Purdue community invited to Nov. 10 space dedication and renaming ceremony for the Dorothy Stratton Veteran and Military Success Center

Updated: Oct. 23, 2023

Pictured: Veterans Day celebration with members of armed services holding flags

When Morgan Gamble became director of Purdue’s Veterans Success Center in 2022, she noticed that some of the military-connected students served by the center would study outside the space. When she asked them why, the response was often the same.

“There are so many different definitions and interpretations of the word ‘veteran’ that some students were self-filtering out of support because they didn’t realize this space was for them,” Gamble says, adding that she remembers having a similar feeling as a military-connected Purdue student. “Our data show that we serve a much broader audience, so we started looking for ways to reiterate a message of inclusivity. We wanted to make clear that the space was meant for all military-connected students, including family members, regardless of whether they identify as a veteran.”

This is what led Gamble and her team to rename the center, a proposal approved in October by Purdue’s Board of Trustees. Gamble and her team are inviting the Purdue community to help celebrate the renaming and space dedication of the center, which will now be known as the Dorothy Stratton Veteran and Military Success Center (VMSC). The new name pays homage to Stratton’s legacy and leadership to Purdue and the nation.

The Renaming Ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, following a Veterans Day Program at 2 p.m. Both events will take place in the Great Hall of the Purdue Memorial Union and are free and open to the public, with light refreshments provided.

Several other events will take place the week leading up to Veterans Day; for a full list of VetFest events, visit the VMSC website.

Disabled attendees should contact Bryan Arbic at barbic@purdue.edu regarding any specific accommodation needs. The VMSC will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations in an effective and timely manner.

Pictured: Purdue VMSC staff gather outside of the purdue memorial union

Pictured: Veteran and Military Success Center staff gather for a team photo outside of the Purdue Memorial Union

More about Dorothy Stratton

Stratton became the first full-time dean of women at Purdue in 1933 and served in that role until 1942, when she was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Later in 1942, she was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard, where she founded the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II and became the inaugural director. Shortly thereafter, she was promoted to lieutenant commander and then to commander in January 1944 and to captain one month later.

Stratton also coined the nautical title SPAR, as the Women’s Reserve was commonly known. The acronym comes from the first letters of the Coast Guard’s famous fighting motto, “Semper paratus,” and its English translation, “Always ready.” Upon her retirement in 1946, Stratton was awarded the Legion of Merit medal for her contributions to women in the military.

Pictured: Veterans Day celebration with members of armed services holding flags

Pictured: Members of the United States military stand with the American Flag and the state flag of Indiana during a Veterans Day ceremony

In 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard dedicated a National Security Cutter in Stratton’s name. First Lady Michelle Obama remarked that Capt. Stratton “is a source of inspiration for countless women in uniform and for young women and girls who may one day serve in our nation's armed forces.”

Stratton died in 2006 at age 107.

According to Gamble, naming the center for a strong female military leader is another example of how the center is evolving to be more inclusive.

“When we have the chance to highlight the positive impact a woman has made, especially in the military, we ought to do so,” Gamble says. “The impact Stratton had on campus, in addition to within the Coast Guard, is truly incredible, especially considering the context for women when she was alive. The staff within our center are honored to be able to recognize her legacy in this manner.”

More information about Stratton and her accomplishments will be shared during the Renaming Ceremony, which follows Purdue’s Veterans Day program at 2 p.m. These events will conclude a week-long “VetFest” aimed to celebrate students with any kind of military connection.

“I want to make sure that all Purdue students with any military affiliation feel comfortable connecting with us in a meaningful way and that we create a space that is truly reflective of the diversity we see in the military,” Gamble adds.

The VMSC provides holistic programming and services for Purdue’s military-connected students who are veterans, current service members or family members (the center’s largest population served).

Source: Morgan Gamble, director of the Veteran and Military Success Center, torre130@purdue.edu

headshot of communications director Andrea Mattingly. Andrea is wearing a green shirt and has dark brown hair, looking at the camera

Andrea Mattingly

Director of Communications for Student Success Programs, andrea@purdue.edu

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