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IMAGES: Evangel Dedicates Veterans Center to Retired Navy Chief

Close to 100 students at Evangel University and Assemblies of God Theological Seminary are using their veteran benefits at the Admiral Vern Clark Veterans Center.

A 1967 graduate of Evangel, Admiral Clark is a retired Chief of Naval Operations for the U.S. Navy. He served in that position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000-2005, and is the second longest serving CNO in history.

On Tuesday, the school held a dedication ceremony for Clark, which featured a salute from the Marine Corps color guard unit from the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Springfield, and the Airlifted Brass quintet from Scott Air Force Base (Ill). Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who worked closely with Admiral Clark, delivered the dedication address.  

“It is fabulous that Evangel University has taken this step to say to veterans, ‘We want to support your needs,’” Clark said in a news release. “This center sends a message about how much Evangel appreciates the service of our military members. I am grateful that this is a veteran-friendly institution.”

Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU

The veterans center opened to Evangel and AGTS veterans last summer. It is designed to offer a smooth transition for veterans back into civilian life, and for those returning to the military.

“The vision for this center is to equip veterans during their university experience for academic excellence, spiritual empowerment and future success,” said Dr. Dale Garrett, associate professor of government at Evangel and faculty advisor to the Student Veterans Association. Garrett is also a retired Lt. Col. (USAF) and a three-time Air Force Squadron Commander.

He says equipping veterans means helping them keep track of required federal paperwork, connecting them with upperclassmen who can familiarize them with the university and by offering a comfortable place to relax.

The Admiral Vern Clark Veterans Center is located on the first floor of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary on the Evangel campus. It features a lounge area and meeting rooms, as well as an encased naval uniform and pictures of Admiral Clark. The center was made possible by generous donations of Jack Weimer and the Student Advisory Council at AGTS.

Clark lived in Springfield from second grade through middle school, returning to complete a degree in business from Evangel in 1967.

A year later, during the height of the Vietnam War, Clark was recruited into the Navy. 31 years later, he was promoted to four-star admiral and command of the military branch.

He has spoken at Evangel’s homecoming and commencement ceremonies on several occasions, and in 1989 was honored with the school’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.