By Nicholas Gallo
Francisco Morales has taken over as the director of Veteran Services. On Sept. 25, Morales replaced Michael Leonard and started deliberations on new ideas for the program.
“Once I saw Frank’s qualities, I knew that he would fit comfortably in the position,” said Bernie Valento, vice president of enrollment. “He is passionate and dedicated to getting the mission done and, since starting the job, he has already created new ideas to add to the program.”
Morales said he is ready to take on the challenge as the new director. He spent 20 years in Afghanistan, earning a Silver and Bronze Medal in the Army and was a ROTC instructor. Morales retired from the military in 2010 and completed the university’s master’s program in school counseling and mental health.
“I couldn’t ask for a better person to fill this role,” Valento said. “By his character and his work, this program has more exciting things to come.”
Morales looks forward to this new opportunity.
“I am excited,” Morales said. “I have been taking care of soldiers for 20 years and now I have the opportunity to continue my passion by working with the veteran population here on campus.”
The SVA is a program created to provide support and guidance for veteran student success in postsecondary education. Morales wants to help veteran students with financial, physical and social needs.
Morales was surprised about being promoted to this job as he started working at the university in a different position.
“Fate is the reason I received this job as I was hired as Chief in University Custodial Services in April and our program was thriving,” said Morales. “I was hanging plaques and photos on the wall when I found out Leonard had given his two-week notice, and I was in the right place in the right time as the university needed someone to immediately fill this role.”
Morales wants to continue the momentum that Leonard has created by laying the foundation and getting the program up and running. Morales already has a list of goals that he wants to achieve.
“My goals are to continue filling our ranks and provide the services that facilitate student success and achievement,” said Morales.
In addition, Morales wants to continue to provide a safe place for the veterans as most of them are transitioning out of the military.
“I would want student veterans to maximize their VA (Veteran Assistance) benefits,” Morales said. “From medical compensation to having a counselor available right from our office, I want this program for our veterans to maximize their benefits.”
Being a former Bonnie, Morales has experience with the SBU community and knows the importance of the campus’ morals and values.
“I am very familiar with St. Bonaventure and its Franciscan values,” said Morales. “I am well-known and have created positive relationship with most of our campus community and these traits will help me be successful as the new director, but most importantly I am a Bonnie.”