The University of Central Oklahoma was designated a Purple Heart University by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Monday, Feb. 19, in a ceremony held on UCO’s campus. Pictured, back row from left to right: Major Joel Dickson, Lieutenant Colonel Lukas L. Toth, James Battles, Joe Story, Gary Lewis and Michael Manning. Bottom row: UCO President Todd G. Lamb and Larry Van Schuyver.

UCO Recognized for Service to Military-Connected Faculty, Staff and Students

The University of Central Oklahoma was designated a Purple Heart University by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Monday, Feb. 19, in a ceremony held on UCO’s campus. Central was awarded this honor for its longstanding commitment to serving military-connected faculty, staff and students, specifically those who were wounded in combat.
“It is an extreme honor for the University of Central Oklahoma to receive this designation as a Purple Heart University,” said UCO President Todd G. Lamb.
“This designation represents the dedication of UCO to serving those who have served. We are grateful to our military-connected students, faculty and staff for their service and sacrifice and are honored to help them as they pursue their next steps.”
To become a Purple Heart University, institutions must develop a purposeful approach to supporting not only those who are military affiliated, but also those who have sacrificed themselves in some way to defend our nation and earned a Purple Heart. Institutions must also meet and exceed standards in providing aid and programming to support Purple Heart recipients’ academic endeavors.
“UCO is honored to receive this recognition of our Purple Heart recipients and military-connected students,” said Tom McShane, director of TRIO Student Support Services – Veterans at UCO.
“We are grateful to the Military Order of the Purple Heart for this designation, which acknowledges our veteran and military-connected students, and the services UCO provides to them.”
The Military Order of the Purple Heart is chartered by Congress for combat-wounded veterans and is composed of military men and women who received the Purple Heart medal for wounds suffered in combat or by an act of international terrorism.
“We are honored to have UCO as a Purple Heart University,” said James Battles, Oklahoma State Department junior vice Purple Heart commander and Purple Heart chapter 820 commander.
“Having UCO support the military and those who have sacrificed for our freedoms humbles me and my fellow veterans. Having UCO support their military students and staff shows the military community that they are not alone in their service and sacrifice for their nation.”
UCO prides itself on our commitment to military-connected students, which is evident in our multiple national rankings and awards.
UCO ranks as a top 100 institution nationwide for providing services and support for military-connected students for the eighth consecutive year on the 2023 Military Times “Best for Vets: Colleges” list. Central was also named a gold-level Military Friendly School in the public universities category with more than 10,000 students by Viqtory Media’s 2023-24 Military Friendly Schools list. In 2023, Central was awarded a grant from the Boeing Foundation to address the emotional, physical and educational needs of military-connected students.
Central provides services and support for veterans and military-connected students through the Veterans Higher Education Resource and Opportunity Center (VetHERO) and federally funded programs. These programs provide services such as assistance with educational benefits certification, enrollment services, mentoring and campus and community engagement opportunities.