Three Board of Trustee Members Reelected

By February 13, 2015Alumni

Union Institute & University, a private, non-profit university beginning its 51st year of educating adults, announced that Cincinnatians Dr. Richard N. Aft and Dr. Shekhar Mitra have been reelected to the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees. Dr. Betty Overton-Adkins of the University of Michigan was also reelected.

“Union Institute & University is fortunate to have these experienced trustees. These strong and effective professionals continue to expertly guide the university as we enter our 51st year of educating adults,” said Union President Roger H. Sublett. “They are committed to the university’s mission of engaging, enlightening, and empowering adults in a lifetime of learning and service.”


Dr. Richard N. AftDr. Richard N. Aft, longtime former president of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, currently serves as president of Philanthropic Leadership, a consulting practice offering personal support to new leaders of philanthropic organizations, international non-governmental organizations, and others.

During his 40-year tenure at United Way, he led campaigns that raised over $1 billion in eight communities, including Louisville, Memphis, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. He is author of two books of United Way history: Painful Decisions, Positive Results, a book based on his Union Institute & University doctoral dissertation, and, Grassroots Initiatives Shape an International Movement.

Dr. Aft served as chair of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce “Introducing Cincinnati UWA” program for new CEOs, vice chair of the Board of the Greater Cincinnati Health Collaborative, and as a trustee of many non-profit organizations, including the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Friends of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati, the United Way Foundation, and the United Way of America Retirement Association. He was a founding volunteer and Community Advisory Board Co-Chair for Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. He spends several months each year as a volunteer strategic planning consultant with the leaders of emerging nongovernmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe.

Dr. Aft has chaired numerous boards, including Leadership Cincinnati and Leadership Memphis, United Way of America’s National Professional Council and the United Way of America National Staff Leaders’ Conference. He has served on the Executive Committees of Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, the Hamilton County Family and Children First Council, and Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Council.

Dr. Aft is a doctoral alumnus of Union Institute & University, earning his Ph.D. with a concentration in organizational development and leadership in 2000. Dr. Aft was named to the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees in March 2003. In addition to his Ph.D. from Union, Dr. Aft holds a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from Knox College in Galesburg, IL.

Dr. Shekhar Mitra Dr. Shekhar Mitra is a retired executive with Procter & Gamble. He was the first Asian to be senior vice president of R&D. His contributions to the company included leading the creation and development of “game-changing” technology platforms and innovation strategies that have resulted in well-known consumer products like Crest Whitestrips and ProHealth, Aleve Analgesic, Prilosec, Olay Regenerist, Definity and PROx Skin Care, Hugo Boss and Gucci Fragrances, Gillette and Old Spice Clinical Strength and Metamucil (cholesterol lowering). These innovations have created and grown major P&G brands and their equities with the help of noticeable benefits provided to global consumers fulfilling their unmet needs in a superior way.

During his global leadership role, Dr. Mitra was a “trailblazer” in creating strategic partnerships in many countries and with leading institutions. He was on-ground in China starting P&G’s well-recognized global technical center in Beijing, China, and the strategic partnership with Government of India’s Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). Dr. Mitra was awarded 25 patents in various fields and is a frequent speaker on topics ranging from game-changing innovation approaches and organization development.

Dr. Mitra, uses his leadership skills to enable the younger generation of professionals across all cultures, companies, and businesses to achieve their full potential in the field of science and engineering. He is the founder and President of the first North American Society for Asian Scientists & Engineers (registered as SASE).

Dr. Mitra was elected to the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees in October 2009. He received his undergraduate degree in Biophysical Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology. He earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University in New York; and was Jane Coffin Research Fellow at Yale University.

Dr. Betty Overton-Adkins Dr. Betty Overton-Adkins serves as professor of Clinical Practice in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education and the Director of the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good at the University of Michigan. The National Forum works to encourage people to frame college education as not only an access point for a career, but also as a resource for the greater good of society.

Known as a visionary leader with a commitment to provide learning and mentorship opportunities in innovative environments, Dr. Betty Overton-Adkins has dedicated her life to education and serving others. Her shared passion for social relevance and academic programs that engage, enlighten, and empower those interested in a lifetime of learning and service has been the hallmark of her career in education.

Dr. Overton-Adkins has served as vice president for academic affairs at Spring Arbor University, and as a faculty member and administrator at Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Nashville State Technical Institute, and as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Clinton School for Public Service in Little Rock. She was dean of the graduate school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, overseeing more than 20 graduate programs and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, before joining the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as director of higher education programs.

Dr. Overton-Adkins has been a member of the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees since 2005, serving as chair from 2010 to 2012. Her other affiliations service on the board of the American Association of Higher Education, and as a commissioner and director of the Higher Learning Commission, one of the nation’s six regional accrediting agencies.

Dr. Overton-Adkins earned her Ph.D. in educational leadership from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She received her baccalaureate and master’s degrees in English from Tennessee State University. In 1990 she attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University, and returned to Harvard in 1996 as a visiting faculty fellow at the W.E.B. Dubois Research Institute. Her extensive community service roles include serving on the boards of the Council of Graduate Schools, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), Quality Board of Foote Hospital in Jackson, Michigan, Sojourner House, Detroit and Bread for the World. She is also the founder of Women of Color United Against Domestic Violence, Little Rock and was the governor’s appointee to the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority.

About Union Institute & University
Since 1964, Union Institute & University has been educating adults who seek academic programs that transform lives and communities. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Union Institute & University offers undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degree programs designed for adults seeking to make a difference in their own lives and within their communities. Since its inception in 1964, the university has offered 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’s flexible delivery models, combined with its focus on social relevance, distinguish it from other universities by providing non only online classes, but also brief residencies, face-to-face small classroom settings, and a hybrid model, all emphasizing relevant and transformative coursework taught by more than 300 faculty/scholar-practitioners. Union graduates, including more than a dozen college presidents, leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, members of the United States Congress, and the first female prime minister of Jamaica promote Union’s legacy of utilizing education to transform lives and communities.

Learn more about Union Institute & University here or call 1-800-861-6400.