Thursday, November 21, 2013

KCKCC member of new military-affiliated student network

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Kansas City Kansas Community College is working with other universities and community colleges to better meet the needs of military-affiliated students.

Dr. Donna Ekal, associate provost at the University of Texas-El Paso, visited the KCKCC campus Nov. 15 to discuss the next phase of the Academic Institutions for Military Students Network or AIMS.

This network works to encourage a partnership among public colleges and universities to make transferring credits and coursework easier for military students.

The idea is that if transferring credits is made easier for military personnel and their families, there will be increase in degree completion among those students as well as more student engagement.

“We are essentially designing this from the ground up,” Ekal said to a room full of KCKCC staff and faculty members. “All we wanted to do was create something for our military-affiliated students (at the University of Texas-El Paso). But we did not want to do it alone.”

The network is currently in an 18-month planning grant, funded by the Kresge Foundation. The original eight institutions in the network were identified based on where military personnel are most likely to be transferred in and out of at Fort Bliss, which is in El Paso, Texas.

These are Fort Leavenworth, KCKCC; Fort Benning, Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga.; Fort Gordon, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Ga.; Fort Lee, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia State University, in Prince George County, Va.; Fort Sill, Cameron University, in Lawton, Okla. and Fort Stewart, Armstrong Atlantic State University, near Hinesville, Ga. El Paso Community College, which is also near Fort Bliss, is the eighth member of the AIMS Network.

These schools represent the Fort Bliss hub. As the network grows, each member institution will form their own hub based on which posts their military service members are most likely transferred to and from.

Through the membership in the network, member institutions will create an alignment among degree plans such as criminal justice, healthcare and business. This will make it easier for students to transfer credits and still continue working on their degree.

“We believe this will enrich the lives of families,” Ekal said. “What we want to do is create some commonalities (among the member schools) so students do not feel like they are starting from scratch in the event of a transfer.”

Ekal said the next step is to continue assembling an inventory of programs, consortiums and designations with other criteria to make students feel more comfortable and prepared as they move from institution to institution.

In addition, member institutions will begin identifying and marketing on-campus opportunities for military-affiliated students so they can engage more in the campus environment and inventory existing technology so that a common system can be created for communication, advising and promoting the goal of degree completion.

For more information on the AIMS Network, call 915-747-7386 or visit

For questions and information regarding KCKCC’s involvement in the program, contact Karalin McKain, executive director at the KCKCC-Leavenworth Center at 913-651-2111 or by email at