The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Jo McCulty

Aiming high for veterans

Meet retired Air Force Col. Kevin Cullen, the university’s new director of Military and Veterans Services.

For the 2,300 people at Ohio State with close ties to the military — including veterans, active duty, reserve, guard, ROTC cadets and midshipmen, and military family members — Military and Veterans Services is a source of familiarity, understanding and allyship. Retired Air Force Col. Kevin Cullen, who became assistant vice provost and director of Military and Veterans Services effective Sept. 1, reveres that relationship and relishes the opportunity to deepen and strengthen it. Cullen brings military and higher education bona fides to the job — including 28 years in the Air Force as well as service on faculty and staff at Ohio State.

Tell us some of your short- and long-term goals for Military and Veterans Services.

I come into the office at a time when it’s firing on all cylinders. So one of my goals is to not fix what isn’t broken. We’re already really good in a number of areas. But at the same time, anytime there’s a new leader, they bring in a fresh set of eyes, ideas, experiences and maybe most importantly, a fresh set of passions. I’d like my legacy to be someone who just tirelessly and relentlessly did what was right for each and every student. And, quite honestly, I get no greater satisfaction than watching students not just succeed in higher education, but succeed in life.

What’s so special about the relationship between Ohio State and the military?

It is special, I’ll tell you. Really, the flight history of our nation started in Ohio, with the Wright brothers. You can see what the flying industry is today because of them. Ohio loves the United States military. Ohio State is a huge supporter of the United States military. What I like to say is I am really incredibly lucky because I was in one organization of the United States military, which has hundreds of years of tradition and success, and I joined another organization, The Ohio State University, which is really unmatched in tradition, excellence and success.

What do the active members and veterans of the military bring to the Ohio State community?

A whole lot of diversity. The traditional veteran or military student, setting aside the ROTC elements for a second, has already been out and about in the world, has already had a few assignments, might be married, might have children, might have already had a first career or even second career and are returning to higher education to maybe launch a third or fourth career. So, the United States military is as diverse, really, as any large organization in the country. And when you bring that diversity and experience, I think it does nothing but help Ohio State in terms of making us better as an institution.

About the author

About the author

Abhigyaan Bararia ’20

Abhigyaan Bararia ’20 (he/him/his) graduated from Ohio State in the spring of 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in security and intelligence. He most enjoys writing about people and their lives. He considers himself a master at catching small foods like M&Ms in his mouth and is always on the lookout for the next pair of sneakers to add to his collection.