May 06, 2013

Copeland named Veterans Services coordinator

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Paul S. Copeland, whose experience includes 27 years with the U.S. Air Force, will be the new Veterans Services coordinator at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The Veterans Center works to ensure that the transition of military veteran to on-campus student is a seamless process. 

“With his extensive military service and his knowledge of the University, Paul will be a great asset for our student veterans,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “We have a longstanding commitment to providing those who served with outstanding educational opportunities, and Paul will play a key role in continuing that tradition.”

The coordinator’s responsibilities include facilitating collaboration among multiple academic and service units on campus, developing relationships with external agencies, and serving as the certifying official for SIU Carbondale for all veterans.

Copeland, who lives with his family in De Soto, will begin his new duties May 8.  He is currently a customer service assistant in the University’s Undergraduate Admissions office.

He sees the Veterans Center continuing as a “one-stop shop” for student veterans.

“Whatever the question, concern or issue, if we can’t immediately resolve it we will collaborate with others across the University,” he said.

In addition to keeping necessary paperwork and database records updated to ensure there is no disruption in student veterans’ educational benefits, a more personal benefit is helping students “map strategies and remove obstacles to achieving their goals,” Copeland said.

“The importance of this position is exactly what attracted me to it,” he said.  “What could possibly be more rewarding than assisting others in building a better future?  The fact that veterans are the constituency is extra icing on the cake because it’s an opportunity to give something back to those who volunteered to serve their country.”

Copeland retired from the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in July 2011, where the bulk of his career was working with ballistic missiles.  His final assignment as an emergency management specialist at Fort Belvoir, Va., was part of a 10-member Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessment Team that included assessing crisis response plans and capabilities at military installations around the world, and providing reports on vulnerabilities along with proposed corrective actions.

From 2006 to 2010, he was a site commander at Fort Belvoir, and as a U.S. senior diplomatic representative, he conducted Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty monitoring of missile production at Votkinsk, Russia.  His experience also includes deputy commander of the 91st Operations Group at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and commander of the 323rd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from SIU Carbondale in 1983. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wyoming in 1990, while serving on active duty. 

SIU Carbondale annually earns honors as being among the nation’s top military-friendly colleges and universities from “Military Advanced Education” and “G.I. Jobs” magazines.  In 2010, the University earned the inaugural Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veterans Education, recognizing SIU Carbondale’s efforts to enhance the educational experiences of student military veterans.

The University serves approximately 650 student military veterans on the Carbondale campus.