James Lyons ’03, one of the first Syracuse University alumni killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, was inducted into the University’s National Veterans Resource Center’s Hall of Honor on Oct. 15. He was also recognized as the “Hometown Hero” during halftime…
Stories of Service: Mike Frasciello and Scott Taylor
In celebration of veterans, the University recognizes the experiences and stories of student, faculty and staff veterans. These stories are just some of the many from among the veteran and military-connected community members on campus whom the University is dedicated to supporting.
University College Dean Mike Frasciello Committed to Helping Veterans Succeed
As a high school senior, University College Dean Mike Frasciello’s guidance counselor warned him that he wasn’t cut out for college. Though he was an average high school student, he didn’t have a lot of discipline. His first semester as a college student at a small liberal arts school didn’t go as well as a result. He ended up leaving college with a 1.8 GPA after two semesters. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force a few months later. That would be the last time he would ever be a full-time “traditional” college student, but it was only the start of his college education.
Frasciello came from a family tradition of military service. His grandfather was one of four siblings that served in World War II. Six brothers-in-law, one sister-in-law and eight nephews have served or are currently serving, dating back to the Vietnam War. His wife, an Air Force chief master sergeant, is currently serving in the New York Air National Guard and will retire next March after 30 years of active, reserve and guard service. Frasciello says the decision to serve changed his trajectory and completely transformed him. “More than anything else I’ve done professionally, my service and training in the Air Force still informs my decision making,” says Frasciello.
Frasciello served on active duty for 10 years. He says he was fortunate to be assigned to squadrons that valued developing junior enlisted airmen into future leaders. “I was actively encouraged to take advantage of leadership development programs, pathways, and opportunities,” he says.
Frasciello worked as an airman during the day and took college courses at night and on weekends. His dedication allowed him to finish three degrees. Twenty years after leaving the Air Force, Frasciello completed a Ph.D. while working full-time. Today he serves as dean of University College, Syracuse University’s gateway for part-time students whose goal is to pursue a degree or earn a certificate or credential from any of the University’s schools and colleges. “So maybe college was for me,” he says.
In his position as dean, Frasciello is committed to helping veteran and military-connected students transform their own lives through education. “Syracuse University is the best place for veterans because we walk-the-talk,” he says. “Supporting veterans and military-connected students is in our DNA.”
Syracuse University is the only private top tier research (R1) university in the country that supports active duty, reserves and National Guardsmen by capping costs at the rate of tuition assistance. “What that means is an active duty soldier serving overseas can complete an online undergraduate degree with Syracuse University paying only what the Army’s current tuition assistance rate will support. The same is true for an Air National Guard member serving at one of the five air wings in the state—those airmen only pay what the state’s tuition assistance program will cover. Nothing more,” Frasciello says.
Story by Brandon Dyer
Director of Transfer and Veteran Admissions Scott Taylor Part of Network that Supports Student Veterans
Transitioning from military life back into civilian life can be extremely challenging for veterans. It can be even more difficult when veterans return from duty to continue their education at a higher education institution. This is where Scott Taylor steps in.
As the director of transfer and veteran admissions in the Office of Admissions, Taylor recruits, admits and enrolls student veterans into undergraduate programs at Syracuse University. Additionally, his office helps veterans make a plan for them to adjust to life in higher education and find the support they need to succeed at Syracuse University and beyond.
A veteran himself, Taylor served the country for 20 years as part of the United States Army. Over the course of his career Taylor worked in a variety of roles around the world. He served in Korea working on stateside assignments, was deployed to Afghanistan three times including once in October 2001, right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Taylor taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point for three years as an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences. He also worked as a senior counterterrorism analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency for three years before retiring from the military.
Taylor attended graduate school at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs from 2004 to 2006 before teaching at West Point. He graduated with an M.P.A. and an M.A. in international relations, but his route back to higher education wasn’t easy.
“I was deployed to Afghanistan when I submitted my application. I mailed in an old school paper application, and it got lost,” Taylor says. “I’m in Afghanistan nine months later and I haven’t heard from Maxwell, I’m getting ready to come back and go right away to school before I teach at West Point and nobody can find my application.”
Taylor’s wife was able to contact Maxwell, and Christine Omolino, a recruiter with the M.P.A. program, went out of her way to help the Taylors resubmit the application to make sure Scott could come home and continue his education. Within a month of his return from duty, Taylor was on campus working towards graduate degrees at Maxwell.
“Christine is the embodiment of all of the awesome things about Syracuse University, about how we really do try to take care of each other and take care of our students,” Taylor says. This is a message that he tries to relay to prospective students, that the faculty and staff at Syracuse University are dedicated to helping them succeed.
Since then, Syracuse University has been a special place for Taylor. “When you leave the military you worry about not fitting in somewhere, but when you come to Syracuse you know you’re gonna fit in because there’s so many services, so much that’s available to student veterans on campus, it was just a natural fit for me,” Taylor says.
After finishing his military career, Taylor came back to Syracuse University to work in admissions. Taylor has found his work in veteran admissions to be extremely rewarding, as he gets to directly contribute to improving student life for veterans on campus. “We’ve been involved in taking care of veterans for 100 years now, and I’m happy to be a part of it and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it,” he says.
Taylor is just one part of the extensive support network for student veterans and veterans in the community. From the National Veterans Resource Center at the Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello Building (NVRC) to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the University has shown its commitment to creating a welcoming and supportive environment for veterans. “Syracuse University really does put forward that something they believe in is taking care of veterans,” Taylor said. “It’s reflected every day but it’s extra special Veterans Day.”
This Veterans Day Syracuse University reaffirmed its dedication to veterans at the annual Veteran’s Day Ceremony, which featured guest speaker Syracuse University Football Coach Dino Babers. For Taylor, Veterans Day is a time to think about all the servicemembers who came before him and all of the mentors who helped him reach success throughout his military service.
Taylor is part of a team that helps student veterans achieve success and find their place within the Orange family, but it’s also up to the rest of the University community to make Syracuse University home for veterans.
“Take whatever you think you know about veterans and set it aside, give student veterans a chance,” Taylor says. “Take a few moments to get to know them as people beyond what you think you know about veterans and you’ll be surprised by how diverse our student veteran body is.”
Story by Noah Lowy ’21