UNO receives high marks in evaluation

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By Sam Winner – Contributor

“Military Times,” an independent news source for active-duty personnel, has named UNO one of the nation’s best colleges for military veterans. More than 4,000 universities were evaluated based on financial assistance, academic flexibility, campus culture and support services. UNO was ranked number 19.

This is the first year UNO has received a ranking from “Military Times,” but it has been honored by several military-focused publications and organizations in recent years.

More than 500 active-duty and veteran military personnel are currently enrolled at UNO. Both undergraduate and graduate classes are available for military personnel at Offutt Air Force Base, either on campus or through online programs.

“I am amazed at how this college is so culturally diverse,” said UNO student Jason Huffstetler. “It caters to both international students and military personnel. As an ROTC cadet, I believe this school will give me the tools to succeed and excel in a rapidly globalizing world.”

The Reserve Officer Training Corps at UNO is an official Air Force training program that gives college students interested in serving their country the ability to graduate with a college degree as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Within Det. 470, UNO’s specific detachment, cadets learn military customs and courtesies through different classes such as Physical Training and Leadership Laboratories. They are taught the Air Force Core Values – integrity first, service before self and excellence in all they do. Current active duty officers and enlisted men and women, known as the ‘cadre,’ are the professionals responsible for teaching cadets all they need to know in the Air Force. The current commander and the Commandant of Cadets of “the Wolfpack” is Lt. Col. Jeffrey Johnson and the Commandant of Cadets is Capt. Heather Wempe.

UNO has been working closely with the United States Strategic Command to increase undergraduate education opportunities for active duty, guard and reserve veterans, as well as retired military and family members since 1950, according to offutt.unomaha.edu. Since the Bootstrap Program’s beginning in 1951, over 12,000 individuals have earned a degree.

In 1992, the Air Force abolished its old program, which contained several illegalities under the U.S. Code, and replaced it with the Educational Leave of Absence Program. According to usmilitary.about.com, the ELA allows active-duty personnel to attend accredited schools full-time for up to two years to obtain degrees including Ph.Ds. The Air Force only asks that military personnel extend their active-duty commitments.

As the headquarters of STRATCOM, Offutt Air Force Base, is one of 10 unified commands under the Department of Defense. The missions of U.S. Strategic Command are “to deter attacks on U.S. vital interests, to ensure U.S. freedom of action in space and cyberspace, to deliver integrated kinetic and non-kinetic effects, to include nuclear and information operations in support of U.S. Joint Force Commander operations,” according to stratcom.mil.

STRATCOM also aims to synchronize global missile defense plans and operations, as well as combat weapons of mass destruction and provide surveillance and security recommendations to the the Secretary of Defense, current Robert Gates.

The Bachelor of General Studies program was created in part as a result of UNO’s alignment with the military. It features more than 45 areas of concentration, many of which are specifically designed to meet the career needs of military personnel.

The degree recognizes some previous college and military credit and gives 10 credit hours for one year of active duty service. To help with this sometimes-difficult transition, UNO has experienced advisers available who work with military and veteran students.

Military1>>UNO students in the AS300 class (left to right): Nathan Tesch, Katie Thompson, Chase Luedeke, Luke Gabriel, Lee Langdon, Nick Freeman, Jason Huffstetler and Jacob Pamerenke. (Photo by Joe Shearer/The Gateway)

Military 2>>Senator Chuck Hagel speaks at UNO’s Veteran’s Day Celebration on Nov. 11. (Photo by Ed Watkins/The Gateway)

Student government

approves transit program,

lecture series; bids good-bye

to long-time member

Emily Johnson

Editor-in-Chief

Four hundred UNO students can take advantage of free bus rides to campus through a new Pass to Class pilot program during the spring and fall 2011 semesters next year.

Sen. Gerard Wellman authored the $40,000 proposal, approximately half of which will be paid for by the UNO Student Government. Metro Area Transit will pay for the other half. The program doesn’t currently include the summer semester and will last through the end of the fall semester, or until the funds have been used.

Student Government e-mailed a transportation survey to students two months ago. Of the 15,448 UNO students, only 659 participated in the survey. The majority of the respondents (80.6 percent) reported never having used an Omaha or Council Bluffs city bus system. Seventy percent have never ridden the bus to UNO, but 55.2 percent said they would ride the bus to campus if it were free for all UNO students.

The measure was discussed for about an hour before being passed during the Student Government Senate’s last meeting on Nov. 11. All but one senator approved the resolution. Increasing parking expenses and traffic congestion have long been a problem for the UNO community, but senators expressed concern that not enough students would use the program.

Wellman said that two-thirds of metropolitan universities in the United States already offer free or subsidized public transportation for students. Currently, he said, using MAT buses ($2.50 each day) to get to UNO costs a student twice as much as paying for a parking pass (about $1.08 each day). He hopes the pilot program will gain student support now that the cost is roughly equal.

“Few non-car-based transportation options are provided to UNO students attending class and campus activities, and this has a disproportionate impact on international students, the disabled, those who wish to minimize their environmental impact and those who cannot afford a personal vehicle,” Wellman wrote in the resolution.

The MAT bus route extends from downtown Omaha to 90th and 108th streets, wrapping around to include streets in the northern and southern parts of Omaha. Wellman said that one route stretches to Oak View Mall and 144th Street.

“Students who live west of 108th Street can basically use the park and ride system,” Wellman said, citing multiple parking areas near the western edge of the route.

The senators are unsure of how to handle issues including possible abuses of the system – such as if  students were to use their passes to commute to work – how much or whether students could possibly be charged, or what a long-term goal of the program would be, but agreed the program’s future rests upon student response and popular support.

In other news, Executive Treasurer Stephanie Pravecek recommended Sens. Seth Jones and Terrence Batiste to the Student Activities Budget Commission, an annual panel composed of UNO faculty, students and student government members that allocates funding for student-focused groups.

Both were recommended by Executive Treasurer Stephanie Pravecek, who is also new to SABC. Before their appointments to the committee, both Jones and Batiste admitted little experience but enthusiasm for the positions.

“I don’t like math, but I like zeros at the end of dollar signs,” Jones said jokingly.

Jones said he’s looking forward to the experience, with a future ambition to apply for the Executive Treasurer position. Jones was appointed unanimously without questions.

Batiste said he doesn’t have personal experience with SABC  and while he is also bad at math, he wants to get more involved. He cited cutting printing funds for The Gateway as one of his major concerns, which elicited questions from multiple senators.

Sen. Wrobel and Sen. Curtis voiced concerns that Batiste has a negative opinion about The Gateway, and questioned Batiste’s objectivity in making budget decisions for the newspaper this year.

“I’m not going to lie, I think The Gateway needs a little less funding,” Batiste said. “I don’t think that it’s appropriate that they’re handing out two copies every single week.”

The Gateway is funded primarily by advertising, with the remaining cost distributed among UNO students as part of a $131.55 fee that also pays for Student Government, Student Programming Organizations, Milo Bail Student Center Expansion/Renovation Bonds and other facility support. For this, UNO students, faculty and community can access issues free of charge throughout the year. Most universities employ the same system to pay for student newspapers.

In a student vote during the Fall 2009 semester, 641 students voted in favor of student funding, while 482 voted against, 402 offered no opinion and 73 offered no vote.

The UNO newspapers-on-campus initiative that began in 2007 also uses student fees to provide students with The New York Times, USA Today and The Omaha World-Herald.   

Sen. Schondelmeyer questioned if Batiste was forming his thoughts from his opinion of The Gateway as an organization, or from the funds that were available.

Batiste responded that he had spoken with several students who told him they never read or were interested in getting involved in The Gateway.

“I walk by stacks and stacks of it every day, and for me that means the money could obviously go towards something else,” he said, adding that The Gateway had plenty of time to sort its problems out in the past.

Sen. Huben granted his time to The Gateway, which asked Batiste if his concerns were merely about his observations about the print version of The Gateway or the organization as a whole, including the shift college readers have made from print to online and the launch of The Gateway’s new website two weeks ago.

Batiste replied that he would support The Gateway’s progression online.

“My mission on SABC will not be to decimate or destroy the paper,” Batiste responded. “What I’m saying is that I agree to a point that most newspapers are going to online. I think we should help The Gateway go about that, by taking a little less money operationally to produce papers that no one is reading.”

Student Body President/Regent Michael Crabb authored the second resolution of the evening. Sponsored by Sens. Agrawak, O’Connor and Tefft, the unanimously approved resolution introduces a new “Unorthodox Lecture Series” to UNO’s campus. The Student Government Academic Excellence committee will nominate and select speakers with the SOLP office “connect passionate faculty with our engaged student body,” Crabb wrote in the resolution.

In other meeting news, Huben and Tefft proposed a future initiative called Fund for Undergraduate Experience, or FUSE. The purpose of these funds would be to grant university funds for undergraduate students projects. A committee would review applications twice a year, and, if selected, a student would work closely with a mentor (most likely a professor). The senators plan to bring the proposal to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents soon.

In final news, Chief Administrative Officer Matt Nelson announced the submission of his resignation, effective at the end of this semester. He informed the Senate that he accepted a job as a UNO teaching assistant for next semester, which will occupy his time, and announced his position open for application. Nelson has served Student Government for three years.

 

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