The University of Northern Iowa is now in the top 20% of veteran-friendly colleges, after its ranking by the comprehensive review service Military Friendly was increased from bronze to silver.

In addition to the accolade, Director for Military and Veteran Student Services Chiquita Loveless was recently named as the Military Hero for MercyOne’s 2021 Heroes Among Us, an annual initiative that honors community leaders, for her commitment in support of improving conditions for veterans on campus and in the community.

“We continually strive to make UNI a welcoming place for everyone - including our military veterans,” said President Mark A. Nook. “Chiquita has done terrific work reaching out to this community of people who have served our country and helped them feel at home here.” 

UNI exceeded the standard for all six ranking criteria from Military Friendly, including academic policies and compliance; admissions and orientation; culture and commitment; financial aid and assistance; graduation and career; and military student support and retention.

Military Friendly noted that UNI provides a welcoming, student-centered campus environment where “student veterans are included in the University's definition of diversity and are valued and respected as contributors to the fabric of campus life inside and outside of the classroom.” It also highlighted university policy recognizing service and emotional support animals.

Loveless took the questionnaire used by Military Friendly to rank schools and used it to guide her work, implementing programs the organization looks for in top-ranked schools. She collaborated with offices across campus to launch new initiatives, like new online programs that help make classes more accessible to military students on deployment.

As director of military and veteran student services, Loveless is a main point of contact for military and veteran students at UNI. She helps connect students to resources to help them transition from military life to student life, and to help with other unique concerns these students face, and at times just provides a listening ear. This often involves her taking extra time to talk one-on-one with students, or sharing her experience working as a Chief Warrant Officer in the Navy.

“To whom much is given, much is required and I don't take that lightly,” said Loveless in response to these accolades. “Everywhere we go, we leave a legacy. It is always best to leave a  place better than when you got there.”

For more information on UNI’s Military and Veteran Student Services, visit