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Sean Watkins

Breastfeeding Month – Alumni Spotlight on Natashia Conner

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Natashia Conner

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

Featured this month: Natashia Conner Education: 2014 Union Graduate Maternal and Child Health – Human Lactation major

Profession: UI&U Professor Natashia Conner, MS, CHES, IBCLC in the Maternal and Child Health – Human Lactation major

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

A. Obtaining my B.S. in Maternal Child Health was world-changing for me. I started this program after having two traumatic births and what I would consider a mildly successful breastfeeding experience. This program opened my eyes to the issues of infant mortality and health disparities that exist within the African American community. I have since dedicated my life’s work to reducing health inequities that contribute to these disparities. As a result, of completing this program and working in the field of lactation, I went on to successfully breastfeed my third child for four years!

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

A. I most admire the administrative staff of my alma mater. Being a local resident (of Cincinnati), I remember spending many days working on countless assignments in the library/computer lab with my newborn baby. The staff was super encouraging and supportive. The support I received from the staff played a tremendous role in my ability to meet my academic goals.

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

A. I encourage all of the students to utilize the services offered. The writing center is there to assist you. I remember complaining about how difficult the professors seemed to be when it came to perfecting my writing. Now that I am on the other side, I see that it was all for my benefit. Although college is hard at times, and life situations arise, things do get better and it will be well worth the struggle in the end.

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

A. My greatest accomplishment has been helping over 3,000 women, infants, and families through their breastfeeding journey. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a mom/dad achieve their goals.

Discover a rewarding career supporting breastfeeding with the Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation major or the Health & Wellness: Lactation Studies major.

Breastfeeding Month – Student Spotlights on Jeanna Spears and Amanda Marion

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Union Institute & University is proud to join with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) in the celebration of National Breastfeeding Month.

Union is joining the observance with spotlights on the students, alumni, staff and faculty in the Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation and the Master of Arts in Health & Wellness: Lactation Studies. Read about two of our students and their plans for their degree in the Q & A below.

Jeanna Spears:

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Once I have completed my degree I would like to pursue a childbirth educator certification and continue to teach and help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I needed a few courses to take the IBCLC exam. I figured since I was already enrolled I should complete my Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I am a full-time mom, I work 40 hours a week (at least) at the local hospital and I work on the Appalachian Breastfeeding Network’s after hours breastfeeding helpline twice a week so the fact that Union offered courses online made getting back into school fit right into my schedule.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Be patient with yourself…

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. My grandfather and my dad because of their selflessness… as for my lactation life, I would have to say Stephanie Carroll. She started as my WIC breastfeeding peer and is now one of my closest friends. She helped me when I had questions and encouraged me to get into the field itself. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the encouragement from all three of them.


Amanda Marion:

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Upon completion of my degree, I plan to be the educator I have always dreamt of in the field of lactation and maternal-child health. I want to be able to educate moms who are having difficulties or just need a boost in confidence using evidence-based research. I want to be able to answer anything that they have been misinformed about, or not informed at all about breastfeeding. I want to be able to ease their minds and educate them properly in the way I never was when I was breastfeeding.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I was sitting at my desk one day and decided that I wanted to obtain a bachelor’s degree in maternal-child health since my background experience was in maternal-child health due to my former position. When I was at the CLC course, I remember UIU being mentioned. When I ‘googled’ college that offered a Bachelor’s in Maternal-Child Health, UIU was the first that popped up – and better yet, it was in human lactation!

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I chose UIU because the pathway is going to enable me to obtain the rest of my pre-requisites to sit for the IBCLC exam sooner, rather than later. Taking into consideration all the credits I would receive from another degree I have, my military education/experience, and the generous scholarships I was offered compared to other colleges, UIU was the best fit.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Honestly, it would be nothing. I was in nursing school in my 20’s. Had I continued in nursing school, rather that joining the military, I probably wouldn’t have come as far as I have now with my different degrees, experiences, and finally figuring out that maternal-child health and lactation education is what I am called to do.

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. Two coworkers were influential in my pursuing my degree. I worked with a Certified Practitioner in Lactation and Breastfeeding Care (IBCLC) and a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) as well as an Army Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) who both encouraged me and supported me in my goals to obtain my bachelor’s at UIU. The other person is my daughter. Nothing makes me more proud than to see her watch me with a smile on her face while I struggle through online classes while balancing my active-duty military job and taking care of her. It makes me believe that I am her great role model and I hope that one day she can say that I was her most influential person.

Jeanna Spears

Amanda Marion

Florida Academic Center Celebrates Graduates

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Tears of joy flowed at the Union Institute & University Florida Academic Center Commencement as over 70 adults realized the dream of earning their college degrees on July 22.

Degrees are life changing. “Graduation day validates why Union exists. We have made an impact on their lives with a degree they never thought they would have,” said Dr. Jay Keehn, executive director at the Florida Academic Center. “When life got in the way, we were here to help them finish. Union is a special place. Students are not numbers; we know each graduate’s story and struggles.”

New Master of Science in Organizational Leadership graduate and 2016 Criminal Justice Management alumna Markevya Johnson agrees. “The mission of Union was developed with me in mind. Giving working adults the opportunity to advance their education while offering a flexible schedule was exactly what I needed. I am a wife, mother of two children (ages 11 and 8), and a fulltime employee. The flexibility of Union’s online courses was a perfect fit for my busy schedule.”

Graduate Toni Soldano explains. “My MSOL degree was so important to me! The degree has expanded my skillset at work and will open opportunities for me in my career. It has given me confidence and enthusiasm for what is to come.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Kim Byas, UI&U doctoral alumnus and Board of Trustees member, challenged the new alumni to make a personal and professional mission statement that reflects their values. He encouraged them to consider the following points:

  • Why am I here on earth?
  • What is my unique or distinctive characteristic?
  • In life and in my work, what is most important to me?
  • What philosophical issues, personal values, and priorities are important to my career?
  • Outside of my organization, for whom am I working?

Dr. Byas concluded by reminding the graduates that they are now part of the Union Institute & University legacy, a university founded and committed to advancing social justice, and urged them to remember their commitment to social justice.

Union hosts academic center graduations throughout the year. The California Academic Center graduation is Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278. For more details click here. National Commencement is Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Hilton Netherland Plaza, 35 West Fifth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more details click here.

Jay Keehn

Kim Byas

Markevya Johnson

Toni Soldano

Union Institute & University educates highly motivated adults who seek academic programs to engage, enlighten, and empower them to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility. Explore Union today.

Alumni Spotlight – Bob McGill

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

This alumni spotlight is on Bob McGill, a 1975 Union Ph.D. graduate. His passion to pass down traditional Ozark music led him and his wife Karlene to organize the nonprofit Ozark Mountain Music. He is a retired Youth Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension Service and is founder and director of a not-for-profit corporation, Ozark Adventures.

His commitment to share his love of music with youth has even led him to the White House. Learn more in the Q & A below.

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

A. Union’s mission to social justice is something I appreciate. The stated mission and goals of the university to contribute to a pluralistic, just, and equitable society and helping remove the fear of those working to do so has always helped me personally and professionally.

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

A. Union allowed me to design my own course of study and that process allowed me to immerse myself in adventures that I deemed relevant at the time. Doing so, with the help and support of the faculty gave me the knowledge and confidence to continue in my field.

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

A. Get to know yourself and follow you own passions and dreams. Don’t get caught up in following in the footsteps of others. Be wise. Plan and enjoy your own adventures.

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

A. My greatest accomplishment is whatever I’m working on at the time. Right now I’m helping young people learn to play traditional Ozark fiddle tunes. Music, we have discovered (as have so many others) cuts across both generations and cultures and develops, simultaneously, both self-discipline and self-expression. Music helps create character in young people. My proudest moments were hearing the members of our fiddle troupe play perform “Let There Be Peace” in the East Room of the White House and actually witnessing White House visitors cry at the conclusion of the song. A close second as a memorable experience was assisting three of our experienced young fiddlers in conducting a week-long fiddle camp high in the back mountains of Haiti in 2017.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. In just a few months we’ll be totally retired and I’ll get to tend to our small pecan orchard on our small and rustic Ozark farm,

Experience transformation as a Union Ph.D. student. Start today.

Union Institute & University Celebrates National Breastfeeding Month

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Union Institute & University is celebrating breastfeeding throughout August in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week (WABA), August 1-7, 2018 and National Breastfeeding Month sponsored by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC).

Breastfeeding is a career path for students through the UI&U Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation and the Master of Arts in Health & Wellness: Lactation Studies Distance Degree Programs. Both programs have earned initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Union offers one of the few human lactation degree programs in the country, providing students with a flexible, 100% online experience. A career in lactation is rewarding, with Payscale estimating salaries ranging from $29,537 to $85,546 annually.

“Our goal at Union is to provide our students with the skills and training necessary to build a solid foundation in order to make a difference in the lives of families around the globe as providers in the human lactation field,” said Dr. Lisa H. Akers, Program Chair. “New this year is a partnership that complements the UI&U lactation career. In May, we joined with OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank to open a milk drop at the Cincinnati Academic Center. The drop provides a convenient location for lactating women to donate their milk. Union personnel processes the donor’s milk and mails it to OhioHealth to be processed where it helps to save the lives of infants who are born premature, ill, or have life threatening conditions.”

Union’s mission is to transform lives and communities. A lactation career can transform your life and community. Click here to learn more.

Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Anu Mitra

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Dr. Anu Mitra

Each month, faculty and staff are recognized for their enormous contribution to Union. In recognition of the recently completed Summer 2018 Ph.D. Residency, this month’s faculty spotlight is on Dr. Anu Mitra who teaches in the Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies Program and chairs the Admissions Committee.

She presents each new student with a synopsis detailing why Union is a special academic home.  Learn more about this piece and Dr. Mitra in the Q & A below.

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

A. I am now in my 31st year at Union and I am still excited about teaching. I believe in adult higher education more than ever because the working adult takes time to process and understand and reflect on ideas that are important in shaping self and society. This long runway—beginning in higher education, taking a break for life reasons, and then returning to it—provides most adult students with a grounding in wisdom that one would not naturally come upon. Seeing minds begin to work along paths that are meaningful to one’s self is gratifying beyond measure!

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

A. Union’s reach to adult students who want to seek learning as a lifelong journey drew me to the university. I have a “This, I Believe” piece that I share with new applicants arriving at Union. What I have come to know about Union are the following:

Union Institute students learn by taking part in collaborative inquiry—a process where each one of us learns from the wisdom and experience base of the other. This is not to say that we put aside the canon or critical works of literature in specific fields. This is to say that at Union, the learning process is democratized. Faculty members and students segue into each other’s learning landscapes to deepen one’s understanding of one’s field, of other areas of knowledge, or of the world in general.

Social justice principles and values guide everything that we do at Union —every degree program has at its core the basis of a social justice awareness, and this awakening acts as a guide to all that we believe.

At Union, we believe that it is not enough, perhaps, to know—it is vitally important to act on what we know. For these reasons, we are called upon to enact what we have come to believe. Leadership practices and principles are critical to how we shape our responses to the world around us and each student is encouraged to make active, meaningful contributions to the world even as they navigate the program.

This, I believe, is how Union tends toward a more perfect union of practical action and theoretical ideas.

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

A. I would be an Egyptologist or a paleontologist doing field research and soaking in different cultures of the world.

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. That I am a lot funnier than I give off and act.

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I love a well-written book and a story line that hooks me in. The Russian writers—Chekov, Dosteovsky, Tolstoy—are all-time favorites as are Latin American writers such as Mario Varga Lhosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Octavio Paz, and Isabelle Allende. I enjoy the recent wave of writers from the Indian diaspora—Sunil Khilnani, Suketu Mehta, Sri Lankan Anuk Arudpragasam. I seem to float through various diasporas of constructing story.

Recently, I completed A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and it was compelling to the core, examining what it means to be human. All of us need to discover through story what that means and how each one of our lives amounts to something important.

About Dr. Anu Mitra

Dr. Mitra holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, in New York. Her areas of expertise are visual culture, arts-based practices, art and leadership development. She has presented on several aspects of her work, most recently at the Art of Management and Organizations, American Management Association, International Leadership Association, among others.

Dr. Mitra is a strong believer in interdisciplinarity —believing that our world is too complex and dynamic to be understood through the lens of a single discipline. Her research and workshops linking art and social justice and art and leadership development have been offered at many forums, including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the University of Cincinnati Medical School, and to doctoral candidates at Union. She continues to be drawn to the idea that all problems are capable of being solved, but only if we are able to view multiple solutions through the lenses of different perspectives.

She has traveled to more than 50 countries and lived on three continents.  Frequenting museums, going to the movies, and reading fiction are her major obsessions.

A Ph.D. is within your grasp. Choose your program today. Click below.

Graduation Here We Come – Spotlight on Two Florida Graduates

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It will be a significant day for students Markevya Johnson and Debi Palmisano when they receive their diplomas at the 2018 Florida Academic Center Commencement on Sunday, July 22 at 11 a.m. at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. At that proud moment, they and our other graduates join the Union legacy to engage, enlighten, and empower.

Markevya is graduating with a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) and holds a Union B.S. in Criminal Justice Management. Debi is graduating with a B.S. in Early Childhood Studies. Read about their academic journey in the Q & A below.

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Markevya – I plan to use my degree as I seek further advancement into a leadership position within the Florida Department of Corrections. As a certified instructor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), I also plan to use my degree in pursuit of a secondary career of teaching adults on a college level in Criminal Justice Management.

Debi – My degree is a dream come true. I have wanted to complete a bachelor’s in early childhood education for many years. My degree is validation to continue the best practices in early childhood education. I own a preschool and this is our 14th year as a licensed and accredited school. Our goal is to focus on tomorrow’s leaders by educating children. I am also involved in supporting two orphanages in Haiti.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. Markevya – After I completed my Bachelor’s of Science with Union in 2016, I knew that I wanted more for myself; more knowledge, more opportunities, more clarity, more direction, and more advancement. Obtaining my Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership will equip me with more of the necessary tools to reach my goal.

Debi – It has always been my dream to complete a bachelor’s in early childhood education. The chance became available to apply for the TEACH scholarship in 2016. Union allowed me to complete my degree online at my own pace with convenience to my schedule.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Markevya – After researching various colleges and universities, I came across UI&U and it seemed as if the mission of Union was developed with me in mind. Giving working adults the opportunity to advance their education while offering a flexible schedule was exactly what I needed. I am a wife, mother of two children (ages 11 and 8), and a fulltime employee. The flexibility of Union’s online courses was a perfect fit for my busy schedule.

Debi – I had to have a university with online instruction and with instructors available by email and text. I had to have this flexibility and Union understood I am a working adult, wife, mother, and grandmother with many responsibilities.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Markevya – My advice to my younger self would be: seek to further your education sooner rather than later. Although obtaining a degree is possible at any stage of adulthood, it would be much easier if it were completed prior to being married with children. Thankfully, I have had a great support system throughout this journey (which included my husband, parents, and in-laws) which made the load a little lighter.

Debi – Opportunity doesn’t make appointments. You have to be ready for it. – Tim Fargo

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. Markevya – I have had several influences in life; however, my father has been the most influential. Since I was a child, both my mother and my father showed me the importance of hard work. My father told me at a young age that a good education was the key to success. I watched him go back to school as a middle-aged adult to further his education, while at the same time making time to spend with me, my siblings, and my mother. He juggled several hats such as husband, dad, grandfather, pastor, and employee, and not once did I ever hear him complain. I knew if “daddy” could do it, I could do it!

Debi – Besides family, I can think of several teachers along my educational path. They influenced my decisions and encouraged me to higher education by making scholarships available and advising me in career choices.

Markevya Johnson

Debi Palmisano

Today is the day to start your new career. Click below.

Summer 2018 Ph.D. Residency Is Transformative

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Ph.D. students experienced transformation through the exploration of ideas and practices at the Summer 2018 Ph.D. Residency, July 1 – 8.

The new president of Union Institute & University, Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, challenged the students to transform their lives and communities in her keynote address at the opening dinner. She asked the students to reflect on their legacies and asked, “What will your voices say?” She relayed The Eagle Story and encouraged them to stretch their wings and soar. Dr. Webb concluded by reminding students that they are Union strong, the hope of the world’s future, and part of “A More Perfect Union.”

New students to the Ph.D. program found inspiration in Dr. Webb’s speech.

Rev. Jordan Preston, one of the 24 new students from Cohort 25, found the week life altering. “The effect on me is life changing. I am taking the status quo ideas and breaking them down. I am allowing myself to dream big. The bond with my fellow students was unexpected and exhilarating. It was astonishing to meet students from around the country and one who even flew 16 hours from Dubai to join us. I found that we share a common bond to make change where we are and in our communities.”

Jocelyn Rainey, also a new student, finds Union’s global commitment motivational. “I know that respect for differences and diversity can solve problems. Union makes the world a classroom.”

The Union Institute & University national doctoral program incorporates interdisciplinary study that explores ideas and practices in leadership, public policy, social change, ethics, creativity, innovation, design thinking, and beyond. Union’s Graduate Certificates provide a distinguished addition to the Ph.D. focus. Each certificate includes 12 credits of courses integrated into the major in the areas of Creative Writing, Design Thinking, Educational Leadership, Executive Leadership, Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies and Social Change, and Women’s & Gender Studies.

Today is the day to transform your life and community in a Union Ph.D. program. Click below to get started.

Union Leaders – Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, the sixth president of Union Institute & University

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Dr. Karen Schuster Webb

Union Institute & University’s historical commitment to ethical and creative leadership and the insights gained over the past 50 years as a leader in adult learning is the inspiration for the monthly series, Union Leaders.

This month, we highlight our sixth president, Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, who took office July 1, 2018.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. Leadership is the ability of a person of integrity to articulate a vision that will enhance an organization and its ability to serve its stakeholders. A leader must then be able to build and inspire collaborative teams who will work to make that vision become a reality. Indeed, effective leadership involves listening and learning from others. Most importantly, leadership must be earned through the trust of those who are being served.

Q. What do you want to accomplish as president of Union?

A. As president, I am committed to providing leadership in coalescing the team effort to enhance Union’s growth and sustainability fostering, A Perfect Union; restore Union’s visibility as a socially responsible and innovative national university with the capacity to serve the world, and to honor our founding “university without walls” legacy by re-launching Union’s Institute as a consortium division of the university, which will focus on solutions to the social justice issues impacting our lives globally.

Q. You are the new chair of the American Council on Education’s Women’s Network Executive Council. Why is this work important?

A. The importance of the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Women’s Network Executive Council (WNEC) lies in its work as one of the largest international systems of women’s networks in higher education senior leadership in the world. Union is a member of ACE. In addition, there are ACE affiliate Women’s State Networks, which focus on this work in states where Union has national center locations.

WNEC’s primary goal is to advance and support women in higher education, and we founded the Moving the Needle initiative, which promotes the selection of women as 50 percent of the college and university presidents by 2030. This goal would begin to match the gender population of higher education students. Moreover, through our IDEALS programs (Identify, Develop, Encourage, Advance, Link, and Support), members of the council engage in the very important work of mentoring women who are seeking careers in higher education leadership; facilitating the sharing of best practices in higher education administration, and enabling network professional development.

Q. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

A. Away from work, I enjoy relaxing with family, reading mystery novels, and writing Haiku poetry.

Q. What is your favorite book?

A. The Bible has been the most meaningful book in my life. However, over the years I have been drawn to interpretations of Biblical teachings in the writings of the novelists: James Baldwin, J. California Cooper, Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison, and J. D. Vance.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. It would be difficult for me to cite only one; therefore, my top three inspiring leadership quotations are the following.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus.”

Another quotation is from Herman B Wells, the late iconic Chancellor of Indiana University, who said, “Make no small plans, they are unworthy of your ability and your opportunity.”

Playwright and poet, Edith Wharton, writes, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Q. What might surprise the Union family about you?

A. I have formal training in ballet and modern dance.

Union has many leadership degree programs designed to make you an effective leader. The Bachelor of Science major in Organizational Leadership is designed to open doors to an endless supply of careers. The professional seeking to climb the corporate ladder will benefit from the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. The Master of Arts major in Leadership, Public Policy & Social Issues enhances the understanding of conflict within public, private, and nonprofit institutions. The Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership degree prepares the student to be a leader within the healthcare career. New this year is the Leadership in Public Service (LPS) Certificate, a joint venture with the MLK Freedom Center in Oakland, California, that presents an opportunity for those interested or involved in mid-level public administration to become a “transformational leader,” or a leader who wants to make a difference. The Ph.D. major in Ethical & Creative Leadership (ECL) focuses on the vital areas of creativity, innovation, and ethical intelligence.
Today is the day to choose a leadership program. Click below.

Professor Combines Education and Arts to Impact Social Change

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Dr. Diane Richard-Allerdyce lives the life of a UI&U faculty scholar-practitioner. She is passionate about weaving education and the arts together for social change.

In 2001, she saw the need for a more welcoming school environment for Haitian and Caribbean students in south Florida where she lives. That vision led to the founding of Toussaint L’Ouverture High School for Arts & Social Justice with her business counterpart, Major Joseph M. Bernadel, US Army (Ret.).

The innovative secondary school for grades 9-12 in Palm Beach County provides students with the skills to be successful in college and work and provides a platform to create a world they believe is possible. Its mission is to use the arts as a vehicle for social justice and individual change. In addition, the school is a tuition-free, publicly funded institution open to all age-appropriate students, and represents diverse socio-economic groups and the demographics of the community.

In 2009, she and colleagues founded Teaching by Heart in Haiti (TBHH), a professional development series of workshops for school teachers and administrators in Haiti. The team works with school leaders to establish priorities and identify needs, strengths, weaknesses and areas for development. They then are able to create a customized plan and deliver trainings with strategies based on each school’s individual and collective goals.

TBHH has collaborated with many schools since its conception. It has led workshops and offered seminars on pedagogical methods for increasing interactivity, teaching critical thinking, and employing dialogic models of education in the Haitian cities of Les Cayes, Fermathe, Cap Haitian, Pignon, Bondeau, and Kabare. In addition to providing teacher training, in August 2017, the TBHH team helped open a new school for 100 students in grades 7-10, LifeSong MBO School, in Bercy. Plans for the eleventh and twelfth grades at the school are underway.

Dr. Allerdyce, Chair of the Humanities and Culture major in the Union Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies, sees her work in Haiti and in the public sphere of education in Florida serving at-risk students as an important part of her role as UI&U faculty scholar-practitioner.

She describes scholar-practitioner this way. “A scholar-practitioner is someone who brings to the academic world and beyond a perspective on social problems. Scholar-practitioners apply critical thinking to academic theories and issues and take that knowledge beyond the classroom, often working with the community in pursuit of social justice initiatives. Ph.D. students trust that they will learn to reexamine knowledge and become a committed agent for social change and work to solve the issues within our societies. Professors understand that they must guide the student to see the bigger goal of completing their dissertation and their professional career.”

Diane is the author of a scholarly book, Anaïs Nin and the Remaking of Self: Gender, Modernism, and Narrative Identity (University of Northern Illinois, 1998). She has published articles, essays, book reviews, and poems in local, national, and international journals. She has been a featured poet on the Unitarian Universalists Poets Cooperative web page. Her poetry chapbook, Whatever It Is I was Giving Up, won the 2007 Red Wheel Barrow Prize by Pudding House Publications. Dr. Allerdyce was trained as a poetry therapy facilitator by and is a past-president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT).

She received the NAPT Distinguished Service Award in 2007, the NAPT Outstanding Achievement Award in 2009, and the Jennifer Bosveld Poetry and Social Justice Award in 2015. She has extensive experience as a National Trainer for the Classroom of Difference Program of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and is a member of the Florida-based ReThinkHaiti Task Force on Educational Reform. Her book House of Aching Beauty: Selected Poetry and Prose on Haiti, Heartbreak & Healing was released in 2012 by EditionsPerleDesAntilles. Her current book project is a novel, Hurricane Dreams, set in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In addition to Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, gender studies, feminisms, and poetry, her research interests include international educational outreach efforts.

Toussaint L’Ouverture High School for Arts & Social Justice

Diane with Students

Diane Haiti Group Shot

Today is the day to study the human condition and explore creative ways to advance social justice and acknowledge differences in individuals and social groups through the Humanities and Culture major in the Union Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies. Click below to find out more.