KU Press Release: KU announces Student Veteran Center director

The University of Kansas has named a program manager for its new Student Veteran Center.

April Blackmon Strange is a lifelong military family member and former community engagement communications manager at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She will oversee the new center, which is designed to be KU’s single point of contact to coordinate support to military-connected students.

“April comes to KU with impressive experience serving veterans and a deep appreciation for the military,” said Mike Denning, director of the Office of Graduate Military Programs. “Her experience in establishing new programs, such as the Military and Veterans Affairs initiative at KU Medical Center, will benefit KU and the military-connected students we serve.”

The Student Veteran Center will provide services tailored to military-connected students. The goal is to ensure those students have the support they need to successfully transition from the military to campus, graduate, and move to civilian life.

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Blackmon Strange said. “KU is committing significant resources to empower those transitioning from the military world to civilian life — veterans, spouses, dependents and Gold Star family members — to thrive.”

The Student Veteran Center was created this spring and will spend the coming months preparing to serve students in earnest by early 2017. The center will start with Blackmon Strange as its only employee but will have access to staff and resources from numerous other KU units.

“We’re building strong partnerships with the KU community to create a positive experience from pre-admissions to graduation and beyond for military-connected students,” she said. “Our aim is to not just be a dropoff point for VA benefits paperwork but a hub for a variety of resources, as well as a place for students to connect with others who have shared backgrounds.”

As an Army “brat” and the spouse of a recently retired veteran, Blackmon Strange has also spent the majority of her career working to connect military and civilian communities.

“My personal experiences have given me a passion for ensuring no veteran or family member feels alone or struggles, especially as they navigate military transition and college life,” she said.

Earning her undergraduate and graduate degree at Kansas State University, Blackmon Strange’s professional career includes serving as the founder and first director of USO Fort Riley and community relations officer for the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley.

The new center will solidify KU’s current position as a leading university in Kansas and the nation for comprehensive student veteran programming. In November, KU was ranked No. 10 nationally in the Military Times “Best for Vets” four-year schools. And in February, the Business School was the Military Times’ No. 4-ranked business school in the nation. KU has more than 1,000 military-connected students on all campuses.

More information about the Student Veteran Center can be found at veterans.ku.edu.