt connected to VCU in one way or another,” Ross said.
His experience in higher education and the military allowed him to strengthen that connection in a new way.
“Stephen's experiences as an Air Force captain, the father of a current Army lieutenant, and college administrator give him not only knowledge about the demands of this position, they provide him with insights into the needs of veterans and their families,” said Daphne Rankin, Ph.D., associate vice provost for strategic enrollment management. “He has hit the ground running and we are very happy that he has joined the team in the Division of Strategic Enrollment Management.”
Military students or student veterans in need of assistance should contact Military Student Services by calling 804-828-6563, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the office at room 3122 in Harris Hall. Supporters may also become involved by liking the VCU Military Student Services Facebook page.
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