The Cal Veteran Services Center has relocated, hopping across Bancroft Way and up the hill from Stiles Hall to the Hearst Gymnasium. The center held a festive reception in its new digs last Friday, offering the campus community the chance to stop by for lunch and a look around.
In November 2014, a gift of more than $500,000 from UC Berkeley alumnus Coleman Fung, a U.S. Army veteran, allowed the student veterans program to open its first-ever center on the second floor of Stiles. The funding also provided a comprehensive network of services, including an additional academic counselor, paid internships for student veterans, peer mentoring, a new website and outreach and recruitment activities.
But Stiles Hall was a home for the center only until a permanent, on-campus site could be found. The hall, across the street from campus and not a university building, also meant paying rent, says Ron Williams, Berkeley’s director of Re-entry Student and Veteran Services. So by moving onto campus, more of the center’s funding now can go to student veteran programs, he adds.
“Finding this new space for us is a tangible way that the campus is demonstrating its commitment to our student veterans,” says Williams. “We have more office space; community space for group study, events and workshops and a space for our mindfulness group and quiet study. It’s great to be back on campus.”
Williams says Berkeley student veterans also will benefit from the center’s close proximity to the Hearst Pool, Hearst Gym’s weight room and physical education classes and programs.
Currently, there are about 300 confirmed student veterans at Berkeley, about 50 more than when the center opened in Stiles Hall. Williams estimates that by 2019, that number will reach 500, as more returned veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars seek higher education, and as Cal Veteran Services’ outreach increases.
“We’re also ramping up services and extending them to all military-affiliated students,” Williams adds, “including the dependents, partners and spouses of veterans and active duty service members.”
The new center is at the northwest corner of the Hearst Gym, on the first floor, and in the same building as the Military Affairs Program, which includes the Air Force, Army and Naval ROTC.