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September 24, 2020 |

GGU Partners with Helen Diller Foundation to Launch Full-Service Veterans Center

Veteran and Former Special Assistant to Joint Chiefs of Staff Helps Lead Effort



Golden Gate University is pleased to announce a $2 million commitment of support from The Helen Diller Foundation toward an ambitious initiative that will provide robust support for veterans along their entire educational pathway.

The grant will fund the establishment of a Veteran’s Center that will focus on academic, social and career success. The Center, and related activities, will enhance the support that GGU already provides its strong veterans community, now numbering one in every five students.

“Research shows that veterans enjoy strong academic success—often exceeding that of their peers—when they receive support that is proven to be effective in real settings,” GGU President David Fike said. “We’re extremely grateful to the Helen Diller Foundation for partnering with GGU on this critically important initiative.”

Jackie Safier, president of the Helen Diller Foundation, noted that her mother Helen Diller’s philanthropy always had a focus on education and educational institutions. At this critical time in our society, the Foundation is pleased to support Golden Gate University in deepening the educational experiences of United States military veterans in their efforts to receive a quality education.

The Helen Diller Center for Veterans of U.S. Military Service at Golden Gate University will take a comprehensive approach in tailoring activities and support services for student veterans. This will include:

  • Providing coaching to veterans through the full student experience, including guidance through the complexity of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding, forms and paperwork, and transitioning into educational programs.
  • Offering enhanced digital self-service enrollment and help with financial benefits.
  • Creating and managing a digital community for veterans—a virtual hub of resources.
  • Conducting real-time tracking of individual academic engagement and performance and being proactive with intervention strategies.
  • Identifying and nurturing relationships with non-profit and agency partners that serve the veteran community’s educational needs.
  • Developing and managing key Department of Defense and VA relationships, including at targeted military installations. This potentially includes strengthening connections with VA personnel to improve benefits delivery to GGU student veterans.
  • Providing faculty training to enhance awareness and sensitivity to student veteran needs.

Virtual Veterans Communities is leading the planning for the program and has been assessing GGU’s population of veterans and how to best support their needs.

“This will be a hub that offers veterans a full spectrum of support,’’ Fike said. “We want veterans to feel uniquely supported from the moment they first make contact with GGU all the way through their transition journey. We believe this mission-driven, outcomes-focused approach will return GGU to its historically prominent position as a premier choice for veteran students and active-duty military nationally.”

GGU has a long and rich history of serving active-duty military and veterans. Under President Otto Butz’s leadership in the 1970s and 1980s, GGU was a leader in this arena, offering programs on military installations nationwide. At the time, the unique programming represented a natural extension of GGU’s historic mission to provide adult learners with a professionally-oriented, career-advancing education. As a result, GGU has a large and distinguished base of military veteran alumni.

Meanwhile, GGU has emerged as a leader in online education, offering innovative delivery of fully-remote and hybrid courses. Demand for remote learning has increased markedly in recent years, including among student veterans and active-duty military personnel. The current Covid-19 public health crisis is dramatically accelerating demand for this approach, leading many to speculate that higher education is experiencing a paradigm shift to primarily remote learning technologies.

The new center will take advantage of the university’s expertise in innovative learning and establish a national model for enhanced virtual learning communities for veterans.

The center is being established in honor of distinguished GGU alum, retired chairman and CEO of Bank of America and former commander in the US Naval Reserve, Richard Rosenberg.

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Jason Dempsey, a 22-year Army veteran with deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, will lead the implementation of the center. A former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dempsey oversaw the Chairman’s strategic priority of Keeping Faith with the Military Community and led the development and launch of the Call to Continued Service, an initiative that encourages members of the military to continue their public service after they take off the uniform. He previously served on the White House Task Force on Veterans, Wounded Warriors and Military Families as well as a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady, Michelle Obama, where he worked on the development and implementation of Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden’s initiative to support military families. Dr. Dempsey is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and holds a PhD in political science from Columbia University.

“We’re excited to help GGU improve their offerings to veterans and their families, and to maximize the potential of this generation of student veterans to continue their service to the nation as they reintegrate with their local communities,’’ Dempsey said. “This initiative offers the opportunity to support veterans across the full lifecycle of their educational journey, from support in transition to meaningful, rewarding careers.”


Established in 1999, the Helen Diller Foundation supports education, science and the arts in the Bay Area and Israel. Generous gifts have gone to the UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, the De Young Museum, as well as renovations to the Julius Kahn Playground, Mission Dolores Park, and the Civic Center. The Diller family also sponsors the Diller Family Educator Award for Excellence in Education, which recognizes top educators. Additionally, the family funds global programs for teens, including its Diller Teen Fellows program, which is affiliated with the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco.

Golden Gate University, a private nonprofit, has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing undergraduate and graduate education in accounting, law, taxation, business and related areas since 1901. Programs offer maximum flexibility with evening, weekend and online options. GGU is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the WASC Senior College and University Commission.


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