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Michael J. Leonard has been named director of St. Bonaventure University’s new Military Aligned Students program, effective July 5.
Leonard is the academic program manager at Frederick (Md.) Community College, with responsibility for the development, assessment and review of 56 career programs.
From 2012 to 2014, Leonard was a training specialist and program manager for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and from 2001 to 2013, he was an operations officer with the United States Air Force.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join the team and lead this unique program. We have a real opportunity to serve the whole military aligned student. St. Bonaventure is the perfect place for veterans and their families to nurture mind, body and spirit,” said Leonard.
Leonard has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri, and master’s degrees from Mississippi State and North Carolina State.
“We are very happy to have Michael on board,” said Rick Trietley, vice president for Student Affairs. “He is extremely well qualified and passionate to build this exciting new program. His 20-plus years of military experience in the Army and Air Force as both a non-commissioned officer and commissioned officer, coupled with his post-service VA and higher education experiences, make him an ideal fit for this innovative initiative.”
The initiative to formalize the recruitment of more veterans and their dependents was approved by the university’s Board of Trustees in the spring.
“The amount of educational aid that veterans and their dependents are eligible for through the Post-9/11 Bill, Montgomery GI Bill and other veterans’ benefits programs makes this market of potential students very attractive to us,” Trietley said. “But we’re only pursuing this because we think that Bonaventure is a great place for veterans and their families to further their education.
“These men and women who have already given so much for our country will be able to enrich our campus with their real-world life experiences, high maturity levels, professionalism and leadership skills honed during their military service.”
Since 2001, more than 5 million student veterans used Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, and that number is expected to rise significantly between now and 2020.
St. Bonaventure is already ranked 18th for service to veterans among colleges in the Northeast by Militaryfriendly.com.
St. Bonaventure, which has been sharing an AmeriCorps-provided veterans recruitment coordinator with Hilbert College for the last two years, has a strong Army ROTC program dating back 80 years, a Student Veterans of America chapter, a veterans lounge, and Wellness Center counselors trained in military issues.
“I also think is a perfect mission fit for St. Bonaventure given that our Franciscan values — respect for diversity, social justice and service — are exactly what veterans and their families are looking for,” Trietley said. “Plus, our faculty mentoring and individualized attention are important attributes that they’re seeking.”
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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