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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.

Student Spotlight – Pearl Bates

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Pearl Bates

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2018, is a national holiday that honors the life and work of Dr. King. He often posed the question, “What Are You Doing For Others?” Union strives to answer that question in our quest to focus on social justice and social responsibility as part of our mission to engage, enlighten, and empower our students and in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization program.

Student Pearl Bates shares how she is planning to continuing Dr. King’s legacy in the Q&A below.

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

A. With the completion of my degree, I want to continue writing about the intersections of faith and women and gender issues, as well as the impact of policies that primarily impact women of color and sustain poverty and economic inertia.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. What led me to the MLK program was the opportunity to study about one of the most impactful faith leaders of our time, and to converse with like-minded up-and-coming scholars and expert faculty.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. What led me to UI & U was the quality of the faculty, the emphasis on social justice, and the fact that the program is firmly grounded in interdisciplinary studies.

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

A. The advice I would give to my 20-something self is live your best life with full-intention and don’t allow yourself to follow anyone else’s dreams for you! You are special and unique just the way you are – honor yourself and your God, and life will give you back in good measure what you put into it. And finally, do your absolute best in whatever you undertake. You might be surprised at who is watching you and for what reason.

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

A. I would say that my great-grandmother has influenced my life the most. The reason I say that is because she was living history. She died seven years ago at the age of 104. The things she lived through – sharecropping, the Great Migration from the South, Jim/Jane Crow, being a black feminist before feminism was a ‘thing,’ being a faith leader and community activist – all with an elementary education. Her wisdom was unparalleled and she made it plain. Finally, she recognized what God was doing in my life and she took me to church with her when I was a child. She was the first person to support me fully in my faith journey. I draw inspiration from her life and her words on a daily basis. Indeed, as I learned from her so well, “those who know better, do better!”

About Pearl Bates

Pearl Bates is a self-described feminist/womanist liberation theologian. Additionally, her career has spanned several industries and has allowed her to utilize her strategic management and communication skills in her roles as general manager, assistant managing director, and manager of research operations. Her career took a sharp turn after the shocking events of 9/11 when she enrolled in seminary at Drew Theological School and concentrated her studies in theology and ethics. Initially intending to pursue a career in ministry and the chaplaincy, she was redirected by two of her mentors and professors, the Rev. Dr. Lynne Westfield and the Rev. Dr. Traci West, to the teaching profession.

Acting on their wisdom and keen insight, she began her teaching career in 2007 at the City University of New York leading a course titled The Dynamics of Interpersonal Communication with para-educators in the NYC public school system. After five years leading the course, Bates was led to pursue an advanced degree in Elementary/Special Education. Bates has utilized this degree to assist her students at Pillar College in Newark, NJ where she leads underserved and underprepared non-traditional college students in courses across the curricula in Biblical Studies, Education, and General Studies. Bates believes that this is one of the best ways in which to follow her calling and to make the most impact in continuing Dr. King’s legacy of working toward economic empowerment and justice for those historically excluded from such opportunities.

She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Public Policy & Social Change with specializations in MLK and Women & Gender studies at the Union Institute & University. Her research interests include black womanist/feminist ethical thought, race and gender politics, and black feminist pragmatism. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Science, Elementary Education from Pace University.

Discover the impact Dr. King can have on your life and others in the MLK Studies Specialization. Click below!

Student spotlight: Maurice Harris

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Maurice Harris

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2018, is a national holiday that honors the life and work of Dr. King. He often posed the question, “What Are You Doing For Others?” Union strives to answer that question in our quest to focus on social justice and social responsibility as part of our mission to engage, enlighten, and empower our students and in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization program.

Student Maurice Harris tells us how he plans to impact positive social change in the Q&A below.

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

A. To date, my career has been in media, marketing and communications. When I earn my Ph.D., I hope to split my time between teaching at the university level and producing media that drives positive social change and inspires ethical leadership.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. People are often surprised to learn that my academic background consists of business and leadership although my work is primarily creative. However, I’ve learned that the creative professional’s most valuable skill is the art of framing — making meaning of the world in ways that resonate with people. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Ethical and Creative Leadership to build my fluency in the language of leadership so that I might use the art of framing to lead positive social change.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Union came highly recommended from a friend who knew that I was looking for an accredited, non-traditional Ph.D. program that would allow me to balance, perhaps even blend, school and career.

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

A. When I was in my 20s, I was torn between following my dreams or delivering on my parents’ expectations. Life does not always allow us to go after our dreams. In hindsight, I am glad I took the chance…which also meant taking a several-year hiatus from college. But bucking my parents’ expectations came with a steep and somewhat unnecessary emotional cost. If I could talk to my younger self, I’d tell him to walk boldly toward his dreams, succeed or fail, realizing that life becomes so much richer for simply taking the chance to live it.

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

A. There is no single individual that I look to as my greatest influence. The reality is, there are many people present and past in whom I find inspiration and mentorship. Lately, I find myself poring over the writings of James Baldwin because I want my own creative work — my writings, music, and videos — to express my cultural experiences with as much brutal honesty and authenticity. I connect with the call for racial healing that characterized so much of Baldwin’s writing. And I admire how fearlessly he used his platform as a public pedagogue to talk about issues like same-sex and interracial relationships at a time when both were considered taboo. Baldwin exemplifies the idea of using creativity to lead social change, and his work has certainly influenced my dissertation interest.

About Maurice Harris

According to Maurice Harris, leading organizations is not so different from producing pop music, and he credits his early experiences in the recording industry for his proven skills in leadership communication. Today, Maurice serves as diocesan communications minister for the Episcopal Church in Vermont, responsible for supporting 46 congregations as well as several diocesan institutions, including Rock Point, a 130-acre sanctuary on the shores of Lake Champlain. In addition to his communications role, Maurice serves as co-facilitator of the diocese’s Racial Reconciliation Team. Outside of the church, Maurice is president and creative director of Pushpop Media, a boutique agency that provides marketing and communication services predominately for women- and minority-owned businesses and non-profits in Ohio and Maine. Prior to launching Pushpop Media, Maurice worked for several years as head of the communications and media relations departments at FirstGroup America, parent company of Greyhound, First Student, First Transit, and First Vehicle Services. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Northwood University, a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from the College of Mount St. Joseph, and is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Ethical and Creative Leadership at Union Institute & University. Always a musician at heart, Maurice’s dissertation interest is in using music as a leadership tool for creating positive social change. Maurice and his husband, Might Kirachaiwanich, reside in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Explore how you can inspire others in the MLK Studies Specialization. Click below!

Leadership Spotlight – Rev. Owen C. Cardwell Jr., Ph.D.

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Dr. Owen Cardwell Jr.

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.

In recognition of MLK Day, January 15, 2018, and Union’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Studies Specialization, alumnus Dr. Owen Cardwell Jr. shares his insights on leadership that started when he was 14 and one of two African-American students to integrate a Lynchburg, Virginia high school in 1962. He was only 15 when he sat at the feet of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Cardwell has been in the ministry for over 45 years and is the founder and pastor of New Canaan International Church. He has worked tirelessly to address the breakdown of the family and increase father involvement as a solution to many social ills including poverty, poor health outcomes, academic underachievement, crime abuse and a growing financial commitment from taxpayers.

In the Q&A below, Dr. Cardwell shares how he has used leadership to improve the lives of families and communities.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. Leadership is person centered. Leadership is process centered. Leadership is purpose centered. The three have to be in tandem. Leadership must engage the collective wisdom of the community. An individual may have to be a catalyst but a collaborative approach must be taken to lead.

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

A. I was one of two African-American students to integrate a Lynchburg, Virginia high school in 1962. I helped to desegregate local restaurants and other places that would not serve African-Americans. I have been jailed. Dr. King blessed us by coming to Lynchburg in those early days, before motels accepted African-Americans. He stayed at the home of a local dentist and at 15 I sat on the floor at his feet and listened to his message.

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

A. The twin demons of mass incarceration and the opioid crisis is a scourge in our region and nation. Our church, New Canaan International Church, brings inmates who are on work release to church every Sunday. We pick them up from the local jail and have worship with them, provide a meal and fatherhood training. After four weeks they can invite their families to join us.

We are the only church in the nation that has started this program and we are in the process of replicating the program to other churches nationwide.

The incarcerated have always had a heart in my ministry. I was at the forefront of proposing video conferencing visitation for inmates at one of the Virginia Department of Corrections facilities. The program has expanded to four visitor centers and ten prisons in Virginia, touching the lives of over 2,000 family members and more than 650 inmates.

I reach out to youth and families through the Heroes and Dreams Academy where I serve as executive director. Our mission is to encourage and empower youth to reframe their life narrative to transition into responsible adulthood.

Q. What leader do you admire most and why?

A. Dr. King and my long term mentor Dr. Virgil Wood. Dr. Wood is a young 86 and still a giant in civil rights. Dr. Wood recommended Union to me.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. The impossible is what nobody can do until somebody does it.

 

*Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

About Dr. Owen Cardwell Jr.

Dr. Cardwell is a pastor, civil rights activist and social service advocate. He is the founder and pastor of New Canaan International Church in North Richmond, VA. He’s on the leadership team for Reaching Flood Stage and the Executive Director and founder of Heroes and Dreams Academy.

Dr. Cardwell is the author of “Ministry with Prisoners and Families-The Way Forward and Giant Killer.” He proposed a demonstration project to provide video conferencing visitation for inmates at one of the Virginia Department of Corrections facilities (Wallens Ridge State Prison). The program was accepted and launched in April 2006. The program has expanded to four visitor centers and ten prisons in Virginia. In its first four years, this program alone touched the lives of over 2,000 family members and more than 650 inmates and has a successful track record assisting targeted families to maintain connectivity with their incarcerated loved ones.

He is married to Flora S. Cardwell and the father of four children. Dr. Cardwell received a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies concentration is Ethical and Creative Leadership with a specialization in Martin Luther King studies from Union Institute & University.

Dare to dream and inspire others with a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Studies Specialization. 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.

Staff Spotlight – Jean McKiernan

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Jean McKiernan

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.”

This month the spotlight is on Jean McKiernan who is retiring from UI&U after a stellar 31+ year career. She joined the UI&U community on November 5, 1986 when it was named “The Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities” and Dr. Bob Conley was president. She served under four presidents and eleven Cincinnati Center Deans. Jean has held many positions with Union including, Administrative Assistant in the Gantz Center, Learner Services Coordinator, Assistant to the Dean, and Associate Registrar.

In the words of Registrar Lew Rita Moore, Jean has become synonymous with “Union Historian”, “Degree Plans”, World Traveler”, “Sailing Woman”, “Loyal Colleague” and “Friend”. Continue to read about Jean and her extraordinary career and life in the Q&A below.

Jean, Happy Retirement!

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

A. My years in higher education have allowed me to witness the transformative effect of a college degree. I’ve seen single mothers enter Union and against all odds graduate and become an inspiration for their children; I’ve seen people with tunnel-vision awakened to a wider world by exposure to general education courses; I’ve seen the future of entire families changed by their Union graduates. One of my joys in education has been assisting in Union’s national commencement by helping vest and line up the undergrads. Robing the BA/BS graduates was the last thing I could do for them as they left Union and moved on.

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

A. Education offers the chance for folks to alter their lives – and sometimes that means not only the students but also the people who work in the field. Some friendships I developed in the 80s and 90s with former students and faculty have carried on to the present day.

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

A. I’ve enjoyed my years at Union and thank former Cincinnati Dean Katherine Cannon and the memory of 80s registrar Margaret Towe for seeing what a good fit Union and I would be.

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. I’m never quite comfortable on an airplane. I am an avid reader, traveler, and sailing woman. Reading has often been the impetus for visiting far-off places, which can be difficult for someone uneasy on long flights. Yet I’ve seen the Chateau d’If, walked on Culloden Battlefield, visited the Forbidden City, crossed the Straits of Magellan, gone to mass in a pope’s private chapel, and prayed at both the Western Wall and Al Aqsa Mosque.

In my forties, I became part of a group of women who wanted to learn to sail. We mastered the terminology, charting, and how to handle a sailboat without power. It can be intense, physical labor.

Each summer we would sail the Madeline, a 92 foot replica of a 1840s cargo schooner, for a week on one of the Great Lakes. We did this for 15 years, including one year when we were part of a Tall Ships parade on Lake Erie. My group of ‘Sailing Women’ is still great friends and get together socially for various events.

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I’m not sure I have a current favorite book. As an adolescent and teenager, I read “The Count of Monte Cristo” each summer. My love of reading led me to an interest in a wider world and began my desire to travel.

Q. What are your retirement plans?

A. In addition to cleaning out closets and volunteering at the local historical society, I want to find lists and then read what are considered the 100 best books ever written and watching the 100 best movies ever made. Additionally, my husband and I plan to use the U.S. presidents as a jumping off point for travel by visiting all of the presidents’ birthplaces, burial places and presidential libraries.

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