Sullivan University System: Creating a Culture for Success


By Debbie Gregory.

The Sullivan University System was established in 1962 by A.O. Sullivan and his son, A.R. Sullivan, as a one year business college. The Sullivan family still heads the school, in what is now the largest career college in the commonwealth of Kentucky. The school educates approximately 7,000 students, with almost 800 of these students from the military community.

Sullivan has six campuses, as well as online programs, which provide a broad array of vocational certificates, and degree programs ranging from Associates to PhDs. Sullivan University is one of only two schools in Kentucky that offer a Doctor of Pharmacy program. The school also offers a high profile culinary program as part of its National Center for Hospitality Studies. All of Sullivan’s graduates have lifetime access to their career resources network,  providing them  assistance with résumé writing, interviewing,  and employment leads. This ideology has made Sullivan a career starting point for many non-traditional students, including military Veterans.

Sullivan University System has been actively servicing the military community since 1982, when the Army leadership at Ft. Knox asked the faculty at Sullivan to train its cooks. Their dedication to serving those who have served continues through today, and is as substantial as ever.

Sullivan’s dedication to its Veteran students extends beyond lip service and special rates. Sullivan has a nine member board of Military and Veteran advisors, headed by Gen. Jim Shane, US Army (Retired).  Shane and the board advise the executive branch of the university on all matters pertaining to their military and Veteran students.

“Developing culture starts at the top. Chancellor Sullivan is dedicated to making Sullivan University a quality university that is intent on serving its military community,” Shane said. “All of the leadership here gets it. They listen to what is important, and then they act accordingly.”

General Shane explained how Veteran students come from the highly structured culture of the military, into the more independent culture of university life. Shane said that Sullivan University’s goal is to help its Veteran students with their transition to the university culture, aiding them in getting good grades, graduating, and helping them establish themselves in a successful career. Being integrated with the Army community at Ft. Knox, Sullivan prides itself on its service to the military, avoiding  a cookie-cutter education for Veteran students. “When it comes to education, one size does NOT fit all,” Shane said.

This Yellow Ribbon School has a set goal of finding ways for military students to receive a quality education with no out of pocket expenses. Sullivan offers tuition assistance in addition to a special discount, up to 44%, off the price of admission, based on individual needs. The school also offers academic, career and emotional counseling for Vets.

Sullivan deliberately does not provide its Veteran students with a Veterans-only lounge. Instead, the school provides an atmosphere intent on including its Veterans in all locations on their campuses, groups and functions. However, Sullivan does provide spaces that are dedicated to Veterans. On Veterans Day, 2010, at the main campus in Louisville, Chancellor Dr. A.R. Sullivan dedicated the school’s Veterans Plaza and Medal of Honor Memorial as a place of reflection and relaxation for all students.

Sullivan is committed to providing its students from the military community with a renowned education and a solid foundation on which to build their careers. invites prospective students to include Sullivan on their list of potential schools.