Stephens receives TBR Chancellor's Commendation for Military Veterans
By Diana Fedinec
Southwest President Tracy D. Hall presents Tennessee
Board of Regents Chancellor’s Commendation for Military
Veterans to Mike Stephens at the College’s Veterans
Appreciation Dinner Nov. 10, 2021.
Southwest Tennessee Community College kicked off Veterans Week honoring employee Mike Stephens with the 2021 Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans at the College’s Veterans Appreciation Dinner Nov. 10.
Southwest President Tracy D. Hall bestowed the honor which includes Chancellor Flora W. Tydings’ specially-designed Challenge Coin. Challenge coins are a tradition in all branches of the military, signifying special achievement, excellence, hard work, unit pride, respect and esprit de corps.
“I am elated to present this award to Mike,” said Dr. Hall. “Mike is a staunch supporter and advocate of the College. His passion and compassion for his fellow veterans and his extensive military knowledge and experience give him special insight into the relevance and rigor of a veteran’s military training. As a Veterans Education Transition Support Campus, it is our distinct privilege and profound duty to recognize one of our veteran employees for this esteemed honor.”
Stephens has worked as an Electronics Technology faculty member, department chair and dean. In his current roles, he oversees the Veteran’s Reconnect Grant. Under his leadership, the amount of military-associated prior learning credit awarded to veterans and active service members rose 59 percent between 2017 and 2019. He also knows first-hand the impact of colleges and universities that reward military service members for their knowledge and training. As a veteran, he received college credit for his experience in the Navy, along with transfer credit from the Navy schools he attended, helping him to earn his associate and bachelor’s degrees.
“As a veteran, and a faculty evaluator of military courses for the American Council on Education, I know the positive impact military training and military occupations can have on students and employees in a collegiate environment,” Stephens said. “In my over 30 years in higher education, it has been my desire to help veterans achieve their goal of a college degree by translating their prior military training and education into college credit. I am honored to receive this award from Chancellor Tydings.”
During his military career, Stephens was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic in aircraft maintenance aboard the USS Independence air craft carrier and later taught advanced avionics courses at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Millington, TN.
TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings established the veterans commendation last year to honor the service, bravery and sacrifices of veterans across its campuses. Recipients of the award are nominated by their college presidents. This year’s recipients include 14 Soldiers, 9 Sailors, 7 Airmen, 6 Marines and 1 Coast Guardsman. “These 37 men and women represent the spirit and values of our colleges – student success, academic excellence, courage in adversity, and service to campus and community – and the highest ideals of military service,” Tydings said.
Veterans can receive ongoing services and support at TBR institutions to help them make the transition, achieve academic success and earn their degrees. For information about Southwest’s veterans support services, visit the Office of Veterans Affairs or call Veteran Affairs Coordinator Kristina King at 901-333-4029.