WVU, Defense Department sign academic agreement

West Virginia University's School of Journalism could soon expand the availability of online and traditional classes for military service members and others who have studied in a Defense Department training program.

WVU President Jim Clements signed a memorandum of understanding Monday with Col. Jeremy Martin, commandant of the Defense Information School. It's the Defense Department's premier institution for public affairs and visual information training.

Military service members, civilian employees of the Defense Department and international military personnel there study such areas as print journalism, photojournalism, photography, broadcasting, equipment maintenance and various forms of multimedia.

The agreement lays the foundation for an academic partnership that officials say is deliberately non-specific to allow for flexibility.

Projects under the agreement could include designing new curricula, faculty exchanges and guest speakers, among other things.

It will also give WVU instructors and students "unique insight into how the U.S. military tells its own story through multiple media and channels," said Dean Maryanne Reed.

The new agreement also builds upon WVU's continuing recruitment of veterans looking to use their GI Bill benefits.

More than 800 veterans, military personnel or their dependents are currently studying at WVU, including nearly 100 new student veterans who were admitted for the spring semester.

Last fall, WVU created a Mountaineer to Mentor program, pairing new veteran students with others who have made the transition and a faculty or staff member mentor.

While it used to accept GI Bill funding only for undergraduate tuition, WVU has expanded that to include graduate programs in the new School of Public Health, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

WVU is planning to launch several new initiatives aimed at veterans in the coming year.

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