In July, 122 participants—including Ph.D. and Ed.D. students, staff and faculty—from all over the country and Ghana made the “pilgrimage” to Cincinnati for Union Institute & University’s doctoral residency. The seven-day event was hosted at the Kingsgate Marriott near Union’s Cincinnati Academic Center.
Shay McFarland, Senior Administrative Assistant and Residency Coordinator for the Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, said that this was one of the most successful residencies she has seen yet. “Overall I felt that it was one of the best residencies,” she said. “Students really engaged with each other—even the new students. Usually when new students come in, they don’t engage with everyone because they’re trying to get to know each other and their own cohort. But this time, Cohort 18 convinced Cohort 19 to get involved and they were there at all the events.”
Geri Maples, Union’s Veterans Service Coordinator, attended the residency as a first year doctoral student. The element that was most encouraging to her was the support from the previous year’s cohort. “Being able to interact with them and learn from their experience was so helpful,” Geri said. “Meeting and getting to know my cohort members was, and still is, a blessing. All of us have grown so close and we are each other’s cheerleaders. We keep each other on track and have done so since day one. Meeting our professors and getting to know them was so valuable as well. It is so very important to make that connection from the start. It helps to ease any fears or doubts that one may be having.”
Dr. Michael A. Raffanti, Associate Dean of the Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program, agrees that one of the primary benefits of the residency is the chance to strengthen those support networks. “The connections with peers and the support they offer often sustain students through the sometimes lonely process of writing a dissertation,” he said.
Union Institute & University’s doctoral program is grounded in humanistic inquiry. The four majors within the Ph.D. program incorporate interdisciplinary fields of study to advance the understanding of ethics, the creative process, and the possibilities of institutional and social change. The four majors of the program are Educational Studies, Ethical & Creative Leadership, Humanities & Culture, and Public Policy & Social Change.
Union Ph.D. students move through their doctoral program as members of a cohort. This model leads to the formation of academic communities among students and faculty.
Through the program’s low-residency requirement, students can participate in face-to-face, extended conferences that occur each January and July. The residency conferences are exciting events that strengthen the mentoring relationship between doctoral faculty and their students, as well as the camaraderie among the members of each cohort.
In addition to orientation meetings and seminar classes, the residency also features a Social Justice presentation. This July, the Social Justice presentation was delivered by Dr. Eric Hannel who discussed his doctoral research on the Lumbee, Native American population.