Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College promotes academic success among military service members and veterans

August 9th, 2011 | SMWC

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) will use a nearly $23,000 grant from Operation Diploma, an initiative of the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University, to develop programs and policies designed to boost academic success of student servicemembers and veterans on campus. The grant was part of more than $1 million that MFRI awarded, through its Operation Diploma initiative, to 25 Indiana post-secondary institutions of higher education. The colleges and universities all proposed ways to enhance services at their campuses for the state’s student service members, veterans and their families.

The award to SMWC will primarily be used to create a virtual distance learning course for service members.  This interdisciplinary course will benefit all service members by offering a common ground to develop the necessary skills that will empower them in future coursework, career, and life situations. The primary goals of the course are to

  • provide support in a successful transition from military to higher education through evaluating servant leadership experiences and continued leadership opportunities,
  • apply military established organizational, critical reading, and cognitive thinking skills to the classroom,
  • utilize self experiences and the experiences of others within the course as it pertains to culture, community, faith, and the individual in an effective way to advance academic ability, and
  • examine the relationship between military and civilian college life and the needed balance with accompanying life obligations and goals.

“Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College appreciates the sacrifices that our military personnel make as they serve our country. It is our honor to continue to offer an opportunity for military personnel andtheir families worldwide to earn a quality education online. We provide support services such as online tutoring to assist students every step of the way because at The Woods online doesn’t mean you’re alone,” said Dottie King, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. 

SMWC is the oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women in the United States. For almost two centuries, the College has been enabling students to develop their abilities, think critically, communicate responsibly, engage in lifelong learning and effectpositive change in a global society. SMWC offers these opportunities to both men and women in the distance and graduate programs. 

Launched with a $5.8 million gift from Lilly Endowment Inc., Operation Diploma empowers Indiana’s post-secondary institutions and student veterans organizations to better serve student service members and veterans entering college for the first time, and those re-entering college after extended service or deployment.

Since 2009, Operation Diploma has awarded more than $2.4 million to Indiana colleges and universities, who have used the funds to produce more effective and supportive services or expand them for these students. This year, institutions submitted competitive proposals for grants of up $100,000.

“This year's proposals demonstrate that we are entering a new phase of campus recognition and support,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI. “Schools are building on their successes to reach for even higher goals and attracting the attention of their neighbor and peer institutions in the process.”

In addition to SMWC, MFRI funded grants at the following institutions:

  • Ball State University
  • Franklin College
  • Indiana State University
  • Indiana University
  • Indiana University Purdue University Ft. Wayne
  • Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Ivy Tech Community College Central Administration (14 regional campuses)
  • Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana
  • Ivy Tech Community College Columbus
  • Ivy Tech Community College East Central
  • Ivy Tech Community College North Central
  • Ivy Tech Community College Northeast
  • Ivy Tech Community College Richmond
  • Ivy Tech Community College Southeast
  • Ivy Tech Community College Southern Indiana
  • Ivy Tech Community College Southwest
  • Purdue University
  • Purdue University North Central
  • University of Evansville
  • University of Southern Indiana

For more information about the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College military program, contact Kim LaComba director, Learning Resource Center at 812-535-5271 or visit

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