ROTC, Military and Veteran Students Enjoy New Community Space at Lewis University
Published: September 24, 2021.
“Unfortunately, many veteran students still miss out on the traditional college experience, they kind of see their time here as more of a clock in, clock out, you know, a situation they're coming, they're doing their classes and they're going home,” said Scott Inskeep, assistant director of Lewis University Veterans Affairs & Recruitment.
He’s confident that a recent gift from Kathleen Springer will change that for the more than 400 veteran students at Lewis University. “The opportunity that student veterans can live among a group of their peers here, made possible by the generous gift from Kathleen, will help us entice even more students to come here to call Lewis University home and not just where they take their classes.”
Lewis University held a ribbon-cutting ceremony September 9 for the new Kathleen Springer Community Space intended for ROTC, military and veteran students in the St. Charles Borromeo South Residence Hall on the Romeoville campus. The space features a remodeled kitchen with an island and seating.
The Kathleen Springer Community Space is in honor of Kathleen Springer, whose estate gifted more than $315,000 to Lewis University to provide the space and scholarships for housing in St. Charles Borromeo South for ROTC, military, and veteran students. The gift was designed to create a sense of community between veteran and ROTC students to help foster Association, one of the university’s core Mission values.
To carry Springer’s legacy further in support of the university's On the Rise Endowment campaign, the Kathleen Springer Foundation has committed to matching every additional dollar contributed to either the Kathleen Springer Community Space Endowment or the Kathleen Springer ROTC and Veteran Student Housing Endowment. It will match others’ donations dollar for dollar up to $25,000 until the campaign concludes on June 30, 2024. Visit www.alumni.lewisu.edu/Give for more information.
“These endowments, allow us to give gifts to veterans in perpetuity so every year forever, we'll be able to give scholarships to students to be able to live on campus and to create community,” acknowledged Dr. David Livingston, president of Lewis University.
Bill Kovacic, financial planner and family friend, shared how Springer remembered fondly her mornings with ROTC students in the cafeteria after their workouts. As a Sodexo employee, she would provide the famished students a hearty meal and enjoy some lively conversation. She appreciated the sacrifices the students made for their country and loved to provide them a space to relax and refresh as they formed a community in the cafeteria.
Years later, Springer was diagnosed with a terminal illness and discussed her gift to the university. He reflected, “You know it just gave her a lot of peace, to know that she was making a big difference in those at Lewis University. She felt like she was family, and wanted to continue to help.”
Lewis University Aviation Maintenance student Ryan Kos, is already utilizing the space. The Coast Guard veteran enjoys interacting with fellow residents of St. Charles Borromeo Residence Hall. He said last year’s isolation prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic made him realize that he really missed the community atmosphere of the military. Now, this space is giving him that much-desired fellowship.
The vibrant veteran community at Lewis University of more than 400 military veterans is consistently recognized as one of the best in the nation by various organizations, including Military Times. Lewis University student veterans have a retention rate of 79 percent, which is 10 percent higher than the national average. Support from external partners, such as the McCormick Foundation and the American Council of Education, help Lewis University offer unique programs, like the Military Emergency Relief Fund and the Military Education Resource Center for Student Veterans to come to get questions answered in a one-stop-shop format.
Lewis University is an innovative and forward-thinking Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,200 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.