Guildhall administrator, Navy reservist Steven Cole celebrates Veterans Day after returning from deployment in Afghanistan

SMU veterans

Guildhall administrator, Navy reservist Steven Cole celebrates Veterans Day after returning from deployment in Afghanistan

Capt. Steven Cole, USNRNavy veteran Steven Cole is back at SMU as both a staff member and a student after a one-year deployment with the NATO coalition in Afghanistan.

A deputy director with the SMU Guildhall and an officer in the United States Navy Reserve, Capt. Cole returned to the University in August after serving as director of the NATO-led Multinational Fusion Center, Regional Command North (RC-North) – a United Nations-mandated NATO mission in Mazar-i-Sharif with personnel from 17 different countries.

And in spring 2016, Capt. Cole becomes a master’s degree candidate in SMU’s Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management, which shares the SMU-in-Plano campus with the Guildhall. He hopes to complete his postgraduate journey with doctoral studies in behavior sciences.

Capt. Cole’s Navy intelligence service focuses on counterinsurgency, human terrain and strategic analysis. A certified fraud examiner and private investigator with special expertise in forensic accounting, he made good use of his experience in an assignment with the Afghanistan Minister of Interior Affairs and Inspector General, helping to revamp the agency’s training and infrastructure.

“All the money, all the bullets, all the fuel the United States and the coalition are pouring into the government – someone has to account for that,” he says. “You can’t expect an agency to account for things when they don’t even have an accountant on staff.” His audits helped to drive sweeping changes, including the removal of corrupt officials and a revalidation of the ministry’s reporting cycles.

“Now they’re reviewing real numbers,” he says. “And we left a lot of good people in place to continue making progress.” Capt. Cole will retire from Navy Reserve service in an on-campus ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 in the Hillcrest Commons, Collins Executive Education Center.

Capt. Cole began his “dream job” at the Guildhall in April 2014. During his deployment, he carried stacks of Guildhall stickers and business cards and shared them often with fellow service members – most of whom were fellow gamers as well.

“I’d love to see some of these enlisted members come to Lyle or Meadows on their Veterans Administration benefits and join the Guildhall 4+1 program,” he says. “It’s kind of a big deal, and it’s just about the best way to get into a Guildhall program.”

Steven Cole joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in February 1986 and earned his B.B.A. degree in accounting from Abilene Christian University in 1978. His first Navy Reserve assignment was in North Texas: as assistant training officer to Fleet Intelligence Rapid Support Team, Pacific 0470 (FIRSTPAC 0470) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Dallas in Grand Prairie. During his Navy Reserve career he has served as an analyst, intelligence officer and intelligence training instructor with commands throughout California and Texas. His current command is stationed at Carrier Strike Group FOUR, Norfolk, Virginia.

A veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Capt. Cole served with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) mission of counterintelligence, human intelligence, force protection and counterterrorism assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Capt. Cole was awarded the Information Dominance Warfare Officer (IDWO) pin in October 2010. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Meritorious Service (2), Joint Service Commendation and Navy Commendation medals, as well as two Combat Action ribbons.

November 11, 2015|For the Record, News|

Maguire Center, Residence Life honor military vets with ‘Red, White and Blues’ Nov. 11, 2015

SMU Veterans Day 2015 graphicSMU honors military vets everywhere – especially those who are part of the University community – with music, food and festivities on Veterans Day 2015, Wednesday, Nov. 11.

The Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and Residence Life and Student Housing have joined forces to present a “Red, White and Blues” barbecue luncheon, featuring musical entertainment by Dallas blues band Miss Marcy and Her Texas SugarDaddys. The party takes place 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Mack Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center.

All SMU faculty, staff and student military veterans will receive an SMU Veteran lapel pin to recognize their service. Also scheduled are a free raffle, Veterans Day trivia, and a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots drop-off table.

> Find more information at the Maguire Center website: smu.edu/ethics

November 11, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

SMU Guildhall deputy director heads out for active duty in Afghanistan

SMU Guildhall Deputy Director Capt. Steven Cole, US Navy ReserveSteven Cole, deputy director of operations with The Guildhall at SMU and a captain in the United States Navy Reserve, has answered the call of duty for a one-year deployment with the NATO coalition in Afghanistan.

Capt. Cole will serve as director of the NATO-led Multinational Fusion Center, Regional Command North (RC-North) – a United Nations-mandated NATO mission in Mazar-i-Sharif with personnel from 17 different countries.

“The objective is to build the nation and help build the capacity of self-rule. Our primary mission is outreach to the community,” says Cole, whose Navy intelligence service focuses on counterinsurgency, human terrain and strategic analysis.

“Having been a reservist my entire career, this is just another opportunity to serve when asked,” Capt. Cole adds. His experience in joint operations made him a good fit for his current assignment, he says. “The U.S. Navy has the best, most educated and experienced intelligence professionals in the world, so the Navy is always at the top of the list for these assignments.”

Steven Cole joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in February 1986; he earned his B.B.A. degree in accounting from Abilene Christian University in 1978. His first Navy Reserve assignment was in North Texas: as assistant training officer to Fleet Intelligence Rapid Support Team, Pacific 0470 (FIRSTPAC 0470) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Dallas in Grand Prairie. During his Navy Reserve career he has served as an analyst, intelligence officer and intelligence training instructor with commands throughout California and Texas. His current command is stationed at NAS Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base.

A veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Capt. Cole served with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) mission of counterintelligence, human intelligence, force protection and counterterrorism assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Capt. Cole was awarded the Information Dominance Warfare Officer (IDWO) pin in October 2010. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Meritorious Service (2), Joint Service Commendation and Navy Commendation medals, as well as two Combat Action ribbons.

He and his wife, Rita, have two children, Mitchell (with his wife, Sarah) and Rachel. The Cole family make their home in Dallas.

Capt. Cole came to his “dream job” at The Guildhall in April 2014 after a long career as a self-employed forensic accountant, financial consultant and private investigator. He quickly found a home in the SMU community, including among its cadre of military veterans. (As of September 10, 2014, more than 130 U.S. veterans are enrolled in SMU degree programs using their Veterans Administration benefits.)

“My heart is at The Guildhall – it’s the best place in the world to work,” Capt. Cole says. He’s even taken several stacks of Guildhall stickers and business cards with him and never misses an opportunity to share them with fellow service members. “In fact, I just gave a bunch of them to some fellows who were in the cafeteria talking about World of Warcraft,” he says.

Lecturer in Production Mark Nausha has taken on Capt. Cole’s duties during his absence and will serve double duty as a Guildhall faculty member and administrator. “I’m very comfortable with him sitting at my desk while I’m gone,” Capt. Cole says. “I’ll miss the Guildhall immensely – the staff and faculty, and the great students we have – and I can’t wait to get back.”

September 11, 2014|For the Record, News|

Campus celebrates Veterans Day 2013

SMU Veterans pinVeterans Day 2013 is Monday, Nov. 11, and SMU will honor its military vets in many ways this week:

• SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility will present SMU Veteran lapel pins to all University vets – students, faculty and staff – to recognize their service and identify their membership with the University’s veteran community. The Maguire Center will present pins 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11 at the Main Quad flagpole. In addition, Ruthie’s Rolling Café will offer free sandwiches to vets wearing their pins.

• The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will offer free admission to all veterans, retirees, active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and Coast Guard service members on Veterans Day. The Museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Veterans Day 2013; the offer is good for all tickets sold at the admissions desk that day, but not applicable to tickets sold online. Any service member participating in the free admission offer will be asked to show a form of identification upon purchasing their tickets. For more information, e-mail bush43media@nara.gov.

• The Office of the Provost hosts a luncheon honoring veterans 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center. The keynote speaker is U.S. Army Col. Miguel Howe (Ret.), director of the Military Service Initiative in the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Special presentations will also be made by:

  • SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Ludden
  • University Chief Information Officer Joe Gargiulo (U.S. Navy 1975-77, U.S. Navy Reserve 1978-80)
  • SMU Chief of Police Richard Shafer (U.S. Air Force 1973-94)
  • SMU Color Guard
  • Associate Vice President for Campus Services Julie Wiksten ’78, ’92
  • Brandon Montgomery ’14, president, U.S. Military Veterans of SMU (U.S. Marine Corps 2005-10)
  • Blake Helm ’14 (M.B.A.), vice president, Cox Veterans in Business (U.S. Army, 2005-12)

• In addition, the Office of the Provost and SMU Military Veterans are collecting holiday toys and care package items during the luncheon. Please bring a new unwrapped toy for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys For Tots program and personal items for active-duty U.S. military service members. Visit the United Service Organizations (USO) website for a list of suggested care package items.

• SMU’s Central University Libraries invite you to view one of DeGolyer Library’s finest collections in digitized form: the Melvin C. Shaffer World War II Photographs. Shaffer’s evocative images depict the indigenous populations and local conditions of North Africa, Italy, Southern France, and Germany from 1943 to 1945. Included are 19 images of Mount Vesuvius that depict the volcano before, during and after its eruption in 1944.

November 8, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

Veterans Day: Marine vet and daughter attend SMU together

Thomas and Amie Kronis

Thomas and Amie Kronis

When SMU senior Amie Kromis leaves her Political Communication seminar in Dallas Hall, her father is waiting outside the door for her. U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Kromis isn’t just there to spend some time with his daughter – he is on his way to class himself.

Thomas transferred to SMU this fall as a junior combining credits from undergraduate courses he took while in the Marine Corps. A career Marine, Thomas served 21 years in numerous countries, including Japan, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Norway.

“We didn’t have the traditional father-daughter relationship when Amie was growing up,” Thomas says. He and Amie’s mother divorced early in Amie’s life, so Amie lived with her mother in Nashville while Thomas’ military duties took him all over the world.

“Whenever we wanted to see each other it took a lot of work and it took a lot of money,” he says.

Despite the physical distance, Thomas was a part of Amie’s life. “He always sent letters from countries he visited and thought of clever souvenirs,” Amie says. “He sent bottles of sand from all the countries in the Middle East.”

Amie began attending SMU in 2009, the same year Thomas retired from the Marine Corps and moved to Dallas.

“I still wasn’t able to spend much time with her, because she is just so involved,” Thomas says. But when he received the admission letter from SMU in 2012, he knew that would change. Thomas is one of 170 veterans attending SMU. He receives G.I. Bill benefits along with the SMU Opportunity Award and the Tuition Equalization Grant.

Amie is a resident assistant at Boaz Hall, an SMU ambassador and a moderator for the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, and recently received the All University John L. Freehafer Award for demonstrating an interest in student life, activities and government.

Thomas also maintains a packed schedule. The applied physiology and sport management major works full-time as head of personal training at Life Time Fitness in nearby Flower Mound and attends class on his two days off.

“I call him Mr. Superman,” Amie says. “Whenever I feel like I need to complain about schoolwork, I think of my dad and feel humbled. Everything that he has gone through, and he is still pursuing this degree.”

This fall, Amie took on another campus role – passing along to her father SMU insight about professors and courses.

“It was so exciting to share my academic experience with him,” Amie says. “I suggested he enroll in a class with one of my favorite professors, Rita Kirk.”

Thomas and Amie walk together on Tuesdays and Thursdays across the main quad until they part ways toward their respective classes.

“Just the ability to go have dinner together on a weekday…it’s a big deal,” Thomas says. “I don’t take this relationship for granted.”

Written by Philip Haigh

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November 9, 2012|News|
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