Sun GazetteKansas City, Mo. – December 31, 2008 – A couple of Northland universities have been recognized for doing their part to help service members stay on track with their education while they help protect the nation.

Park University in Parkville and Grantham University in Kansas City North were both recently named in the list of America's top 20 military-friendly colleges and universities by Military Advanced Education magazine.

This year's honorees were culled from more than 2,000 colleges and universities, according to the introduction to the list.

"These schools were selected by an independent panel of judges from the fields of both education and the military," the story reads. "Their selections are based on each institution's favorable policies toward our men and women in uniform."

Park University was specifically cited by the magazine for its College of Distance Learning, "well-known as a pioneer in nontraditional studies that offers advanced degree programs accessible through multiple and highly respected delivery modalities."

That means that the university does a good job of using a variety of means to help people too busy or isolated to be typical students.

Grantham University is at Zona Rosa and offers classes almost exclusively online or through distance education. It offers several types of financial aid to service members and veterans, according to the university's Web site.

Since World War II, Park University has tried to help members of the armed forces achieve their educational goals, according to Tom Peterman, distance learning director.

"We're very pleased to have other people recognize us for our efforts on behalf of service members," Peterman said. "It's really an attitude that we've tried to encourage in our staff."

Park University has about 20,000 service members enrolled in courses, both online and at one of 38 different remote sites, Peterman explained.

The key to running a college for members of the military is offering a flexible course load through eight-week terms and evening, weekend and Web-based classes, Peterman said.

"We're not making it easier; we're making it convenient," he said.

Many of the 12,000 members of Missouri's Army National Guard are students, according to Captain Tammy Spicer, a public affairs officer. With the Army National Guard playing a bigger role in the nation's defense, soldier-students have become more dependent on schools like Park University, she said.

"If you are in the Missouri National Guard, your deployments are very much a fact of life," Spicer said. "There are institutions that go out of their way to make concessions to these service members."

All of Park University, students benefit by studying with classmates who have military experience, Peterman said.

"A high number of our students are within five years of finishing their military careers, so they're highly motivated to do well," Peterman said. "It makes for an enriched classroom."