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Union Institute & University

Inauguration Of Dr. Karen Schuster Webb

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The inauguration of Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, the sixth president of Union Institute & University will take place on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 at 4 p.m. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati located at 50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Dr. Webb is the sixth president in Union’s 54-year history, and the first African American woman to hold the office. She is a visionary leader with a passion for community and mentoring women in leadership, having dedicated her career to the equity of access to educational excellence in the United States, as well as around the world.

The inauguration program will include welcome remarks from a number of university delegates and Dr. Webb’s colleagues, as well as greetings from the faculty, staff, administration, students, and alumni of Union Institute & University. Trustees will issue the presidential charges, and present the presidential medallion and the university mace as Dr. Webb takes office. Also included are a musical offering and a poem recitation to honor Dr. Webb’s Creek Nation heritage. Dr. Webb’s inaugural address is titled, “A More Perfect Union.”

Following the inauguration, a dinner and keynote address will launch the Union Institute for Social Justice. The speaker is Her Excellency, Dr. Hassana Alidou, ambassador from the Republic of Niger to the United States. She is an educator and diplomat, and internationally known for her work in guiding community-based organizations, national governments and international institutions, including UNESCO and the World Bank.

Union alumni and students from around the world will be able to participate through a live feed provided the day of the event. Stay tuned to Union’s social media pages (@myunionedu) for more details.

President Webb took office as president on July 1, 2018, after a national search was conducted to replace retiring President Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D., who served as Union’s president for 15 years. Chair of the UI&U Board of Trustees, Ms. Christine van Duelmen said Dr. Webb is ideally suited to lead Union. “She has the background and experience to lead our university forward, in her words ‘to a more perfect Union,’ and is committed to Union’s mission and values to engage, enlighten and empower individuals to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.”

Prior to her appointment as president, Dr. Webb served as Midwest campus president and senior advisor for Academic Innovation to the Chancellor at the Antioch University System. She also served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Antioch University Midwest Campus. Prior to her work at Antioch University, Dr. Schuster Webb served at Alliant International University System from 2000 to 2013, where she was founding university dean of the California School of Education, overseeing programs in California, Mexico, and the Far East, as well as online programs. She was also associate provost for Community Engagement at Alliant from 2009 to 2013. Click here to learn more about Dr. Schuster Webb.

The public is invited to attend the inauguration. RSVP here.

Discover your new career path today!

The Higher Education Journey Together

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Married couple Antwan and Daniel Mckenzie-Plez took the higher education journey together. “Chasing our career dreams with each other added a layer of support I didn’t expect,” said Daniel. “Our mantra was we can do this.”

That foundation paid off when Antwan and Daniel graduated at national commencement on October 6, 2018. Antwan with his M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling Graduate Certificate and Daniel with his B.S. in Business Administration.

Both chose Union to pursue career dreams.

“My grandaunt, Earlene Gilmore-Solomon, is an alumna of Union. She took over the role of grandmother to me. She taught special education for 40 years and inspired me to give of myself,” said Antwan.

Antwan credits his degree from Union for his career. “I am pursuing my passion to work with developmentally disabled adults. The drug abuse in this group is overlooked because there has been little to no research in this area. I am working to influence policy to help these individuals. The CMHC major requires an internship and now I am employed fulltime in a career where I can help people,” said Antwan.

Daniel wants to climb the corporate ladder and be a CEO.

“My professors made me believe in myself. They were the first to point out how much I bring to the table,” said Daniel. “Because of them, I am in a new job and better pay scale. My employer is impressed with the skills I offer.”

Antwan and Daniel have found that a degree from Union builds a career that is true to Union’s mission to engage, enlighten, and empower.

Discover your new career path today!

Distinguished Alumni Award Presentation

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The International Alumni Association Board (IAAB) bestowed the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award to Virginia R. Wiltse, Ph.D. (2000) at the Homecoming celebration on October 5, 2018.

Dr. Virginia Wiltse is a most deserving recipient of this award, having distinguished herself and Union Institute & University through her generous and selfless service and visionary leadership of a variety of organizations and agencies, both in the U.S. and abroad. A member of Union Institute & University’s Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2015 (and chair from 2012-2014), she also served with the SC Ministry Foundation Board of Trustees, Seton High School Board of Trustees, the Children’s Heart Association Board of Trustees, the Association of Enneagram Teachers in the Narrative Tradition, the Order of Malta, and St. Xavier Parish, Cincinnati.

“It is truly an honor to be singled out as a distinguished Union alumna. Union Institute & University has transformed so many lives. Mine is but one of thousands. My experience at Union was, in every way, transformative and there is a clear link between what I studied at Union and who I have become since my graduation from the Ph.D. Program in 2000,” said Dr. Wiltse. “I love Union. All the efforts to serve it for which I am being honored tonight are simply my efforts to repay what I gained here. The experience of Union changed me. For that I will be forever grateful.”

She has received numerous awards, including: Exemplar Award from the Notre Dame Club of Cincinnati with son David; Bene Merenti Medal for service to the Church and poor of Madagascar; numerous citations of appreciation from Government of Madagascar, Ministries of Health and Education; Bayley Diamond Tribute Award with husband Dave Wiltse, M.D.; Mother Seton Award for service to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati; and Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year honoree.

It is her work both for Union and for Caring Response Madagascar Foundation that singled her out as the recipient of the award.

Dr. Wiltse, among her other major achievements, has been instrumental in securing two major gifts – among the largest in the university’s history – to support graduate students: the Virginia Ruehlmann Women in Union Scholarship grant from the Helen Steiner Rice Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, created to honor Dr. Wiltse’s mother; and the Eugene P. Ruehlmann Fellowship for Public Service, funded by the Western & Southern Financial Fund, created to honor and further the contributions of Dr. Wiltse’s father, longtime Cincinnati mayor, Eugene P. Ruehlmann.

Dr. Wiltse directs the operations and fundraises for Caring Response Madagascar, the charity founded by her son, David Wiltse. As vice-chair, she engages volunteers, including medical and nursing staff, to impact not only education and literacy for the unschooled and inadequately schooled, but also to help with environmental issues, disasters, healthcare, literacy, economic self-development, nutrition, sanitation, and saving the lives of mothers and babies. Since 2002, more than 122,000 adults have completed the CRMF literacy program. In 2006, CRMF funded the regions’ first computer training center, where 5,000 young adults have completed technology-training programs.

Through her visionary and selfless leadership and hands-on implementation, Dr. Wiltse is breathing life into Union’s vision to transform lives and communities, and exemplifying her alma mater’s mission by inspiring others to become engaged, enlightened, and empowered to lead a life of learning, service, and social responsibility.

Discover how a degree from Union can transform your life and community!

Mother and Son Graduate Together

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Mother and son June and Blake Martinez graduated together at National Commencement on Saturday, October 6, 2018, each with a Doctor of Psychology with a major in Clinical Psychology. Both practice together at Harbor Psychological Associates.

June, a psychologist of 13 years, stated that her “children’s interest in their education seemed to increase as I pursued mine. The excitement of learning is definitely catchy.”

Blake remembers supportive and open conversations growing up. “We could talk about our feelings without the fear of being shut down. I have always been interested in relationship dynamics, even as a child much of my play was rehearsing complex social dynamics. I worked in a psychiatric hospital and considered medical school, but I wanted to spend more time with clients to facilitate growth and help people unburden themselves.”

June, who has two master’s degrees, chose to attend Union to expand her learning. “For me, going back for my doctorate was more about gaining greater knowledge in my field that could impact the quality of my work. The professors were amazing and the experience of an intimate learning environment coupled with amazing literature was beyond my expectations. I appreciated the social justice and diversity underpinnings.”

June recommended Union to Blake. “What my mother described to me about Union sounded like what I wanted. The rich context and small group discussions were right for me. My professors felt like mentors rather than teachers.”

What’s next? “I am thrilled that Blake joined me at Union and that he has joined me in practice. I have another son who will join us soon. Life is good.”

Blake is glad to be in this profession. “I think my degree will open doors for me, and my day to day job is consistent with my deeper values and who I want to be in this world.”

Discover your new career path today!

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Spotlight on Dr. Rand Oliver

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Dr. Rand Oliver

National Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportune time to shine the spotlight on Dr. Rand Oliver, National Dean of UI&U. His grandmother’s family hailed from Spain and he is proud of his Hispanic heritage. Rand’s great grandfather, Charles Francisco, was a lawyer and judge in Wisconsin. In addition to his duties at UI&U, Rand serves as Vice President of the Dayton, Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Union serves a more than 25% undergraduate Hispanic adult learner population and is the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division.

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

A. I am a lifelong learner. I inherited the fervor for adult higher education by watching my parents complete their educations. My father graduated from university in 1987 with his BBA. A year later I received my MBA from the same school. My father was career military and my siblings and I watched him study his correspondence courses at night at the kitchen table when he was home. He was always taking classes. My mother was the same way. She went to work in the cafeteria after my youngest sister started elementary school. She was the “cafeteria lady”. She took classes and worked her way up to manager of a school and ultimately to food service director for a school district in Texas. She also taught her colleagues through an area college program. I had excellent role models that believe in higher education.

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

A. Our students come to us with passion to make change. Union teaches truth. Union’s message to educate adults is one I respect. I am also excited to be part of Union president Dr. Karen Schuster Webb’s vision to create new opportunities for students, faculty, staff, the communities we serve, and to seek new opportunities to serve throughout the world.

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. I am truly an introvert, while being seen as enthusiastic and action oriented. I re-charge my batteries through my reading, art, family activities, and home projects.

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

A. I am in the best job. I get to be around incredible people doing meaningful work changing lives for the good. How awesome is that?

Q. What is your favorite quote?

A. Fredrick Douglas said he wasn’t free until he could read. Education frees. I am also an admirer of Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I am an avid reader, sometimes as many as five books in a week and couldn’t choose a favorite book. But I have an office full of good to great ones. Come by and borrow a book.

Explore the academic program that helps you move ahead in your career today!

A Special Hooding Ceremony

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It’s not every day that your mother hoods you for graduation, but that is what Gustav A. Otto will experience at national commencement on October 6, 2018 when Gus graduates with a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Ethical & Creative Leadership. The Ph.D. candidate’s mother, Dr. Sharon E. Trekell, just happens to be a Union Ph.D. alumna.

Both were attracted to Union for its interdisciplinary program and commitment to social justice.

“Mom suggested that I look at Union because I was having little success in finding what I wanted in a graduate program,” said Gus, former professor of practice at National Defense University, Distinguished Chair for Defense Intelligence at Army University, and adjunct for the National Intelligence University. After retiring from the United States Air Force Reserves, in consultation with his wife, he knew it was time to pursue his Ph.D. “I was also impressed with the focus on social justice. I always say, I came to Union for the curriculum, but stayed for the culture of social justice.”

Gus’s mother, Dr. Trekell, a professor of psychology, and founder and director of Inner Well Institute, echoes that sentiment. “Gus and I share the quest to improve lives. I enjoyed the diversity and background of my committee. I also remember the deep and profound learning I experienced at Union.”
Sharon has been healing society for 50 years. Gus is just starting that path. “My journey is just beginning. I hope I can be a paradigm of healing through the understanding of diversity and equality,” said Gus. “I see my mom in that trail.”

Their advice to Union students is to follow their passion and don’t procrastinate. Get it done!

What will it be like for mother to watch her son graduate? “The thrill of a lifetime. I have always been incredibly proud of Gus as a son and a scholar. I don’t think I will be able to keep from crying.”

Gus says he will cry. “Commencement is a cry worthy event.”

Follow your passion towards lifelong learning!

2018 National Commencement Welcomes Dr. Cynthia Cherrey

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Union Institute & University National Commencement is Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza in downtown Cincinnati.

Graduating together is a son and mother, a married couple, a father hooding his son, and a mother hooding her son.

Union Ph.D. alumna Dr. Sharon E. Trekell will hood her son Gustav A. Otto and experience the joy of watching him follow her path with a Ph.D. “This is the thrill of a lifetime. I have always been incredibly proud of Gus as a son and a scholar. I don’t think I will be able to keep from crying.”

Married couple Antwan and Daniel McKenzie-Plez encouraged each other when the educational journey became stressful. “We found a strength and balance together that galvanized us forward,” said Daniel.

Dr. Cynthia Cherrey is the keynote. She is the president and CEO of the International Leadership Association (ILA), a global organization for people who practice, study and teach leadership. Her interests and research explore new ways to live, work, and lead in a knowledge-driven, interdependent world. Recently she participated in a podcast series for Voice America’s business channel on global leadership with Maureen Metcalf, host of Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations. A sought-after advisor, Cynthia serves on the editorial boards of Asian Women and the President’s Advisory Group at Carnegie Mellon University. She is a Fellow at the World Business Academy, a Royal Society of the Arts Fellow, a former senior fellow at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship.

Degrees will be bestowed in the following areas: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Doctor of Psychology with a major in Clinical Psychology.

Union is sought after by adults because of its 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. Union also has a long history of serving diverse populations: Minorities (44 percent), women (55 percent), and an older, adult population (average age of 37) and interweaves social justice in its curriculum.

Find your new career path today!

Leadership Spotlight – At 64, James Blake McHenry Follows His Passion

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Blake McHenry

Spotlight: Leadership Spotlight on James Blake McHenry (B.S. Business Management 2012 and current student in the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling major.

Title/Profession: Professional coach and clinical counselor trainee

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 James Blake McHenry shares his leadership insights. Blake is a Union alumni and current student who says he started his career backward. After 30 plus years in corporate America as a sales and human resources executive, he decided at the age of 55 that he wanted to be a life coach and counselor. He came back to Union and enrolled in the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling major. He is now in his internship phase and graduates in the spring of 2019 at the age of 64. This spotlight completes our focus on the passion and purpose of the students and faculty in Union’s CMHC and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate programs for National Recovery Month.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. Leadership is the ability to lead teams to develop results. You know you are doing a good job when the team members model the leader’s behavior. That development differentiates a leader.

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

A. I always looked for the potential in others, almost before they could see potential in themselves. I wanted to know the aspirations of the people who worked for me. Many times, I gave the chance for new opportunities to people who were not deemed manager material and I watched them flourish.

Q. What leader do you admire most and why?

A. I admire many leaders. In my professional life, I admire Mark King, former CEO at TaylorMade Golf Company. Mark is a remarkable person and leader who told us to enjoy the tough days as well as the bad days because there is always opportunity.

On a global scale, I admire Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. My personal mantra is to make meaningful contributions daily.

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

A. When I was head of sales, I had a series of moments when I realized this is a tough job. There is so much complexity in the job. I thought WOW. Yet, I knew I could do the job.

Combine your passion and purpose to help others.

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Spotlight on Ana Elisa Baratta

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Dr. Ana Baratta

Spotlight: Dr. Ana Elisa Baratta

Title/Profession: Learning Specialist Coordinator Rinella Learning Center’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program at Miami University and student in the Union M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC).

Union is proud to serve a more than 25% undergraduate Hispanic adult learner population and to be the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division.

This celebration is an opportune time to shine the spotlight on Dr. Ana Elisa Baratta. Ana is a native of El Salvador and a licensed psychologist in El Salvador. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Educational Psychology with a minor in Counseling from Indiana University in 2003 and 2012 respectively.

Ana is enrolled at Union to follow her dream to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders? Find out more in the Q&A below.

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

A. My degree will allow me to reach three goals. 1. To work in the Latino community counseling in Spanish. 2. Create mental health awareness programs for schools and other entities. 3. Work in private practice.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I was led to this program because of Union’s commitment to social justice. Every course includes a social justice component. Also, the personalized study that Union offers can’t be matched.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Union has been a godsend. I am a wife, mother, and fulltime employee. Only Union respected my many commitments and understood I had to have flexibility with my courses.

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

A. Don’t worry about what other people think.

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

A. My parents never went to college but they instilled in me the importance of education. They supported all of my dreams. My husband has always been very supportive and understanding.

If you have a deep desire to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders, enroll today in the M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) and/or Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate Program.

A Life of Purpose

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Amy Stenger-Sullivan

Spotlight: Union Alumna Amy Stenger-Sullivan M.A., L.P.C.

Title/Profession: Affiliated Faculty, Union Institute & University, Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice at Restoring Hope Counseling and Coaching, Inc.

Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Amy Stenger-Sullivan is living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment through her commitment to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders. September is also National Recovery Month and offers the opportunity to highlight the passion and purpose of the students, alumni and faculty in the M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate.

Learn why Amy says her job fills her heart in the Q & A below.

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

A. Earning my master’s degree at this stage of my life while working full time in a job, which required travel, was a big feat for me! I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Professionally, I am grateful to be working at a job that fills my heart and contributes to the well-being of others. My advisor and professors at Union supported and encouraged me, which has led to an increase in my confidence. I am forever grateful for that.

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

A. I admire the commitment of my professors and Union’s support of the nontraditional learner.

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

A. Take advantage of everything Union has to offer. Union gathers wonderful people together, both educators and learners, to advance all.

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

A. I am grateful I get to live what I feel is my life’s purpose: to listen to another with deep compassion. This seems to open up a space for them to begin their healing journey in earnest. I’m glad I listened to that little nudge to make a career shift in the half time of my life.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. Spending time with my family, kayaking, cooking and reading.

Today is the day to discover a career as a professional counselor. A Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is within your reach.