UChicago community joins Tillman Foundation president at event honoring veterans

Eli Feret is one of hundreds of veterans across the country whose education is a legacy of Pat Tillman, the late NFL player and Army veteran.

On Veterans Day, the MBA student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business was among those who welcomed Tillman’s widow Marie to campus for an event to discuss military service, education and the life of Pat Tillman.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Tillman left his career as a professional football player for the Arizona Cardinals to join the U.S. Army. Tillman died in 2004 while serving in Afghanistan, and in his honor Marie Tillman along with family and friends formed the Pat Tillman Foundation. It expanded its mission in 2008 with a scholarship program.

“The Tillman scholarship program’s commitment to the military is surpassed only by its commitment to serving society,” said Feret, a first-year student at Booth who received a scholarship in 2016 that will be renewable for his second year.

The Pat Tillman Foundation has awarded $14 million in scholarships to some 460 veterans attending more than 100 institutions of higher education—including two students at Chicago Booth.

Tillman told the hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered at UChicago’s School of Social Service Administration that veterans have enormous assets they can bring to universities such as leadership skills, vast experiences, maturity and a commitment to service.

“The foundation is narrow in that we focus on education and broad in that we support many fields,” Tillman said. “But the emphasis is on making the world a better place.”

The foundation in 2013 moved from Tempe, Az. to Chicago, where it now holds several events, including the Leadership Summit and Pat’s Run. It’s interested in growing the number of applications and scholars from schools in the Chicago area. Applications for the 2017-18 academic year will open in February.

“The story of Pat’s life, and his decision to join the military after 9/11 and give the ultimate sacrifice is a powerful reminder, particularly at this moment in our country, that we have a shared responsibility to uphold and defend the ideals of our nation,” said Bridget Collier, dean of students and senior director for student engagement at the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, whose husband is an Iraq war veteran and helped organize the event.

The Veterans Day event was sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Veterans Outreach Committee, which Provost Daniel Diermeier praised for helping to make the University a place that welcomes veterans, “who add so much to our community.”

The University offers academic and financial resources for veterans. Since 2009 UChicago has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on an educational initiative for post-9/11 servicemen and women, called the Yellow Ribbon Education Enhancement Program. In April 2016 Eric Gleacher, MBA’67, made a $10 million gift to fund a scholarship program for U.S. veterans seeking a Chicago Booth MBA.