COAST GUARD-FRIENDLY UNIVERSITY -- Capt. Steven Teschendorf, left, senior commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, and Lake Superior State University President Tony McLain renew an agreement that encourages active-duty personnel and their spouses to pursue a degree at LSSU. The signing took place in a Station conference room that doubles as a distance learning and teaching center. (LSSU/Drew Putvin)
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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University and Sector Sault of the U.S. Coast Guard have renewed into a fourth year an agreement that opens the door to higher education a little wider for men and women who serve their country on the upper Great Lakes.
The compact, signed by LSSU President Tony McLain and Sector Commander Capt. Steven Teschendorf, sets the rate for LSSU tuition the same as the Coast Guard Tuition Assistance Program for Sector Sault Coast Guardsmen. More than 80 students have taken advantage of the program since its inception. The numbers are increasing on the dependent side as spouses are given an introduction to local opportunities. Base officials credit the program as a morale-booster as well.
"It is impressive to have a local university that is willing to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate our Coast Guard members and their dependents," said Capt. Teschendorf. "We have many ambitious and intelligent personnel who would not be able to attend classes in the traditional setting ranging from E-3 to O-4. The on-base option gives them the opportunity to gain the confidence needed to perhaps enter the classroom later.”
The agreement lets LSSU gain a pool of motivated and disciplined students that positions the university to accommodate a new generation of veteran-students who are headed back to school through a recently expanded G.I. Bill. The partnership is also a natural fit for two organizations that have long had a cornerstone presence in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
“We have actually begun seeing graduates who started programs at the onset of this program," said Sector Sault Educational Support Officer Brian Streichert. "MK3 Chris Ward recently completed his associate's degree, and we’ve had two spouses obtained degrees. One more person is within a few courses of his bachelor’s degree."
"It’s just very satisfying to see the results of this program coming through," he added. "These active members are unable to attend full time or in most cases, on campus. This is why it’s so important that LSSU is so flexible and its professor’s so willing to assist in bringing classes to the base.”
LSSU will deliver its 18th course – a statistics class - on base this fall.
Sector Sault's wide geographical area — all of Lake Superior and the northern parts of Lakes Michigan and Huron — means that personnel can also take advantage of LSSU's branch campuses in Escanaba, Dearborn, Gaylord, and Petoskey.
The program is also open to Michigan National Guard personnel with a valid identification card for access to the base.
"Since Dr. McLain originally signed the Memorandum of Understanding, he has seen three different Sector commanders" said Streichert. "However, there has been no change in the core belief of each commander that an educated Coast Guard makes a stronger, more critically thinking force.”
“It was the professional persistence of ESO Brian Streichert, and his vision to work with our school that initiated this program," said LSSU President Tony McLain. "The LSSU and USCG Sector Sault partnership has blossomed into other areas of our programs such as the recently-created intern/volunteer position. This gives our students even more opportunity and experiences that they will be able to use when they enter the work force.”
Since the tuition-assistance program's launch in 2009, $135,000 in benefits have gone to Sector Sault students.
Coast Guardsmen and their spouses who are interested in taking advantage of the program should contact ESO Brian Streichert at 906-635-3355 or e-mail Brian.D.E.Streichert@uscg.mil. For more on educational opportunities at Lake State, contact the admissions office at 906-635-2231; e-mail, email@example.com.
CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Sector Sault Educational Support Officer Brian Streichert, e-mail, 635-3355.