Union Institute & University | Fresh Insight and Creativity |
Published in the May/June 2012 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Neal Meier is well-suited to his position at Union Institute & University (UI&U). A retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, he serves as director, veterans/military affairs, for the institution.
“My primary function is recruiting students and then ensuring that they are well taken care of in our academic system,” Meier said. “We have served over 200 veteran students this previous year and only two have left us before they got their degree. Before coming to Union, I was the dean of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas. And before that, I was the lead trainer for the LCI Corporation.”
His career started well before that, however. “I served for over 20 years in the USMC,” Meier said. “I started in Vietnam as a platoon and then company commander. I was 21. My highest aspiration was to become an infantry battalion commander. I was honored to command 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines from 1986-1988. I then retired as a lieutenant colonel. I received my master’s degree from Virginia Tech and my doctoral degree from UI&U.”
A non-profit, accredited, private university spanning a vast territory from Vermont to Florida and California, Union Institute & University offers undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees. Union provides an array of options for completing coursework, including low-residency programs that combine distance learning with web-based education, small on-ground classes, and totally online programs.
Meier believes that veterans make the best employees and students. “In my experience, veterans come to the workplace with a sense of discipline, teamwork, and a get-the-job-done attitude,” he said. “Because they have been taught to improvise, adapt, and overcome, they often bring fresh insight and creativity to their new workplace.”
Meier’s time in the military also helped him understand the value of diversity, something that has paid dividends since he joined the civilian employment world. “My service in Vietnam, Japan, Hawaii, Africa, and various posts in CONUS helped me understand the nature of diversity and the importance of culture,” he said. “In addition, my successful years in administrative and leadership positions ensured that I had the background and experience to handle the vagaries of institutional management.”
Meier has advice for anyone about to leave the military. “Get the education you need to get the job you want, use your contacts, take a lower level job if you have to, and work your way up, using your service-learned discipline and skills,” he said. “Don’t waste your veteran’s benefits, ensure you understand what the GI Bill has to offer, and take a position in a volunteer organization.”
Meier also has advice for anyone who is pursuing an education. “As a student, be prepared to open your mind to new possibilities,” he said. “Do something for your education each day – even if it is just to email a fellow student for a status report on their education – and form collaborative teams to help you accomplish your education mission.”