National Louis University students who took classes from Associate Professor Stephen K. Curda, Ph.D., might not have known from his welcoming demeanor that he has held a very distinguished career in the U.S. Army, or that he rose to the rank of Brigadier General before retiring recently.
Instead, students knew the tenured associate professor as a caring instructor devoted to his students, and also as the leader of National Louis University’s veterans program through his position as Special Assistant to the President for Veterans Education.
National Louis will have to share Curda’s talents with the rest of Illinois, however, as of June 5. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed him Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Curda, who returned to NLU last year after serving as commander of 3,600 Army personnel throughout the Pacific from Alaska and Hawaii to Japan and Korea, has experience in leading complex operations. His next task will be to resolve a tragic situation at the IDVA veterans home in Quincy, IL, where waterborne illness has killed 13 of the home’s elderly veterans since 2015. The state spent millions of dollars updating the home’s century-old pipes, but those improvements did not eradicate the disease.
Last week, the Illinois General Assembly passed a budget that included $53 million to begin construction on a new veterans’ home, purchase another veterans’ home in Sycamore and upgrade the water filtration system.
“I applaud the General Assembly for working with us to make sure our veterans have the best care possible,” Curda said in a press release from the governor’s office. “Our new facility will feature cutting-edge technology to ensure we can meet the needs of our veterans of today – those who have served to protect us in the War on Terror.”
Curda has a track record of moving seamlessly between his roles in the military, where he has been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the academic world.
He earned his Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and Educational Psychology from the University of Oklahoma in 1997 and has held several academic roles. At National Louis University, he has led the veterans’ program’s focus on holistically serving military-connected students with a wrap-around model of support. Under his leadership, the university has earned the military-friendly designation multiple times.
National Louis University congratulates Dr. Curda on his appointment to this distinguished position serving Illinois’ veterans.