By Denise Dick
Youngstown State University is considering establishing a veterans center — paid for through external funds — at the site of the Peck House.
The Peck House, which stood on Wick Avenue next to the newly renovated Porter and Mary Pollock House, was demolished last month.
Jack Fahey, vice president for student affairs, told the Academic and Student Affairs Committee this week that in 2010, the veterans council, comprised of campus and community representatives, requested establishment of a veterans center.
“The facility would provide spaces for staff to hold private meetings with students, social-gathering space for public events, student lounge space and educational space such as classrooms and a computer lab,” he said.
In 2009, YSU established the Office of Veterans Affairs to address concerns of veterans, provide a place where they feel welcome on campus, ensure veterans succeed academically and assist in recruitment and retention of veteran students.
“The impetus for this was the post-9/11 GI Bill,” Fahey said.
That bill provides support for the education of the 2 million military service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s triggered an increase in the number of veterans pursuing higher education.
Though YSU was ahead of most universities in establishing the Office of Veterans Affairs, other universities have since created veterans centers.
“In 2009, only 14 percent of higher education institutions had a dedicated veterans center,” Fahey said. By 2012, 44 percent of colleges and universities reported that they had created veterans centers.
Most others are planning to create the centers, he said.
“Locally, while we created our Veterans Office before Kent and Akron, both universities have opened attractive new centers for their veterans,” Fahey said.
“They kind of leapfrogged us.”
The estimated cost is $750,000, and veterans are working with R. Scott Evans, vice president for university advancement, to develop a fundraising plan.
Ikram Khawaja, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the building would be about 3,000 square feet and include two floors.
A report on the site for the center is expected Tuesday at the trustees’ Finance and Facilities Committee.