With an average student population age of 30, varying slightly by semester, Goodwin University has long demonstrated its commitment to serving non-traditional learners who may have postponed a college degree to fulfill family commitments, pursued career choices that ultimately proved unfulfilling, or followed other paths of personal growth and expression before facing the rigors of academics. Unique among these “undiscovered learners,” as Goodwin president Mark Scheinberg refers to them, are student veterans.
While earning their degrees or certifications, student veterans walk a fine line unlike anything experienced by their younger classmates. On one hand, they may want to sample a traditional higher ed experience, complete with social interactions, clubs and activities, perhaps even athletics. On the other, these women and men have life experiences to their credit that their fellow students can only imagine, from the structures of military life to life-and-death situations that left them changed forever. How to find a place to fit in on a college campus where your needs may not be recognized, let alone understood and respected? It is common for veterans not to self-identify or even know who the other veterans are on campus.
Meet the OASIS (Operation Academic Support for Incoming Service) concept, a campus center where student veterans can study, relax, and socialize with fellow service members, both former and active. Originally conceived by a group of women’s clubs that funded and created these spaces, the centers have taken hold at colleges and universities throughout the state.
It has been a long-desired goal to establish a Veterans OASIS at Goodwin. The University has been recognized in the past for its service to veterans, most recently earning Gold Level status as a Military Friendly® School and a Military Friendly® Spouse School for 2021-2022.
“Prior to my arrival in 2017, a Veterans OASIS had already been identified as a critical need by the Goodwin student veteran community,” explained Veterans Coordinator Craig Jordan. “In preparation for when the time was right, I have worked with our student veterans on possible room layouts, amenities, computer needs, signage, and military displays.”
Still funding for creating the actual space remained elusive.
Now, thanks to a generous leadership gift from Ellen and Ethan Foxman, the Veterans OASIS at Goodwin University has become a reality. On Thursday, November 10, the University cut the ribbon to officially open the facility. The guests, comprising students, faculty, staff, trustees, and several military representatives, celebrated the University’s latest milestone and acknowledged the generosity that made it all possible.
The Foxmans see their gift as actually having a dual purpose. “Over time, I’ve seen the need for a Veterans OASIS become more and more critical,” said Dr. Foxman, a longtime trustee of the University and president of the Goodwin Foundation board. “Ellen and I are honored to play a part in moving it off of the drawing board and making it a real space that serves our veteran community.”
And while not formally bearing the names of the Foxmans’ fathers, the Veterans OASIS honors the memories of David Foxman and Robert Flescher, who both served in the military. “Knowing that our families’ legacies of service will stand as a permanent part of Goodwin University makes this even more meaningful,” Dr. Foxman added.
The new center is located on Riverside Drive in East Hartford, directly across from the Student Affairs suite in the University’s main academic building. “Our student veterans and our general student body have needs that both overlap and diverge,” remarked Vice President for Student Affairs Tyrone Black. “Locating the Veterans OASIS next to, but separate from, Student Affairs speaks to the holistic way we are trying to support our veterans. They can use that space as befits their status as veterans, but then come right across the hall for more general support services.”
Veterans agree that the new addition to Goodwin’s resources will help address their need for an academic space as well as for a place of community. “I am thankful for the Veteran OASIS,” said current ABSN student Sam Ferrucci. “It’s a home for student veterans to network and support each other. It’s also a place for us to reflect on where we have been and where we are heading.”
“Sometimes you come across a project that is simply an honor to work on,” said Hannah Granfield, Director of Foundation Relations at Goodwin. “Thanks to the Foxmans, so many of us at the University have now had that experience. Their gift has enabled us to create something that is greater than our individual roles, and that will serve an important part of our community for years to come. This really is the day a dream came true for us.”
The Veterans OASIS is currently open and staffed 25 hours per week, and veterans can access the facility even during off hours as needed. For more information, please contact Craig Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-913-2010. Those interested in adding their additional support are encouraged to contact Hannah Granfield in the Goodwin Foundation Office at email@example.com or 860-913-2166.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.