Greg and Sandra Weisenstein Veterans Center unveiled
● By J. Chambless
The West Chester University community honored Greg and Sandra Weisenstein during a ceremony on March 21.
West Chester University said farewell to retiring president Greg Weisenstein in a variety of ways this year, and certainly one of the most significant came on March 21 when a dedication ceremony took place to formally name the veterans center as the Greg and Sandra Weisenstein Veterans Center.
“This honor that you have bestowed on Sandra and I is very meaningful,” Weisenstein told the university officials, students, friends, and family members who gathered for the dedication ceremony at 624 South High Street. A new sign for the renamed veterans center was unveiled, followed by a campus-wide tribute to the Weisensteins at the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall.
Weisenstein, who became the president of the university in 2009, played a leading role in the establishment of the veterans center as a way to assist the current and former members of the armed forces as they transition back to civilian life.
Weisenstein said that the veterans and their families have sacrificed so much for their country that one of the best things that the university can do is to develop programs that will now help the veterans transition back to civilian life.
Weisenstein was lauded for his tireless support for the veterans center and its mission, and for enrolling a record number of veterans.
“From the start, he took a keen interest in the veterans center,” explained Lillian Morrison, the volunteer center coordinator. “His advocacy for the center has been…responsible for raising attention about the center. We have seen unprecedented growth and support.”
Sarah Tolley, the president of the university’s Student Veterans Group, called Weisenstein an inspiration to student veterans at West Chester University.
Commenting on the decision to name the veterans center after the Weisensteins, Morrison said, “Dr. and Mrs. Weisenstein have played an extremely vital role in bringing us to this point and it is only fitting that their contributions be acknowledged and memorialized in this fashion.”
During Weisenstein’s tenure, programs for returning military veterans have grown considerably. The number of ROTC members has increased from six to approximately fifty-five, and currently there are more than three hundred veterans who attend the university. In addition to the facilities and programs, Weisenstein has arranged for scholarships for both ROTC students and returning veterans.
The veterans center itself offers space for student veterans to utilize a variety of services, including everything from accessing GI Bill benefits to serving as a community center for the students.
A $500,000 endowment gift from Student Services, Incorporated will provide ongoing resources to support student veterans pursuing degrees at the university.
The increased opportunities for student veterans is just one example of Weisenstein’s impact on the university during his seven-year tenure at the helm. The university’s enrollment jumped 20 percent, from 13,621 to 16,609 students, making West Chester the largest university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and the fourth-largest university in southeastern Pennsylvania. Along with the increased enrollment came an expansion of the academic programs. More than a dozen new academic programs were launched with Weisenstein as president, including the university’s first doctoral degrees in nursing, public administration, and education. STEM (science, technology, and math) programs have been expanded, pushing enrollment to more than 4,000 students in the sciences and health sciences. The number of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty increased by 23 percent, from 503 to 618.
There has also been a series of construction projects designed to meet the growing needs of students.
In response to financial challenges—state support for the university has fallen from 32 percent of its operating budget to just 17 percent—West Chester has been able to increase its philanthropic support to record levels of more than $4 million annually. Overall, the university’s economic impact on the region has increased from $220 million in 2006 to more than $500 million in 2015.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email email@example.com.