Maj. Gen. Trent Kelly (second from left) places the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal on Chancellor Glenn Boyce in the chancellor’s box during the Nov. 18 Ole Miss-Louisiana Monroe football game. The medal is the highest award the Mississippi National Guard can present to a civilian. (Submitted photo / Ole Miss)
The medal honors the university’s commitment to supporting veterans, military-connected students.
Maj. Gen. Trent Kelly recently presented University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce with the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, the highest honor the Mississippi National Guard can bestow on a civilian.
Kelly presented Boyce with the award on Nov. 18 during an Ole Miss football game on behalf of Mississippi National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Janson Boyles. Kelly also serves as Mississippi’s representative for the first congressional district.
“What I hope is that this award shows the public that the University of Mississippi cares deeply about our veterans and the challenges they face,” Boyce said. “We are committed to these students, and we want to do whatever we can to help them launch their careers.
“At the end of the day, we’ll never be able to give back what they gave to us.”
The award honors those who have shown commitment and support to the National Guard. The university has been named a gold-level institution by the Military Friendly Advisory Council and was recently promoted to being No. 1 in the SEC and No. 5 nationally in the annual “Best for Vets” ranking from Military Times.
“While serving as Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, Dr. Boyce directly influenced personnel readiness by investing in the human capital of our service members and enabling higher education opportunities,” the award notification reads. “Dr. Boyce demonstrated utmost patriotism by serving those who serve through a free tuition program and creating a nationally ranked military-friendly institution of higher learning.”
Boyce has provided “top-down support” for veterans and military connected students since being appointed chancellor in 2019, said Andrew Newby, the university’s head of veteran and military services.
“The winds really shifted when Chancellor Glenn Boyce came on board,” Newby said. “We have been able to do amazing things under his leadership because we have his support.”
Since 2019, the Office of Veteran and Military Services has moved to its own “one-stop-shop” at the George Street House. This provides student veterans and military-connected students with a place to congregate, access GI Bill benefits, study and receive guidance for applying for scholarships and military transfer credits.
In 2023, the office also added an in-house counselor who can meet students where they are, Newby said.
“I’m very proud of that facility, because it gets so much use,” Boyce said. “We have everything I think we can to help these students be successful in higher education. It’s not enough to say we’re accessible. We have to be ready to help them get whatever they need to succeed.”
The university in 2021 instituted the Veteran Treatment Team, which allows student veterans to seek health care on campus instead of having to drive hours to the nearest VA clinic, Newby said. The program saves military-connected students many hours and money for gas and makes health care more accessible.
Boyce also improved scholarship support for Mississippi National Guard students to help eliminate tuition costs through the Mississippi National Guard Tuition Program, Newby said.
“When he decided to zero out the balances of all National Guard students in the state, that was a testament to what we can do with top-down leadership and support,” Newby said.
Part of what makes the Ole Miss student veteran experience special is that it is led by other veterans, Boyce said. Every staff member working in the George Street House is a veteran or military-connected person.
“The way our military personnel come back and serve their fellow soldiers is so special,” Boyce said. “Only our soldiers can have a deep appreciation of what a soldier goes through.
“In my 40 years of education, this is the most significant award I have been honored to receive, but it’s not really for me. It’s for the people like Andrew Newby and his staff who have made Ole Miss a welcoming place for our veterans.”