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Ashley Finkes

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Spotlight on Dr. Rand Oliver

By | Faculty & Staff, Latest News, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Dr. Rand Oliver

National Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportune time to shine the spotlight on Dr. Rand Oliver, National Dean of UI&U. His grandmother’s family hailed from Spain and he is proud of his Hispanic heritage. Rand’s great grandfather, Charles Francisco, was a lawyer and judge in Wisconsin. In addition to his duties at UI&U, Rand serves as Vice President of the Dayton, Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Union serves a more than 25% undergraduate Hispanic adult learner population and is the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division.

Q. What excites you about being a part of higher education?

A. I am a lifelong learner. I inherited the fervor for adult higher education by watching my parents complete their educations. My father graduated from university in 1987 with his BBA. A year later I received my MBA from the same school. My father was career military and my siblings and I watched him study his correspondence courses at night at the kitchen table when he was home. He was always taking classes. My mother was the same way. She went to work in the cafeteria after my youngest sister started elementary school. She was the “cafeteria lady”. She took classes and worked her way up to manager of a school and ultimately to food service director for a school district in Texas. She also taught her colleagues through an area college program. I had excellent role models that believe in higher education.

Q. What attracted you to become part of the Union family?

A. Our students come to us with passion to make change. Union teaches truth. Union’s message to educate adults is one I respect. I am also excited to be part of Union president Dr. Karen Schuster Webb’s vision to create new opportunities for students, faculty, staff, the communities we serve, and to seek new opportunities to serve throughout the world.

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. I am truly an introvert, while being seen as enthusiastic and action oriented. I re-charge my batteries through my reading, art, family activities, and home projects.

Q. If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

A. I am in the best job. I get to be around incredible people doing meaningful work changing lives for the good. How awesome is that?

Q. What is your favorite quote?

A. Fredrick Douglas said he wasn’t free until he could read. Education frees. I am also an admirer of Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I am an avid reader, sometimes as many as five books in a week and couldn’t choose a favorite book. But I have an office full of good to great ones. Come by and borrow a book.

Explore the academic program that helps you move ahead in your career today!

A Special Hooding Ceremony

By | Alumni, Doctoral Degree, Latest News, News, Union Institute & University | No Comments

It’s not every day that your mother hoods you for graduation, but that is what Gustav A. Otto will experience at national commencement on October 6, 2018 when Gus graduates with a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Ethical & Creative Leadership. The Ph.D. candidate’s mother, Dr. Sharon E. Trekell, just happens to be a Union Ph.D. alumna.

Both were attracted to Union for its interdisciplinary program and commitment to social justice.

“Mom suggested that I look at Union because I was having little success in finding what I wanted in a graduate program,” said Gus, former professor of practice at National Defense University, Distinguished Chair for Defense Intelligence at Army University, and adjunct for the National Intelligence University. After retiring from the United States Air Force Reserves, in consultation with his wife, he knew it was time to pursue his Ph.D. “I was also impressed with the focus on social justice. I always say, I came to Union for the curriculum, but stayed for the culture of social justice.”

Gus’s mother, Dr. Trekell, a professor of psychology, and founder and director of Inner Well Institute, echoes that sentiment. “Gus and I share the quest to improve lives. I enjoyed the diversity and background of my committee. I also remember the deep and profound learning I experienced at Union.”
Sharon has been healing society for 50 years. Gus is just starting that path. “My journey is just beginning. I hope I can be a paradigm of healing through the understanding of diversity and equality,” said Gus. “I see my mom in that trail.”

Their advice to Union students is to follow their passion and don’t procrastinate. Get it done!

What will it be like for mother to watch her son graduate? “The thrill of a lifetime. I have always been incredibly proud of Gus as a son and a scholar. I don’t think I will be able to keep from crying.”

Gus says he will cry. “Commencement is a cry worthy event.”

Follow your passion towards lifelong learning!

2018 National Commencement Welcomes Dr. Cynthia Cherrey

By | Faculty & Staff, Latest News, News, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Union Institute & University National Commencement is Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza in downtown Cincinnati.

Graduating together is a son and mother, a married couple, a father hooding his son, and a mother hooding her son.

Union Ph.D. alumna Dr. Sharon E. Trekell will hood her son Gustav A. Otto and experience the joy of watching him follow her path with a Ph.D. “This is the thrill of a lifetime. I have always been incredibly proud of Gus as a son and a scholar. I don’t think I will be able to keep from crying.”

Married couple Antwan and Daniel McKenzie-Plez encouraged each other when the educational journey became stressful. “We found a strength and balance together that galvanized us forward,” said Daniel.

Dr. Cynthia Cherrey is the keynote. She is the president and CEO of the International Leadership Association (ILA), a global organization for people who practice, study and teach leadership. Her interests and research explore new ways to live, work, and lead in a knowledge-driven, interdependent world. Recently she participated in a podcast series for Voice America’s business channel on global leadership with Maureen Metcalf, host of Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations. A sought-after advisor, Cynthia serves on the editorial boards of Asian Women and the President’s Advisory Group at Carnegie Mellon University. She is a Fellow at the World Business Academy, a Royal Society of the Arts Fellow, a former senior fellow at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship.

Degrees will be bestowed in the following areas: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Doctor of Psychology with a major in Clinical Psychology.

Union is sought after by adults because of its adult delivery model: Specialized distance-learning programs that combine online and classroom coursework with high-touch faculty attention, designed for students regardless of where they live and work. Union also has a long history of serving diverse populations: Minorities (44 percent), women (55 percent), and an older, adult population (average age of 37) and interweaves social justice in its curriculum.

Find your new career path today!

Union Welcomes JoNataye Prather, Ph.D.

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JoNataye Prather

If there was ever an advocate for social work and students, it is JoNataye Prather, Ph.D. the new chair of the UI&U Social Work undergraduate program. “I am passionate about supporting students through education to transform their lives. I take into consideration their holistic and academic needs.”

The servant leader brings 15 years of experience in the social work and education fields as a college administrator, assistant professor, education coach and non-profit consultant. Students, educators and human service practitioners nationwide have benefited from her insightfulness, compassion and spirit of enthusiasm to transform their organization, professional and personal lives.

She is excited to put her stamp on UI&U’s fully online bachelor’s program with a major in Social Work. “My goal is to transform our students into social work practitioners by strengthening our curriculum and providing added value resources,” said Dr. Prather who wrote the forward for “The Best College Student Survival Guide Ever Written” and recently released the book, “Don’t Even Think About Getting Your Ph.D. Without Reading This Book First”.

Dr. Prather is truly enthusiastic about empowering students with her inspirational quotes that have attracted over 20,000 followers on her Instagram account.

She strives to emulate a quote from her mother, JoEthel Prather: “The ability to begin is useless without the willingness to endure.”

Dr. Prather earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and African-American Studies (1999), Master’s in Social Work (2001), and PhD (2010) from The Ohio State University.

Welcome to Union Dr. JoNataye Prather!

Start your career in social work today.

Fallen Officer Memorial Award 2018 Recipient Selected

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Latest News, News | No Comments

Sgt. Heather Forsythe

Sergeant Heather Forsythe is the 2018 Mark Dunakin Award for Extraordinary Achievement recipient presented by Union Institute & University to a new graduate of the Criminal Justice Management major.

“The award is humbling. Sgt. Dunakin and the other officers gave their lives to keep their community safe,” said Forsythe. “I am committed to working in our community and keeping it safe too.”

The Mark Dunakin Memorial Award honors the memory of Sergeant Dunakin, a UI&U student who tragically lost his life on March 21, 2009, at the age of 40, when he and three other Oakland police officers were killed in the line of duty. The award is presented to a new graduate of the UI&U Criminal Justice Management major who serves in law enforcement and who emulates Sergeant Dunakin’s commitment to community service, academic success, and enthusiasm for Union’s Criminal Justice Management major.

Sgt. Forsythe was chosen by the faculty as an example of someone who not only works hard and maintains high standards, but also is deeply committed to serving others in her community and beyond. She will receive the award at the California Commencement on August 19.

“Union is a perfect fit for me. I had to find a university with a real world curriculum that allowed me to work full time,” said Forsythe.

She is a 17-year law enforcement veteran and sergeant with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department where she is a specialist in the Criminal Intelligence Division and Terrorism Liaison Officer Coordinator for the San Bernardino County. She presents workshops on terrorism and co-hosts and coordinates the monthly Inland Empire Terrorism Early Warning, providing relevant training in counter terrorism, active shooter, and suspicious activity.

Her list of achievements include POST Certified Academy Instructor (AICC) and Field Training Officer (FTO), and an instructor for Basic Academy, teaching POST Learning Domain 43- Emergency Operations/ Law Enforcement Response to Terrorism. She also instructs for POST supervisory school, teaching Terrorism Liaison Officer for supervisors and at the Advanced Officer Training Division teaching Terrorism Awareness and Criminal Intelligence Investigations.

Sgt. Forsythe previously worked in developing the “Women’s Warriors” recruitment program that provides pre-academy mentorship to women who want to join law enforcement in the San Bernardino County. She was also a liaison for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in San Bernardino.

In her community, she has been a volunteer as a youth/explorer scout advisor for eight years, and worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) on the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) task force.

This past March, she planned and hosted a faith-based active shooter awareness/ preparedness seminar with the Department of Homeland Security. The conference had approximately 400 local faith-based leaders and members in attendance. She also has conducted numerous site security assessments at schools, churches and community buildings for the CDC/ Department of Public Health Strategic National Stockpile Points of Dispensing program. She is an administrator for CalCOP which is a critical infrastructure assessment data base.

The other recipients of the Union Institute & University Mark Dunakin Memorial Award for Extraordinary Achievement are:

  • 2011 – Isabel Resendez
  • 2013 – Frederick Henry Bobbitt Jr. and Tony Silva
  • 2015 – Ray Framstad
  • 2016 – Sergio Lepe
  • 2017 – Orrlando Mayes
Explore what the Criminal Justice Management program can do for your career today!

Alumni Spotlight – Gillian Foreman

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Gillian Foreman

Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Learn how our UI&U graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.

Featured this month: Gillian Foreman MA, IBCLC, CLC, ProDoula LD

Education: UI&U 2015 graduate UI&U Master of Arts in Health and Wellness with a specialization in Lactation Studies, BS School of Architecture Interior Design University of Texas at Arlington.

Profession: Gillian supports families preparing for birth and breastfeeding through classes and education on Childbirth Education, Birth Doula Services, Breastfeeding Support and Education, and Postpartum Group Support, at Modern Breastfeeding + Education. Her many credentials include Childbirth Educator, Certified Labor Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Babywearing Educator, trained Postpartum Doula, Hypnobirthing-trained Doula, Neonatal Resuscitation Certified as well as BLS CPR certified, and of course an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Q. What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A. My Master’s degree has meant a heightened level of professionalism when approaching providers unfamiliar to my field. Further, it has helped not only clients, but my own family gain a full understanding what I do, not to mention a personal “next level” feeling of knowledge. I also believe my degree has opened doors for me that would not have existed otherwise, as it was also an exercise in assimilating research and becoming a better writer!

I also want people reading this to know that investing financially and time wise in the Master’s program at Union wasn’t an easy decision, and it was one that took me two years to research, debate about, and finally start. I was almost done with Pathway 3 when I switched to Pathway 2 because I simply wanted more; more research, more guidance, more understanding of my lactation career. If I could give anyone reading this advice I would say this: start. Just start, contact me or Union if you have questions, but submit your application already! You won’t regret it, especially with some of the incredible changes coming!

Q. What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A. I love that Union answers to the needs of adult learners. Not only by being an online program, with multiple paths, but also the thesis decision, writing, and defense process.

Q. If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A. Invest time in yourself. Seriously, this is the type of program with professors who understand you have jobs, families, and will give you an understanding ear, even a little leeway at times when you need it. However, do not abuse that kindness! Invest time in your program, because it is also true that you directly get out of it what you put into it.

Q. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A. My greatest accomplishment to date has been due to difficulty, namely moving across the country in the midst of my master’s program, which then meant starting my business again from scratch in a new area, a new demographic of families that had different needs. I found that I learned much more about serving families in the process. I got to experience two cities worth of hospital standards and home care standards, which strengthened me as a provider.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. Away from work I’m highly protective of my family time, and I do love our beautiful fixer upper home. We enjoy hiking and biking around the Cincinnati area, working on home projects, and exploring this city that still feels new to me.

Learn more about a UI&U Master of Arts in Health and Wellness and specialization in the Lactation Studies by clicking the button below.

A Mother’s Day Note of Thanks

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Mother’s Day is a perfect day to say a special thank you to those who carry the hard-earned title of “mom” 365 days a year. The American holiday of celebrating Mother’s Day was enacted in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson who signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day a national holiday to honor mothers. (Source: Wikipedia)

Mother’s Day provides a chance to reflect on the contributions of women to Union and the impact women continue to have on the university’s growth.

The Women in Union (WIU) scholarship program is founded on the premise that the best way to lift children out of poverty is to educate their mothers. Research shows that only 16 percent of women who raise their children as single parents have earned a college degree and children in these homes are five times more likely to live below the poverty line. The WIU scholarship has opened the door for more than 40 women to earn college degrees and improve their standard of living.

Another program benefitting women is the Maternal Child Health in Human Lactation degree. Union offers a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation and a Master of Arts with a Major in Health &Wellness and a Focus on Human Lactation. Not only does Union offer one of the only human lactation degree programs in the country, it is the only university to offer approximately 90% of the coursework online. Careers are available in the medical profession, non-profit and government field.

The Graduate Certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies provides graduate-level coursework for those seeking a career in academia, non-profit, government, and corporate tracks. Is also provides a theoretical foundation for dissertations and further research.

Union boasts over *11,000 female graduates and a *54% female student population.

Mother’s Day offers the opportunity to reflect on the integral role women have played in Union Institute & University’s mission of engaging, enlightening, and empowering adult students to pursue a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

*Source – UI&U Women Graduates All Programs Academic Years 1970 – 2017 (N=11,040, Fall 2016 IPEDS Data: Student Characteristics – All Students)

Learn more about the mission behind Union Institute & University.

Union Institute & University Accreditation Reaffirmed

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The Higher Learning Commission voted on May 1, 2017 to continue the accreditation of Union Institute & University.

“I am pleased to report that the Higher Learning Commission has reaffirmed the accreditation of Union Institute & University which we have maintained since 1985. This is a testament to the dedication of our faculty and staff who continue to live the mission of the university,” said Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D., president, Union Institute & University.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the largest regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The HLC accredits degree-granting postsecondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes 19 states.

The accreditation process is stringent. The standard of quality by which the HLC determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation is based on five criteria, including mission, institutional effectiveness, teaching and assessment of student learning.

“HLC’s mission is to assure and advance the quality of higher learning,” said Dr. Sublett. “This is a vote of confidence in the academic integrity of Union Institute & University. UI&U’s reaffirmation of regional accreditation is a direct reflection of the university mission to educate highly motived adults who seek academic programs to engage, enlighten, and empower them to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service and social responsibility.”

Nelson E. Soto, Ph.D., Union’s vice president for Academic Affairs strongly believes that “earning a degree from an accredited institution is paramount to our student success and academic standards. Therefore, UI&U will continue to strive every day to ensure our students are gaining skills and knowledge necessary to improve their lives and make meaningful changes in their communities.”

Union was founded in 1964 and gained initial regional accreditation from HLC (then The North Central Association) in 1985. Currently, UI&U offers the B.S. degree in a variety of majors both online and from the academic centers in Cincinnati, Ohio; Hollywood, Florida; Los Angeles and Sacramento, California; and Brattleboro, Vermont. The B.S. program also offers on-site course delivery in certain majors. A B.A. major in Psychology is also offered as a fully online model available to students across the country. Master’s degree offerings include three fully online programs: the Master of Arts, the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and the Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership, as well as a low-residency Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (residencies held at the Ohio and Vermont centers). Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies offers majors in Educational Studies, Ethical & Creative Leadership, Public Policy & Social Change, and Humanities & Culture (with brief residencies in Cincinnati).

Learn more about Union and its many degree programs by clicking below!

Constitution Day 2016

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constitution image

We the people of Union Institute & University are celebrating Constitution Day 2016! September 17, 2016 will mark the 229th anniversary of our nation’s founding document. It was signed September 17, 1787 at the Philadelphia Convention by 39 delegates.

Here are some interesting facts about the US Constitution:

  • The Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures. It takes about 30 minutes to read.
  • The Constitution was drafted in fewer than 100 working days.
  • Each of the four parchment sheets of the Constitution measures 28 3/4 inches by 23 5/8 inches.
  • George Washington was chosen unanimously to preside over the Constitutional Convention.
  • Madison kept a journal during the Constitutional Convention. Congress appropriated $30,000 to buy it (and other papers) in 1837.
  • Those who favored ratifying the Constitution were called Federalists; those who opposed were Antifederalists.
  • Two of the 12 amendments submitted as the Bill of Rights were rejected.
  • There is no mention of education in the Constitution; education is reserved for the states.
  • These cities have been U.S. capitals: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton, New York, and finally Washington, DC.
  • The book that had the greatest influence on the Constitutional Convention was Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, which first appeared in 1748.
  • Montesquieu borrowed much of his doctrine from Englishman John Locke, with whose writings the delegates were also familiar.
  • The Chief Justice is mentioned in the Constitution, but the number of Justices is not specified.
  • For 61 years, from 1804 to 1865 (between the 12th and the 13th Amendments), no amendments were added to the Constitution.
  • Only one amendment to the Constitution has been repealed: the 18th (Prohibition).
  • How do you repeal an amendment? Add another amendment. The 18th Amendment remains in the Constitution, but with a notation that it has been repealed by the 21st.
  • Only 39 delegates signed the Constitution. Fourteen had already gone home. Three refused.
  • The Constitution does not give us our rights and liberties, but it does guarantee them.

Learn more about the US Constitution, read a transcript, and view images of the original document.

Ph.D. Student Launches Black Girl Project

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The Black Girl Project

Union Ph.D. student Aiesha Turman

Believing in yourself is essential to personal freedom. That is why Aiesha Turman, a Union Institute & University Ph.D. student with a major in Humanities & Culture, created The Black Girl Project, a documentary film featuring black girls telling their stories in their own words. Her goal is to transform individuals and communities through inter-and intra-generational dialogue.

“Too many black girls see themselves as the stereotypical images portrayed in the media. The media often portrays black women and girls as saintly which strip them of any other character attribute except that of martyr/mammy, or demonized and used as the fall gal to explain away all that is wrong with the black community and society-at-large. It is important to hear and see black girls speak their truths,” said Turman.

The Black Girl Project has evolved into a grassroots organization using various art platforms to continue the goal of personal freedom.

Her ground-breaking work recently earned her a fellowship from Culture Push, a New York City arts organization that strives to push the boundaries of conventional thinking. Turman is using her fellowship to engage New York City’s black women and girls to examine issues of sex/uality, gender, identity, community, and place-making. The project incorporates a range of artistic modalities including literature/poetry, performance, visual art, and digital media.

Dr. Anu M. Mitra, chair of Turman’s Union Institute & University Ph.D. program committee, explains how Turman’s work complements Union’s commitment to students to reflect their awareness of the social implications of their studies.

“Aiesha has masterfully synthesized and integrated arts-based learning with issues of equity and justice as it pertains to African American youth in communities in New York. Her Black Girls Project provides creative and equitable opportunities to youth so that they are competitive, aware, and giving individuals in a community that they intentionally create,” said Dr. Mitra. “Aiesha is a brilliant, aware, and highly creative individual whose purpose lies in creating access to all. She does this through narrative story-telling, mbongi circles, and other artistic practices that serve to show the inter-relationship among people, rather than highlighting their differences.”

With belief in herself and her art form, Turman continues her quest to provide a safe place for black women and girls to free themselves of stereotypical images.