Simpson University Celebrates Opening of Veterans Success Center
For Immediate Release
Simpson University celebrated the grand opening of its new Veterans Success Center on Nov. 17 with a ceremony highlighted by special music, a flag-raising, and expressions of community support.
“This building is dedicated for one thing: to help veterans get together and be able to have the best chance of succeeding,” guest speaker and retired Marine Lt. Col. Carl Bott said. “Our veterans are successes. They will succeed. The fact that Simpson recognizes them, I appreciate and so much thank you for that.”
About 100 people attended the morning event outside the new center, located in modular building 7 on the west side of campus. Tours of the facility, which includes computer stations and a study room, as well as concessions and a lounge area, followed the ceremony.
Roger Janis, the university’s director of advancement, served as master of ceremonies. Dr. Patrick Blewett, dean of A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary, offered an invocation. A Civil Air Patrol cadet color guard hoisted a flag on a new pole outside the center, accompanied by the Simpson University Women’s Chorale singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The chorale, under the direction of Dr. Cyril Myers, then sang “Armed Forces Salute,” a medley tribute to the five branches of the U.S. military: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy.
University President Robin Dummer acknowledged the veterans in attendance and shared about his family’s history of military service.
“Given that history, I am especially honored to lead Simpson University in support of veterans through an initiative that provides them the opportunity to achieve their academic goals,” he said. “We join Shasta County and the broader North State in serving our deserving veterans just as they have served our country well.”
He introduced Justin Spears, the university’s first veterans services coordinator. Spears, who served as a Navy hospital corpsman, is completing a master of arts in intellectual leadership at Tozer Seminary and is studying the state of veterans higher education in the U.S.
“In renewing Simpson University’s commitment to the Armed Forces veterans community, we’ve undergone some major changes,” Spears said. “It’s my immense privilege to be developing a multifaceted program designed to inspire a successful educational experience for veterans and adequate preparation for meaningful careers.”
In addition to the Veterans Success Center, open weekdays to service members, U.S. military veterans and their guests, the university’s initiative also includes the Success Advocates for Veterans Education (SAVE) team, Spears said. The team comprises 10 on-campus department representatives and four community resources to help with education, health and wellness.
Spears is also working on starting a veterans student club on campus and veterans mentorship programs, among other efforts.
“The center is a one-stop shop to provide access to educational resources and an environment for student veterans to engage with one another,” he said. “It is only a starting point. I look forward to working with service members, veterans, dependents, and everyone in support of veterans education at Simpson.”
Tommy Key, Shasta County’s veterans services officer and a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant, also shared his excitement about the new center and pledged support.
“I’ve watched this group come together over the last seven months, and what they’ve done here is remarkable,” he said.
Erin Ryan, a representative from U.S. Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office, presented a certificate to President Dummer in recognition of the university’s efforts to support veterans.
Bott, who is also a radio host at KCNR 1460 AM, facilitated a cake-cutting ceremony by Marine Corps Sgt. Quintin Mitchell, which honored the crowd’s oldest and youngest veterans, former state Sen. Maurice Johannessen and Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jose Mendez.
Johannessen, a longtime veterans advocate, was instrumental in bringing a state-run Veterans Home and the Northern California Veterans Cemetery to Shasta County. An estimated 19,000 veterans live in the county.
Spears cut a yellow ribbon to open tours of the facility, using a Ka-Bar combat knife from a veteran in the audience who served in Afghanistan.
“For all my brothers and sisters that are in the service, this is what this building is about,” Bott said, referencing a quote from William Shakespeare. “For us, this ‘band of brothers,’ it is to help each other and to move forward and to take our place in society as true leaders and heroes.”
Learn more about the Veterans Success Center at simpsonu.edu/veterans.
Photos by Jack Long
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Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. The university celebrated its 25th year in Redding and the completion of a Science and Nursing Center in 2014. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings, including degrees in psychology and organizational leadership. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit simpsonu.edu.
Contact: SU Public Relations