February 27, 2012

Cornell Prepares to Hire More Military Veterans

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In accordance with President David Skorton’s recently announced University-wide diversity initiative,  Cornell is vowing to increase the number of military veterans it hires for faculty and staff positions.

As thousands of veterans return to the United States from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the University is currently preparing for the influx of veterans in the job market, according to Davine Bey, diversity recruitment consultant at Cornell’s Recruitment and Employment Center.

“We have stepped up our outreach efforts and participated in a number of events starting last year and in upcoming years,” he said.

In order to improve veteran recruitment, Cornell has committed to veteran employment programs such as Be a Hero, Hire a Hero — an organizationthat has helped thousands of veterans and their spouses connect with employers.

“Besides just having a presence in these programs, we will also be able to present to veterans and be able to talk to them about opportunities at Cornell University,” Bey said.

Prof. Daniel Weed, naval science, a Navy captain who is in his 30th year of service, said that Cornell can tap into a valuable pool of talent by improving its plan for the recruitment of veterans.

Weed added that he expects the number of veterans at Cornell to surge as more troops return from abroad.

“I think one will have to wait for 12 to 18 months before one starts seeing a very large increase in veteran population at Cornell,” he said.

Although the University hopes to recruit more veterans to campus, there are currently nearly 350 self-identified veterans already working at Cornell, according to Bey.

“According to our VETS-100A — a survey conducted as a part of Cornell’s affirmative action plan — as of 2011, we had about 347 veterans working at the University,” he said. “That number is probably skewed as it is based on those who voluntarily recognize themselves as veterans. Arguably, it is double the number.”

Weed said that veterans fit in well at Cornell due to the overlap between the University’s goals and those of military service.

“Our core values, specifically for the Navy, are honor, courage and commitment … very similar to Cornell’s values and goals,” Weed said. “And so when they hire military people, they are very disciplined but flexible. They are intelligent and hardworking.”

However, Bey said that veterans may be beter equipped for some aspects of the civilian workforce.

“A squad leader, for example, has more experience after a year in Iraq than many people have after years of management because it’s instant, real time training,” he said. “But they have to be articulate and show the recruiter how these skills can be applied in the civilian world.”

Transition into civilian life is also difficult for veterans who are now returning from war, according to Navy veteran Robert Stundtner, chair of the Veterans Colleague Network Group, a campus organization that aims to raise awareness of veteran issues and provide veterans a forum to share their experiences.

“Some veterans from [the] Afghanistan and Iraq War[s] who I have encountered in training sessions have had very painful experiences,” Stundtner said. “Fortunately, there were other veterans who reached out and helped comfort them in the course of their training.”

However, veteran Rick Roper, manager of shops construction services for the University’s facilities services, said that most veterans who seek employment at Cornell have positive attitudes and fit in well due to the leadership skills they learned in the military.

“It is not a tough adjustment,” Roper said. “I am working in the area of my expertise. I feel like I fit right in and it wasn’t a difficult transition at all.”

Still, Stundtner said he hopes the University will prioritize recruiting veterans.

“When we were civilians before military service, the saying was, ‘Uncle Sam wants you,’” Stundtner said. “At Cornell, I would like to see the saying for veterans be ‘Uncle Ezra wants you.’”

Original Author: Manu Rathore

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