AU opens new military and veteran resource center

%22The+Jack%22+Military+and+Veteran+Resource+Center+is+officially+open+for+use+by+students.

Madison Graver

“The Jack” Military and Veteran Resource Center is officially open for use by students.

Madison Graver

Ashland University has now officially opened its newest facility, the Jack W. Liebert Military & Veteran Resource Center, which is a space dedicated to student veterans and other military veterans to enhance their experiences at AU.

The building is named after the late father of AU alum Deborah Liebert Karl, who graciously donated $1 million to both honor her father and provide AU’s student veterans with a space to call their own.

“My dad was a very humble man, a very generous man who loved his family very much,” Karl said in a press release. “My hope is for all the veteran students to consider this their home.”

The building has two floors that feature study rooms and conference spaces, a lounge area with a couch and TV, as well as an outdoor patio on the lower level.

Before “the Jack” was constructed, student veterans were given a small space up on the seventh floor of the library to study, get work done and spend time with other student veterans. But according to U.S. Marine Corps veteran and AU psychology major De Vaughnte Askew, that space didn’t allow for much of anything.

“It’s nice that we’re out of a one room space in the library,” Askew said. “Now I can actually put a face to all the student veterans who are here. I’ve been here for four years now and I only know a handful of veteran students. It’s a nice place where we all can consolidate and get to know each other.”

One of the challenges for some student veterans is that many of them are commuters, meaning that they would have to track down a place on campus to be able to get work done throughout the day.

“I’d have to go hunt down different rooms where I could go,” Askew said. “We have 24/7 access to at least the downstairs part of this building whereas if I was in the library I’d get kicked out at a certain time. I know there’s veterans with kids and so they’re able to come over here at any time they want to get away from that distraction and actually focus on school.”

Randy Spade, AU’s director of military and veteran services, was a part of the process and said that the resource center was two and a half years in the making.

“This is an opportunity for our military connected and non-military connected civilian students to interact and get to know each other in a new space,” he said. “Giving them a home on campus has made them feel more included in the community and afforded them the opportunity to participate in more activities.”

While the resource center is still very new, Spade wants it to serve as a tool to attract other veterans from around Northeast Ohio to AU.

“I hope that the center becomes a beacon to all of our military connected students in the region to let them know and to be an entry point to experience everything that Ashland University has to offer,” he said.

Ultimately, both Askew and Spade hope the space serves as a destination for student veterans to feel like they belong.

“It just kinda shows that the campus recognizes the sacrifice that student veterans have made,” Askew said. “This is their way of saying, ‘hey we appreciate everything you’ve done so let us give you a space to call your own on campus.’”