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Union Institute & University Ranked Among the Best in Nation

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Union Institute & University’s online bachelor degree program has been ranked on the list of best online degree programs for 2018 by U.S. News and World Report.

“Ranked among the best in the nation is an honor,” said Ashley S. Finkes, Director of Marketing. “UI&U is distinguished as a pioneer in adult education. The ranking by U.S. News and World Report confirms our commitment to structure and deliver education to meet the needs of our adult students.”

UI&U ranked within the top 100 (94th) out of 346 total institutions and scored 74/100 within the methodology of rankings. Other institutions that scored at the same ranking level as UI&U include American Public University System, Brandman University, Eastern Oregon University, ECPI University, Florida State University, Herzing University, Kansas State University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, University of Louisiana, University of Maine, University of South Carolina, and University of Wisconsin.

Union Institute & University is a private, non-profit university that specializes in distance education nationwide with – bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree offerings. Founded 53 years ago, in 1964, Union has perfected the 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.

“I invite you to view the innovative bachelor’s career paths in Business & Leadership, Education, Health & Science, and Protection & Civil service, at this link,” said Finkes. “Our bachelor’s programs are designed for students from all walks of life and career dreams. We value the experience our students bring to us by offering a generous transfer credit policy that includes a free application.”

Explore the bachelor’s program that will fulfill your career goal. Click below.

Alumni Spotlight – Renee Mahaffey Harris

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Renee Mahaffey Harris

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: Renee Mahaffey Harris

Education: UI&U Graduate Certificate in Health Education (2014)

Profession: Health advocate for the marginalized and disenfranchised. In her role as the Chief Operating Officer Center for Closing the Health Gap, she works to improve the health and quality of life for vulnerable populations. Under her leadership, the Center for Closing the Health Gap helped steer the creation of the Food Desert Task Force of which she currently chairs, successfully implemented Health and Wellness education series, and launched groundbreaking community based health initiatives in the Greater Cincinnati region.

The Union Graduate Certificate in Health Education prepares the health educator student for the Certificate Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential through the extensive study of the Seven Areas of Responsibilities for Health Educators. The CHES designation signifies that an individual has successfully passed a national competency-based examination demonstrating skill and knowledge of the Seven Areas of Responsibility of Health Education Specialist, upon which the credential is based. (National Commission for Health Education)

In the Q&A below, Renee discusses her passion for health advocacy and her certificate from Union.

Q. What would you like people to know about health education?

A. Health education is critical work that prevents premature deaths. Lifestyle modifications can and do improve health.

Q. What can be done to improve the health disparities for vulnerable populations?

A. We need to meet people where they are and involve them in the development of their health solutions. Continue to implement education and community based health initiatives in collaboration with community organizations such as our hospitals, health organizations, community based organizations and businesses throughout our region. Education, training and outreach programs save lives and improve the quality of life to make our neighborhoods and our people stronger.

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

A. It enabled me to get the credentialing to sit for the Certificate Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. CHES is the national competency-based examination that demonstrates an expertise in the core competencies essential to effective health education.

I needed to prepare for this certification while working full time. Union’s Graduate Certificate in Health Education offered me the curriculum and faculty I needed to be considered a top professional in the field.

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

A. I admire the adaptability and flexibility that is offered to the working adult. Union met me halfway and allowed my career goal to become a reality.

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

A. You are part of an institution that is going to enable you to achieve your professional goals while working full time.

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

A. I have learned from failure. I have learned to move forward in the face of my biggest trials.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. Serving others.

Discover a program that prepares you to serve the community as a Health Educator. Click below!

Distinguished Professor of Ethical Leadership to Deliver Keynote at the 2018 Winter Residency

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Dr. Walter Fluker

Dr. Walter Fluker is the featured speaker at the 2018 January Ph.D. Residency Opening Dinner on January 6. His presentation is entitled, “Plenty Good Room: MLK’s Vision of the World House in an Era of Contested Democratic Space.”

The noted scholar is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership, the editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project and the Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Initiative for the Development of Ethical Leadership (MLK-IDEAL) at Boston University School of Theology.

He is an expert in the theory and practice of ethical leadership. Dr. Fluker has served on numerous committees and boards, including the Urban League of Rochester, NY; the National Selection Committee for U.S. News & World Report America’s Best Leaders; the Board of Liberal Education (the flagship quarterly for the Association of American Colleges and Universities).

Dr. Fluker is the founding executive director of the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership Center and the Coca-Cola Professor of Leadership Studies at Morehouse College. Dr. Fluker is a featured consultant, speaker, lecturer and workshop leader at foundations, businesses, corporations, colleges, universities, governmental and religious institutions, nationally and globally.

In 2016, Dr. Fluker developed the massive open online course (MOOC) Ethical Leadership: Character, Civility and Community with over 8,000 participants from around the globe engaged in the course.

His international experience includes serving as consultant to youth development initiatives in Sierra Leone, West Africa and South Africa sponsored by the Ford Foundation and as a lecturer for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Havana, Cuba. He has served as faculty for emerging global leadership at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria and the Global Friends Initiative in Hong Kong; emerging African leaders in the Johannesburg, South African City Council; lecturer for the U.S. Embassy Speaker/Specialist Program in South Africa, Nigeria, India and China; Distinguished Lecturer to the International Human Rights Exchange Programme; visiting professor for the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, South Africa; and has worked with the African Presidential Center at Boston University and the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race (Birbeck College, University of London and the University of Pretoria, South Africa).

He is the author of the multi-volume series The Papers of Howard Washington Thurman, published by University of South Carolina Press. The first four volumes include My People Need Me (2009), Christian, Who Calls Me Christian? (2012), The Bold Adventure: The Fellowship Church (2015), The Soundless Passion of a Single Mind (2017), and volume five is with the press and scheduled for release in 2019. Dr. Fluker is also the author of Ethical Leadership: The Quest for Character, Civility and Community (Fortress Press, 2009). His most recent manuscript, The Ground Has Shifted: The Future of the Black Church in Post-Racial America, was published with New York University Press in 2016.

He is the recipient of major awards and grants from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Coca-Cola Foundation, Goldman Sachs Foundation, J. P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, The Zeist Foundation and other charitable and philanthropic organizations.

He earned a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from Boston University, a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary, a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and biblical studies from Trinity College; and received the Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa, Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, North Carolina. He is married to Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker and is the father of four children and six grandchildren.

Explore a program that incorporates interdisciplinary study to expand and deepen your knowledge and expertise in leadership, public policy, social change, ethics, creativity, innovation, and design thinking. Click below!

Union Institute & University “Pays It Forward” Funds Scholarships For Hollywood Florida Scholarship Foundation

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Union Institute & University Florida Academic Center is paying it forward by funding scholarships for the Hollywood Florida Scholarship Foundation through an in-kind donation.

“We are delighted to join the Hollywood Florida Scholarship Foundation in its mission to provide scholarships to area high school students,” said Toni Soldano, Director of Enrollment, Florida Academic Center. “UI&U is providing meeting space free of charge to the Hollywood Florida Scholarship Foundation to host literacy workshops for Pre-K through adult learners that has resulted in a $1,800 in-kind donation to the foundation.”

Union Institute & University’s mission is to transform lives and communities.

“Community Partnerships are vital to our mission of transforming lives within the communities we serve,” said. “UI&U is a non-profit, regionally accredited university specializing in providing quality higher education degrees for adults nationwide. Joining the Hollywood Florida Scholarship Foundation to help students access higher education is a win-win.”

The Hollywood Florida Scholarship Foundation has provided almost three million dollars in scholarships to area students since its founding in 1963.

“UI&U will continue to reach out and pay it forward in the Hollywood community,” said Soldano.

Learn more about Union’s mission and values by clicking below.

Leader Spotlight – Dr. George A. Pruitt

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Dr. George Pruitt

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 Dr. George A. Pruitt is featured. Dr. Pruitt is a proud Union alumnus and former UI&U Board of Trustee member.

He retires at the end of 2017 after serving as president of Thomas Edison State University for 35 years. He is the among the longest-serving public university presidents in the nation and was identified as one of the country’s most effective college presidents in a study of presidential leadership funded by the Exxon Education Foundation.

Dr. Pruitt has served five secretaries of education under three presidents during his tenure as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the U.S. Secretary of Education on the recognition of accrediting agencies. He is the recipient of five honorary degrees, in addition to numerous awards, honors and commendations, and has consulted widely within the higher education community, as well as in business and government.

In the Q&A below, Dr. Pruitt shares his leadership insights.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. I’ve never seen a definition that defines leadership in the right way. You know leadership when you see it. Leadership is a vision and direction and others buy in to it. Many people have vision but lack the capacity to execute to make things happen to change.

Q. Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.

A. I was the first student society black president at Illinois State University. I issued nonnegotiable demands and the president sent two people to negotiate and that turned into collaboration. That was my first foray into leadership.

Q. What leader do you admire most and why?

A. I have several. My father, my uncle, Abraham Lincoln, Crazy Horse, Malcolm X, and Gandhi. They were principled and the cause was not about them.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. No point in doing well that which should not be done at all.

Q. When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?

A. I have found myself at the front of line without wanting to be there.

About Dr. George A. Pruitt

Dr. George A. Pruitt, has served as president of Thomas Edison State University since 1982. He retires at the end of December 2017.

He is the among the longest-serving public university presidents in the nation and was identified as one of the country’s most effective college presidents in a study of presidential leadership funded by the Exxon Education Foundation. Prior to his tenure at Thomas Edison State University, he served in executive leadership positions at Illinois State University, Towson State University, Morgan State University, Tennessee State University, and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

Dr. Pruitt has served five secretaries of education under three presidents during his tenure as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the U.S. Secretary of Education on the recognition of accrediting agencies. He is the recipient of five honorary degrees, in addition to numerous awards, honors and commendations, and has consulted widely within the higher education community, as well as in business and government.

He is past chairman and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and past chairman and a member of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council. He is the former chairman of the board of trustees for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning; vice chair, National Commission on Higher Education Attainment; member and chairman, board of trustees of The Union Institute & University; past member of the board of directors of the American Council on Education and of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; past member, board of trustees, Rider University; and former advisor, Kellogg National Fellowship Program, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He is a member of the boards of directors of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Pruitt is past chairman and a longtime member of the board of directors of SEEDCO (Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation) and the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce. He is a former member of the boards of directors of the New Jersey State Planning Commission, The Trenton Savings Bank, Capital City Partnership and of Sun National Bank, and currently serves as a member of the board of directors of Choose New Jersey, Inc., and of Greater Trenton, Inc.

He has an adult daughter, Shayla. He and his wife, Pamela, reside in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Choose your leadership program today from the Bachelor of Science program with a major in Organizational Leadership, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership degree, or Doctoral Ethical & Creative Leadership major.

Student Spotlight – Toni Marie Soldano

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Toni Soldano

Each month, faculty and staff are recognized for their enormous contribution to Union. In the words of President Sublett, “Only people make a difference in an organization and only people are important in our lives.”

Toni Soldano is Director of Enrollment, Florida Academic Center, is in the spotlight. Toni is also a student in the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) program. Learn more about Toni in the Q&A below.

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

A. This is a personal goal that I have had for a very long time, and something I would like to complete for my parents. I hope this degree will help me grow in my current job capacity, and will eventually lead me to promotion opportunities.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I love the flexibility of the online format, and the accelerated pace of this program. Completing a master’s degree in one year is a great thing!

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I am an employee of the university, so I know the value of an education from Union. The faculty is exceptional and I know the curriculum will prepare me for my future goals. Union’s mission and values closely align with my own especially the theme of social responsibility!

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

A. Oh that’s easy. I would tell myself to stay in school and complete my degree! Taking a semester off at 22 turned into taking 17 years off. I know it’s never too late, but completing a bachelor’s degree at 40 and now a master’s at 51 is very different from having done it all in my twenties!

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

A. My parents have been awesome supports to me throughout my life, always encouraging me in whatever I decide to do, and instilling the value of education in me. I promised them I would follow through and I want to make them proud of me! Being a mom to three amazing children has made me want to set the example for them that you can achieve whatever you want in life if you work for it and make a commitment to yourself. And my wonderful husband, who makes me want to be a better person every day, supports me and wants to see me leave my mark in the world! I couldn’t do it without him!

The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) will prepare you for today’s challenging global arena. Learn how the MSOL will jumpstart your career at the link below.

Alumni Spotlight – Rosemary Ellsworth Brown

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Rosemary Brown

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: Rosemary Ellsworth Brown

Education: Union Institute & University Ph.D. 1993

Profession: Psychologist, author “Addiction is the Symptom”

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

A. My doctorate degree represented a personal goal I had set for myself shortly before my fifty-second birthday.

I began my doctoral program at the Union Institute towards the end of 1989. The members of my doctoral committee were unfailingly supportive of my work. Clark Moustakis’ book “Heuristic Research: Design, Methodology and Application” was published in 1990. My advisor at Union, Professor Jose Cedillos, provided me with a copy of the text and after perusing it I decided to use the methodology for my research. The question I hoped to answer was simply “Why was the rate of relapse so high in twelve step programs?”

Not only was I able to answer this question satisfactorily but also develop a therapeutic process to heal the cause of addictive behavior and prevent relapse for all addictions. As my research progressed my thought process evolved from the standard belief of recovery that addiction was chronic and could only be treated but not healed (which results in some form of relapse)— to the understanding that healing could occur and relapse be prevented.

Although my research began in 1971 on a personal level and continued to include both academic and professional research, there’s no question in my mind that the end result would not have been achieved without my graduate program at Union. The best part of all is that although it began as a focus on a minority of those people referred to as addicts, it ended as a book of practical information for everyone who suffers from the original addiction—control/emotional dependency. This understanding, alone— that any conflict is simply an issue of control has proved invaluable in understanding all relationships.

I couldn’t be more grateful for choosing the Union Institute & University.

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

A. The program you choose is designed to fit you; not for you to fit the program.

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

A. 24/7 give it your best of those hours! You can’t miss.

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

A. The Brown Method, as described in “Addiction is the Symptom”, eliminates the trial and error aspect of addiction therapy and replaces it with a precise recipe (an algorithm) for success.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. Reading—continuing to learn! No time to waste with my 85th coming up December 11.

Stay engaged with our vibrant, diverse, and enlightened alumni community by clicking below.

Union Leaders – Scott Ehrhardt

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Scott Ehrhardt

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.

During the month of November, UI&U has recognized our student veterans. This month Scott Ehrhardt, Chief of Training, HQ, US European Command and Union Institute & University Ph.D. student in Public Policy & Social Change shares his insights on leadership.

Scott serves as the Chief of Training, Head Quarters, European Command, in Stuttgart, Germany while also holding a position as an Adjunct Professor for the University of Maryland. Collectively, he has over 20 years’ experience in the federal government that includes seven years active duty as an infantry soldier with two deployments.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. Being connected to the military there is a saying that is often used that says, “There is a difference between being in charge and being a leader.” Someone that is in charge gains authority by position, rank, or seniority but that does not necessarily denote ability or the willingness of their team to work effectively. We have all had bosses from time to time who were in charge but were actually poor managers and team leaders unable to effectively make gains in productivity or motivate the team to work more in unison. Nobody likes to work for someone who is in charge but not a capable leader. Being a leader, especially in the military sense, is having the ability to influence others to accomplish their mission by encouraging purpose, direction, and motivation. People like following leaders, they hate working for someone in charge.

Q. Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.

A. While assisting with a deployment of a brigade from Baumholder, Germany it was essential that we have face-to-face conversations with each service member to ensure that each family situation was settled and that they were prepared to go down range both mentally and from a pragmatic standpoint (i.e. – financially, life insurance, next of kin notification, etc.). Our office was rather small and it was primarily my responsibility to make sure that our station was manned and the paperwork signed off. I could have taken a simple rubber stamp approach to push the soldiers through but I wanted to get these soldiers out the door the right way. Not only did the entire office volunteer their own time to get this done but they were able to bring in people from other offices to assist. In total over 3,000 soldiers and their families were able to be personally talked to and ensured they were good to go in a span of a couple of weeks. It was not the fact that I was cracking the whip and forcing people to do what was needed but rather connecting with individuals and developing buy-in was far more productive.

Q. What leader do you admire most and why?

A. By far the leader I admire most is General George C. Marshall. A career military man, throughout his career he constantly focused on making things better not only for his organization but for all involved. He revised the military command and staff process which was a boon during World War II, was responsible for Civilian Conservation Corps in the Northwest, and served as Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II in which he oversaw the greatest expansion of the military in history. But what impresses me the most is how he used his military experience, both as a staff officer and a combatant, and was able to curtail that towards civilian endeavors. Probably the most notable example of this ability is the Marshall Plan which aided former enemies in rebuilding their nations so that they would become our allies and partners precluding war later on. He did this as Secretary of State and received the Noble Peace Prize for his efforts, the only field officer to ever receive this award. After this he became the president of the Red Cross, Secretary of Defense, and was Chairman for the American Battle Monuments Commission. As someone who wants to constantly reach new goals and better the lives of those around me George C. Marshall is a great example of how to achieve this.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other – JFK. To be a good leader, in my mind, means that continuous learning must be a primary objective. Learning about your employees and where they are at in their life, grasping the benefits of new technology, and adjusting to the needs of the mission and/or your customers are constants to an effective team. If learning stops or the old adage of ‘that’s the way we have always done it’ is used then the effectiveness of that leader and their organization will constantly decline.

Q. When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?

A. During Operation Just Cause, our squad was engaged while in the middle of Panama City. My squad leader literally hid behind the HMMWV while the rest of the squad sat stunned. I was able to direct action and provide guidance via radio during the skirmish, despite being brand new to the Army (I had finished Basic Training just a month or two prior). Although caught in a highly stressful situation, I was able to perform while keeping my wits about me. From that time to this, that experience has taught me that not only myself but others can achieve if given the opportunity regardless if they have the experience or not.

About Scott Ehrhardt

Scott is a Union Institute & University Ph.D. student in Public Policy & Social Change. His dissertation, due to be completed in 2018, focuses on applying constructivist notions to military intervention. His dissertation is entitled: A Soldier’s Story: The Impact of Soldiers’ Experience in Afghanistan as it Applies to Constructivist Thought in Military Intervention.

Scott serves as the Chief of Training, Head Quarters, European Command, in Stuttgart, Germany while also holding a position as an Adjunct Professor for the University of Maryland. Collectively, he has over 20 years’ experience in the federal government that includes seven years active duty as an infantry soldier with two deployments. He has spent a majority of his time in federal service in the training arena holding such positions as: Training Technician, Non-Commissioned Officer Education System Manager, Installation Schools Manager, and Operations Chief for Annual Training for the Western Region. He has also held positions as Supervisory Operations Specialist and Comprehensive Support Division Manager. This experience is supplemented by three years as a Corrections Officer at King County, Washington (Seattle) and three total years as a college administrator.

He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Washington in Arts, Media, and Culture and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Troy University where he successfully developed constructivist strategies to the growing complexity of world events. An example of this ability was his invitation to the International Studies Association International Conference in 2011 to discuss how large corporations could be included in nation-level talks as Progressive Asymmetrical States. He was also invited to the Midwest World History Association Conference in September 2014 as a panel member discussing the position of states when considering human rights. Recently, he was invited to the Mid-West Popular Culture Association Conference in Cincinnati to discuss Women in Combat Arms.

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Alumni Spotlight – Carol Keyes

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Carol Keyes

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

Education: UI&U Ph.D. graduate (1980)

Profession: Educator, Professor Emeritus Pace University.

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

A. Personally my degree has given me the opportunity to work with wonderful colleagues, and to continue learning.

Professionally it enabled me to teach at Hofstra University, Pace University and the University of Wisconsin, develop programs for children and parents, work with differently abled adults and children, write books and articles for parents, teachers, and the field of early childhood.

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

A. The Union process of teaching and learning allowed me to be my own learner. My committee and faculty were wonderful. Were I to have a chance to choose a means to study for a doctoral degree again at this time, I would still choose to study the same way. I value being able to choose what I want to study, when I want to study, and the means by which I will acquire the knowledge and skills. I chose to work alone when it suited me, but in this Union process I had the committee and the network to reach out to in times when assistance was needed. The seminar and peer days were of value for several reasons. The peers provided a firm support in terms of the Union Graduate School process. The network also served to provide guidance and feedback in terms of personal growth. The diverse specialties of our entire group also allowed exposure to many areas of interest.

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

A. Connect with all other learners and faculty. Be open to experiences and opportunities.

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

A. Two main accomplishments come to mind; my books and articles for parents and teachers and helping to develop the National Coalition for Campus Child Care Inc.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. Though officially retired, I have more passions than I can enumerate. I will highlight activities with my family; studying, learning, and writing; talking to young folks I meet about options in life. Every day is a gift.

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