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Faculty & Staff

Softball and Higher Education Equal a Home Run for Julie Crandall

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When you talk to Julie Crandall, executive director of UI&U’s Sacramento Academic Center, you quickly learn she has two passions – softball and higher education.

The retired professional softball player, who attended University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) on a full scholarship, is a two-time All-American.

“I was a tomboy and grew up playing baseball with the boys,” said Julie. “I switched to softball because opportunities for girls were more prevalent.”

Her prowess on the field landed her in the UNLV Hall of Fame as a team member and as a catcher. Her team was third in the nation. She was also the 1998 UNLV Sportswoman of the Year.

As a professional, she travelled the country and played exhibition games with the U.S. Olympic team.

“My mind focuses when I am on the field,” said Julie who now plays slow softball. “I am at my happiest playing.”

Crandall completed her master’s in communications at Auburn University in Alabama, where she was a graduate assistant. A chapter on her thesis on millennial celebration time and frequency was published Expressions of Ethnography—the chapter is titled “The Millennium Waltz”.

Her other passion is higher education.

“My parents were high school teachers. I always knew I was headed to college,” she says.

Julie believes in higher education and in Union. “Education is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Union students are special in that they are working adults, juggling a career, family, and school,” said Julie who teaches two classes for Union.

She recently became System Director for Regional Recruiting along with her duties as Executive Director of the Sacramento Academic Center. Her work fit into Union’s goal to develop unique adaptations to the various locations served, while maintaining seamless integration with the Enrollment and Marketing teams who are collectively focused on growing enrollment across all programs in all locations.

Julie looks forward to her new position.

“Union is a special place with infinite opportunities to transform lives and communities.”

Interesting facts about Julie:

Selected for the All-Star Team when playing professionally.

She has lived in nine states.

She can juggle!

She teaches two classes at Union: From Stone Tablets to Twitter and Human Communication and Misunderstanding.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

 

Meet UI&U World-Changer Sonya M. Fultz, M.Ed.

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Sonya’s love for Guatemala started 16 years ago when she adopted her son.

“It was love at first sight. I knew he was my son when I set eyes on him,” says Sonya M. Fultz, M.Ed., Senior Director for Enrollment and Academic Partnerships at UI&U.

Since then she has led Guatemala adoptive families on Return to Guatemala trips, aiding them in connecting with their children’s birth country.

 

President of ALDEA

She also serves as president of ALDEA: Advancing Local Development through Empowerment and Action in Guatemala. ALDEA addresses the principal needs of rural, indigenous Guatemalans to strengthen communities and enhance the health and well-being of families. They work in predominantly Mayan communities in the Department of Chimaltenango in Guatemala.

Sonya was initially drawn to this organization’s vision for community empowerment and long-term sustainability. “I’m proud of how our work has evolved in recent years as we’ve learned together through experience and responded to the changing needs of our Mayan partners.

Right now, our commitment to locally led development and continued growth is taking us in exciting new directions. In response to community feedback during last year’s strategic planning process, our partners at ABPD have successfully engaged men in a new pilot program designed to complement our women’s empowerment work. They’re focusing more on addressing domestic violence. And, we have recently installed our first solar-powered potable water system!”

ALDEA is working with Information Matrix, a television program hosted by film star Laurence Fishburne, on a short-form documentary about ALDEA. It will air on public television stations nationwide along with a commercial.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to raise awareness about issues in Guatemala and our approach to grassroots development.”

Sonya is a world changer and a representative of Union’s mission to transform lives and communities.

 

About Sonya M. Fultz

Sonya is the Senior Director for Academic Partnerships at Union Institute & University. She formerly served as chair of the Southwestern Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) Articulation and Transfer Committee. She also taught and served as Chair of Undergraduate Studies at Antioch University Midwest in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She has trained the Ministry of Education in Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago in Comprehensive School Conflict Management and is focused on classroom management and conflict studies. Her interest in Guatemala originated with her Guatemalan-born son. She has led Guatemala adoptive families on Return to Guatemala trips for the last 13 years, aiding them in connecting with their children’s birth country.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Marine Veteran Continues Quest to Help Children

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Mitch and Mindy Rivas are making an impact on the world of the medically fragile community through the Maryssa Mission Foundation (MMF). They created the foundation shortly after Maryssa was called to heaven in November 2015 at age two.

 

The Challenge

“We saw firsthand the challenges of a family with a medically fragile child. We often found ourselves living in a hospital room four hours from home. As doctors tried to understand and cure Maryssa’s uncommon diagnosis, we stayed by her beside constantly. Our stays at the hospital were met with financial struggles, periods of hopelessness, and a looming feeling of inadequacy as parents, because we were being split from our other three growing children who longed for their parents and sister.”

 

Partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The foundation partnered with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), where Maryssa had been a patient, to create the Home Away From Home Initiative. To date, the foundation has raised $37,500, enough to provide temporary safe lodging to families for more than 280 nights.

 

New Initiative

New this year is Maryssa Family Lounge. The lounge will be part of the expanded critical care building on the corner of the old and new hospital segments. This unique location symbolizes the transition of Maryssa’s life and journey in the hospital to the amazing mission of her foundation.  Families will have access to this 40-person capacity room, a safe refuge to digest information regarding their child’s care plan. And, it’s within running distance of their child’s room, in case a situation requires immediate attention. A $100,000 donation will make this family lounge a reality. The Rivas Family hopes to cut the ribbon on the lounge around her 7-year angel-versary in November of 2022. She would have been 9 years old. Her twin sister Malinah will do the honor of cutting the ribbon.

 

Union’s Role

Rivas, a Marine Corps veteran and UI&U alumnus, used his capstone project to create the blueprints for the foundation to honor Maryssa’s memory.

“UI&U played a vital role in the progress of MMF. My capstone project revolved around the strategic planning for our foundation. As we celebrate our fourth year of incorporation we are grateful to share our accomplishments with the university. I am forever grateful of UI&U’s part in this wonderful journey,” said Rivas.

 

What’s Next?

Our largest fundraiser, the MMF Spring Banquet and Auction Fundraiser, just raised more than $53,000 to benefit the medically fragile community and continues to grow. But our mission remains the same: to honor Maryssa and “Be the Blessing We Prayed to Receive®.” For more information, please visit www.MMFkids.org

 

About Mitch Rivas

Mitch is a world changer who is living the UI&U mission to change lives and communities. He holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) from Union. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

A Perspective on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Noted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. biographer, historian, and UI&U doctoral faculty member Stewart Burns recently gave an interview on Dr. King’s civil rights activism. The Sojourner’s Truth, Toledo, Ohio’s African American newspaper, ran it as a two-part series. Burns reflects on lesser known aspects of Dr. King’s inner struggles and the angst and depression he suffered as he traveled the often solitary road as a civil rights leader. You can read part 1 of the interview here, and part 2 here

 

Dr. Burns Describes Dr. King

Burns served as editor of the King Papers at Stanford University, and developed a documentary history of the Montgomery bus boycott (made into an HBO feature). Thus, he has unique perspectives on Dr. King’s life. He points out that, as a servant leader, Dr. King acutely felt the suffering of others. He withstood the daily onslaught of criticism for his stands on the Vietnam War and economic inequality.

Burns describes Dr. King’s last years: “For the last four and a half years of his life he was a wounded warrior. It does seem that from a psychological or emotional perspective, it is very often the case that activists or people who are leaders for social change find themselves not only on the edge of society in the sense that they’re really pushing for significant change in the society, but also that their minds and consciousness and spirits are somewhat on the edge of what’s considered normal.”

And yet, Burns says, “King himself was a real role model. He wanted a united movement of people of color and poor whites, which was the idea for the poor people’s campaign, but above all he wanted black people to be united.”

 

About Dr. Burns

Dr. Burns chairs UI&U’s Ethical & Creative Leadership concentration in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program and shares leadership of its Martin Luther King Jr. Studies specialization. He is a highly regarded historian of the civil rights movement, author or editor of eight books, former editor of the King Papers at Stanford University, where he also taught U.S. History before joining Union. He has been a nonviolent activist for most of his life, and for over a quarter century engaged in interracial healing in higher education. Learn more about Dr. Burns and his commitment to connect Dr. King’s legacy to current issues at this link.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

law enforcement career

CJM Degree Impacts Law Enforcement Career

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law enforcement career

Union is saluting our Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice Management (CJM) students, staff, and alumni through the month of May in recognition of National Police Week, celebrated nationally from May 12–18, 2019.

This week we spotlight Sergeant Brian Kinney, Homicide Investigator, a CJM alumnus. Sergeant Kinney discusses the impact his CJM degree has on his life and law enforcement career.

 

Q & A with Sergeant Brian Kinney

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit the community?

A: The CJM degree benefits the community by providing a better-rounded officer who has been exposed to contemporary techniques within a justice organization, interpretation and analysis skills, and better communication tools. I also believe the degree makes for a more empathetic officer.

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit a Law Enforcement Officer?

A: I believe the degree provides an officer with better decision-making skills. In addition, the degree allows the officer to be eligible for promotion.

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

A: My degree has given me a sense of accomplishment. I am the first male in my family to graduate from college. I am also a role model for my children. They watched me work full time and still complete my degree.

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

A: Union allowed me flexibility and the ability to schedule classes around my work schedule. The program advisers understood that I worked full time and my classes had to be built around my work schedule.

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

A: Stick with it. Don’t quit. Your degree will open up professional opportunities that didn’t exist before.

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

A: My greatest accomplishment is my family. My wife and two children have supported me every step of the way professionally and personally.

Q: What is your passion away from work?

A: My passion away from work is to spend as much time with my family as possible.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

 

Florida's 2019 principal of the year

Professor Named Florida’s 2019 Principal of the Year

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The Union community is sending their congratulations to UI&U faculty member Michelle Kefford who was named Florida’s 2019 Principal of the Year.

The award reflects her commitment to students and her belief in lifelong learning.

“Working with all ages in the pursuit of knowledge is my passion,” said Kefford. “I tell all my students it is never too late to learn. I know the sacrifices my Union students are making to return to school after a long hiatus, and to juggle work and family responsibilities, but we are never too old to learn.”

Kefford has worked in Broward County schools for 19 years, all at the high school level. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Florida State University, a Master of Science in Science Education from Florida International University, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.

Kefford has held various positions on district committees. She is credited with school improvement initiatives including a mentoring program called Kefford’s Kids, and the creation of Falcon Flyers, a pathway for middle school students to earn high school credits. Her efforts have resulted in the school earning an “A” for six of the last seven years.

Dr. Thomas Frederick, who chairs UI&U’s General Education program, sees the connection between Professor Kefford and Union’s mission to transform lives and communities.

“She is the principal of a large senior high school, a community leader, a college professor, and a wife and mother. Yet, she still takes time to make each of her students feel special and valued.”

Teaching at Union is a family affair for Kefford. Michelle follows in her mother’s footsteps. Reta Smith also taught at Union as an affiliate faculty member.

The 2019 Principal of the Year award carries a cash prize of $3,500 and was presented to Kefford by the Florida State Board of Education and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. She has been principal at the Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines since 2011.

Read more about Michelle and her award in the Miami Herald.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University bachelor’s degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Allison Wilson Leggett Touches the Lives of Teachers

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dr. allison wilson leggett

Each month, we recognize faculty and staff for their enormous contribution to Union. Today’s spotlight is on Professor Allison Wilson Leggett, Ed. D., Lead Faculty for Union’s Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD) program. Dr. Leggett is based at the Los Angeles Academic Center.

As a 13-year-old taking on a summer job as a child care provider at a local Baptist church, Dr. Leggett began to fall in love with teaching young children. She took on the role of teacher, not knowing an adult was really responsible for the toddlers. With no prior training, she read to toddlers and, through play, taught them math and science.

A few years later, NASA approached her high school searching for a student with high aptitude in math and science, and asked her to work for them. With a fondness and propensity for math and science, this new summer internship shaped her interest in space travel and led to a six-year tenure with NASA. Dr. Leggett worked in a NASA chemical and physical lab where she was the only woman of color and the only female. “I relate to the movie Hidden Figures, because there were a lot of stereotypes about me and I had to fight through that discrimination to be respected. The experience also solidified my fight for educational equality. The barriers of discrimination crumble when education and experience are prioritized over gender and race.”

After leaving NASA she taught at the high school level and that is when higher education came calling. “One of my students won the state science fair. That publicity led to a job offer to teach at the higher education level, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Learn more about Professor Leggett in the Q & A below.

What attracted you to become a part of Team Union?

I am able to touch the lives of teachers through Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD). I find that excellence in teaching has a domino effect. Being part of the CHAD degree program allows me to teach the teachers who are educating the youngest and most vulnerable in our society. I have had the opportunity to visit migrant farmers whose children attend child care centers April – October each year.

I have the goal of expanding higher education to the under-served in California in order for child care assistants to become teachers, whether through the Virtual Classroom to improve access or being the second university in California to offer a doctoral degree in Early Childhood Education. Further, I have the goal of restating the Early Childhood Credential for the state of California, and am currently making recommendations to the state to amend the Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs) in Early Care and Education (formerly Early Childhood Education) to include elements for teaching through play. California State Superintendent of Public Education, Dr. Tony Thurman, has asked that I join his transition team in preparing K-12 students for jobs of tomorrow (computer science, STEAM, CTE).

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

I would be president of a university.

What surprises people about you?

I think many people that meet me are surprised by my positive outlook after encountering obstacles. I constantly and consistently work to improve my practice. People are surprised about my fearlessness.

What is your favorite book, and why?

Since childhood, my favorite book has been Alice in Wonderland. A professor once pointed out that the book is an allegory of mathematics and physics. I found fascination in the quantum physics element of Alice shrinking to the size of an atom. It’s no wonder that is my favorite book!

What advice would you give to a young person?

Never give up on your dream.

 

Don’t give up on your dream to teach young children. Learn how the CHAD program can transform your life and community by clicking here, or call us today at 800-861-6400.

New Executive Leader at Union Institute & University

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Nikki Marks new executive leader

 

Nikki Marks is the new Director of Student Services for Union Institute & University. Student services provide academic support for students ranging from tutoring to career development.

Marks is passionate about student success. “Student Services is a vital piece for many students to be successful, especially working adults with factors in their lives that make it more challenging to engage in their coursework.”

Her goals include reaching as many students as possible. “I want to make sure the services we provide help each student be successful academically as well as develop the skills that will help them be successful in life,” said Marks.  “Student Services are a vital piece of student retention.  We want students to interact with our services frequently and in a way that helps them be successful while they are with Union and also after they graduate.”

Future plans include the implementation of Handshake, a career network for students and alumni, student retention, and expansion of career services.

Marks joined Union in 2012 and most recently served as Lead Program Advisor. She is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.S. in Journalism and a M.A. in Leadership, Public Policy, and Social Issues from Union.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click below to learn more.

Union Ranked Among Nation’s Best

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Washington Monthly 2018 College Rankings

Union Institute & University was recently ranked by Washington Monthly as among the nation’s best.

Union ranked second among Best Bang for the Buck Colleges (page 44), and scored #11 for Best 4-year Colleges for Adult Learners (page 32). Union also ranked #54 as a higher education model in Washington Monthly’s 2018 College Rankings (page 76). Washington Monthly ranks schools that welcome low-income students and focus on the opportunity to transform their lives and communities. The researchers look at social mobility as a priority, and factor in price and percentage of students receiving Pell Grants.

Union’s founding in 1964 was a result of presidents coming together from 10 colleges to create a new institution that could break down barriers to higher education and better serve working adults and others seeking to find alternatives to traditional higher education.

“This new ranking underscores and validates Union’s commitment to its social justice mission by removing barriers that so many experience as they strive to attain a college degree,” said Union President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb.

“We are committed to equity of access to educational excellence around the country and the world. In addition to degree completion programs that offer high transferability rates and accelerated learning paths, we are working to improve pathways for stackable certificates and seamless bridges from one degree level to the next. Union is the right partner to solve the need for higher education degrees due to its more than five decades of identifying and refining ways to structure and deliver education to meet the needs of online learners,” said Dr. Webb.

According to Washington Monthly’s September/October 2018 College Ranking publication, “The rankings are often listed alongside (or above) U.S. News. We rate schools on three equally weighted criteria: social mobility, research, and public service. Instead of rewarding schools that reject 95 percent of applicants, we give high marks to colleges that enroll lots of low-income students and help them graduate and earn a good living without too much debt. We factor in pure research spending and the number of undergraduates who go on to earn PhDs. And we give extra weight to colleges that send their graduates out into the world to serve the community at large.” (Carey, Page 15).

Mollie Miller, M.B.A., Director of Institutional Research & IRB Coordinator, in Union’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness said, “Washington Monthly provides a unique perspective within the higher education ranking landscape. Rankings such as these demonstrate Union’s global standing compared to peer institutions and universities.”

Founded 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. UI&U academic services include small classes, dedicated faculty who are practitioners in their fields, one-on-one program advising, writing and math tutoring services, access to its renowned 100 percent online library, and career services.

Union Institute & University undergraduate students achieved a successful outcome measure (graduation rate) of 70% at 4-years (according to IPEDS Outcome Measures – Winter 2018).

To learn more about Union Institute & University and its career pathways designed for the working adult, click below.
Michael Raffanti Ph.D

Professor Michael A. Raffanti has gone to the dogs!

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Michael Raffanti Ph.D

Tacoma resident Michael A. Raffanti, Ed.D., J.D. has gone to the dogs! Dog rescue that is. He recently co-founded a non-profit organization called Mila’s Mutts to collaborate with a rescuer in Mexico to get dogs off the street, provide veterinary care, and transport them to the U.S. where they are adopted into “fur-ever” homes.

“Like so many animal lovers who travel to Mexico, I was astonished and saddened by the number of dogs and cats roaming the streets of La Paz, which we began visiting in 1999. Early on, we would feed strays, but were disappointed by the lack of options for us to help these animals more substantially. That changed when we discovered that it was relatively simple to transport dogs back to the U.S.

I had heard about individual “rescatistas” living in La Paz who open their homes to stray animals purely out of compassion and great personal cost, caring for sometimes more than 20 dogs. I was introduced to an amazing rescatista, Ceci, about a year ago and since that time I have become more involved in supporting her amazing rescue efforts. Desiring to make a more substantial contribution to Ceci’s labor of love, I am partnering with like-minded friends to form Mila’s Mutts so that we can support Ceci’s work in rescuing Mexican dogs and finding homes for them in the Pacific Northwest. I believe this comports with our social justice mission at UI&U; we reduce suffering for these dogs and work collaboratively, across cultures, to bring more compassion into the world.”

If you would like to help Michael and Mila’s Mutts, reach out to him at Michael.Raffanti@myunion.edu.

 

About Dr. Michael A. Raffanti

Dr. Raffanti is Dean of the Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Studies Program. In addition to administering the UI&U Ph.D. program, he teaches seminars in research and educational studies, and supervises dissertation research. Dr. Raffanti has a varied professional background in education and social justice. While practicing poverty law in San Francisco, he collaborated with community members in launching a law academy at an urban high school, which precipitated his movement from law to education. While earning his teaching license, he directed the education department of an AIDS service organization and developed HIV prevention programs for adolescents, gay and bisexual men, and communities of color. Dr. Raffanti has taught third grade in urban settings and served in a variety of educational leadership roles. He also taught at-risk high school students in a weekend community college program. Michael has online/blended university teaching experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at Western Governors University, Fielding Graduate University, Pepperdine University, Southern Arkansas University, and California Institute of Integral Studies. His research interests are in leadership studies, social justice education, diversity, and qualitative research methodologies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and history from University of Portland, a master’s degree from The Evergreen State College (education), a Juris Doctor from Boston College of Law School, and a Doctor of Education from Fielding Graduate University.

 

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