columbia university center for veteran transition and integration (CVTI)

Facilitating cross-disciplinary collaboration to support veterans in higher education. 


Every year 200,000 active duty service members transition out of military life. At the time of separation, these newly-minted veterans typically choose one of three paths: find a job, start a business, or continue their education supported by financial benefits provided by the GI Bill.

Columbia University is recognized as having the most successful veteran integration programming of any Ivy League or highly selective university, admitting more veterans than all the other Ivys combined. The Columbia University Center for Veteran Transition and Integration (CVTI) was formed out of a desire to create a national center of excellence charged with sharing the success of the university's transition program. 

One of the greatest challenges in creating success for student veterans is the complexity of the cultural transition from the armed services into higher education, especially considering the many different kinds of higher ed environments accessible thanks to GI Bill funding.

Inspired by a conversation with the Transition to Veteran Program Office within the DoD, CVTI convened a group of veteran program administrators and senior leaders from institutions of higher learning all over the country in January 2018 to begin to explore how collaboration might help to bridge some of that cultural divide. 

Through the Digital Storytelling Lab, CVTI brought Rachel in to lead design and facilitation at the convening. The goal of this first event was simple – determine whether or not there's appetite for collaboration and further engagement. The answer was a resounding yes.

In August 2018, Rachel returned to support the second meeting, working with representatives from over 30 schools from every region of the United States. Though there are still many questions to be answered, and next steps to be taken, the Veterans in Higher Education Collaborative is beginning to take shape.

We're already seeing relationships and collaborations emerge, and expect to be formalizing the strategy of the Collaborative over two more convenings in 2019.   



Facilitating the first convening
Columbia University Faculty House, January 2018