We are fast approaching the end of another year at Union Institute & University. In many ways, 2014 has been a remarkable year for this unique university. We have had an opportunity to celebrate our collective journey over the last 50 years, and in the process, we recognized many of those who came before us, acknowledging their contributions to the life of Union and communities everywhere.
Union’s founding president, Dr. Sam Baskin, stated in 1964, “We want to change the face of American higher education.” Certainly, Union, over the last 50 years, has been in the forefront of doing just that. Many of you have heard me say that our founders actually understood the potential of online learning prior to the invention of the technology to support it. Early funding came from The Carnegie Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Kettering Foundation to move higher education forward into a bold new world. What a remarkable legacy we have at Union and how thankful we are for the confidence and support of such prestigious external organizations as the three who early on invested in a vision of change. Now, what wonderful opportunities we have in front of us as we prepare to launch into Union’s second 50 years. This is our moment in time to build on the legacy of our founders, and the faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni who came before us.
Over the years, Union and its people have been change agents in a number of sectors, particularly higher education. Many of you may not know that Change Magazine, which for many years created the standard for progress in higher education, was founded at Union and was ultimately absorbed by the American Council on Education and the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. Union was one of the original founders of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, a leading organization now linking adult learning with work. And, Union was the founder and one of the early adopters of the University Without Walls, as well as a pioneer in creating alternative approaches to degree completion at the bachelors and doctoral levels. The one constant in the life of Union has been “change” and that will continue to be our focus as we work toward transforming lives and communities in future years. As one of our trustees is fond of saying, “Union is the Lewis & Clark of higher education, focusing on discovering new horizons.” Change is in Union’s DNA and our goal for the future is to create and foster visions for change!
I am honored to have been a part of two organizations that helped transform higher education over the last 60 years: Union Institute & University and The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). The Kellogg Foundation provided early funding for the community college movement in the 1950s, established centers for adult education throughout the U.S. and one in Oxford, England. WKKF also funded the construction of #1 Dupont Circle, a center for higher education in Washington, D.C., where many national higher education organizations are still housed. Thus, it is only fitting that WKKF provided the initial funding for our scholarship program, Women in Union, in 2009. While the Kellogg Foundation is not focusing as much on higher education today, Union and WKKF do share a common mission of social justice and transforming lives and communities.
It is a wonderful time to be at Union. Collectively and individually, we have a wonderful opportunity to serve and build on the solid foundation of the first 50 years and the creativity of all who have come before us. Change can be our friend and our future. Let us embrace change with confidence, courage, and eager anticipation for a bright, successful future for all!
Thank you for all you have done for Union in 2014. I wish for each of you and your families a most wonderful and joyous holiday season!
Roger H. Sublett
Union Institute & University