BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week: Garza

    Eduardo Garza, Jr., director of Veteran Services at Concordia University Wisconsin
    Institution address: 12800 N. Lakeshore Dr.  Mequon, WI 53097
    Industry: Higher education

    What interested you in assuming leadership of CUW’s new Veterans Services Office?
    “The position of director of veteran services allows me the opportunity to take care of our veterans and their families. As a former Navy officer, the most important thing we can do in leadership is take care of people. As the director, I can personally be involved in providing the assistance they need or utilize the contacts I have to provide the resources for veterans or their families.”

    What is the primary mission of this office? How will you address the individual academic needs of military veterans?
    “The primary mission of this office will be to assist veterans in attaining their academic goals. Some veterans are not fully aware of how they transfer their military transcripts for credit, how to apply for educational benefits, how to transfer benefits to their family members, or get connected with the Veterans Affairs office in Milwaukee should they medical assistance. This office will be a resource to get connected with the right people.  Additionally, we believe this office will be a place where veterans can meet other veterans and rebuild the comradery they were once used to and make new friendships.”

    What will be your priorities as you get the Veterans Services Office up and running?
    “My first priority was to establish a veteran’s organization on campus. About six weeks ago, we received approval from the State of Wisconsin American Legion and with the help of State Department Commander Bob Shappell, we have established a new American Legion Post on campus. We will be known as the Concordia University Wisconsin American Legion Post 1881. (The number) 1881 is significant to Concordia University Wisconsin as it is the year the University was established. We currently have thirty-one members in our American Legion Post and the number is still growing. My second priority is to personally visit with as many veterans as possible to determine what some of their immediate needs are as they progress in their program of study, address those needs, and work as a team with the veterans and our administration to bring a solution. My third priority is to develop an outreach program in which our veterans are active in school and community activities. We hope to be involved in projects that support veterans, community projects like Camp Hometown Heroes, and with our fellow students on campus where our leadership can assist classmates.  

    “I have many priorities. However with little time before the school year concludes, we must get some things in place in order to be ready for the summer and the next school year.”

    What challenges do you anticipate in operating the office and ensuring its success?
    “The biggest challenge I foresee at the moment is the competition with other universities in the area. Everyone is working their hardest to serve veterans on campus. We have to make sure we can convey our message to as many veterans as possible and display what makes us unique. As a brand new office at Concordia University Wisconsin, we are competing against other Universities that have been doing this type of work a little longer. We are ready for the challenge, and I believe we will do very well.”

    Why does southeastern Wisconsin need an office catering to the academic needs of military veterans?
    “Concordia University Wisconsin is in a unique situation by which we have satellite campus across the state of Wisconsin. Our Adult Education Program is utilized by many students hoping to earn a degree at our University. In a research study done by the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Services, they identified nine counties that were very populated by veterans. Ironically, Concordia University Wisconsin has eight satellite campus in eight out of those nine counties. We are not only concerned with southeastern Wisconsin; we are focused across the state. With just under 200,000 veterans in those areas, we will be ready to assist any veteran and their family at all of our facilities.”

    What are your goals as head of this new office?
    “I have many goals for this office, but none are more important than our veterans graduating and helping them prepare for the next chapter in their career.”  

    Do you have a business mantra?
    “My business mantra is no different than what is stated in our university’s mission and statement: “Concordia University Wisconsin is a Lutheran higher education community committed to helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the church and the world.’

    “My values are those that I was taught by my parents and reiterated throughout my time in the Navy: Honor, courage and commitment.”

    From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
    “I look up to one of my former commanding officers, Ken Barrett, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Back in 2007 he selected me to work in his department which was the U.S. Navy Diversity Directorate. Little did I know that I was to become the first Hispanic Diversity Officer for the United States Navy, but that I would be the face representing the Navy in the Hispanic community across the country. Captain Barrett allowed me to use my leadership skills to help teach the Hispanic community about jobs in the STEM fields and how scholarships can help pay for college. He showed me the true meaning of leadership by allowing people to utilize their strengths and coaching up weakness. He was a phenomenal leader and one who knows how to get the most out of his team with diverse backgrounds. His leadership proved critical for the GM Motor Company as he now serves as their first diversity officer.”

    What was the best advice you ever received?
    “The best advice I ever received was from my father Ed Garza, Sr. He would always remind me to ‘do things right the first time so I wouldn’t have to waste time going back and fixing it or someone else will come fix it, therefore no one is going to need you.’”
    What do you like to do in your free time?
    “I enjoy spending time with family and friends and working with a nonprofit organization called Take A Vet Fishing. I serve as the vice president for marketing for this organization and we provide fishing event opportunities for veterans, especially those working through the challenges of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

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