Inauguration of Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, Nov. 8, 2018. Photo by Chocolate Paper Studios
“A More Perfect Union” Dr. Karen Schuster Webb Is Inaugurated as Union Institute & University Sixth President
The inauguration of Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, the sixth president of Union Institute & University and the first African American woman to hold the office, took place on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at 4 p.m. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.
Drums for Peace led the procession of university delegates, faculty, staff, administration, students, and alumni followed by a rendition from Ragtime, “Let Them Hear You,” by Mr. Kent Overshown, accompanied on the piano by Mr. Billy Larkin. Christine van Duelmen, chair of the Board of Trustees, gave welcome and introductions. The Honorable Tamaya Dennard, Cincinnati City Council, President Pro Tem proclaimed November 8, 2018 as President Karen Schuster Webb Day.
Ramona Laughing Brook Webb, daughter of Dr. and Mr. Wallace Webb, recited “Remember,” a poem by Joy Harjo of the Msvkoke/Creek Nation in honor Dr. Webb’s Creek Nation heritage. Members of the academic community and representatives from Southwestern Ohio Consortium for Higher Education, GC3, American Council on Education’s Women’s Network of Ohio, and others gave greetings and welcomed President Webb to her new position. Union’s Board of Trustees issued the presidential charges, and presented the presidential medallion and the university mace to Dr. Webb.
Dr. Webb’s “A More Perfect Union” inaugural address outlined her vision to continue Union’s distinguished social justice legacy as a world-class university. She urged the community to seek out Union, not only for academic degrees and certificates, but to engage with Union faculty, staff, alumni, and students to seek solutions to the world’s challenges.
Her Excellency, Dr. Hassana Alidou, ambassador from the Republic of Niger to the United States delivered the keynote address at the dinner following the installation ceremony. The dinner launched the new Union Institute for Social Justice, being developed to provide innovative and practical solutions that advance four broad goals: secure change through civil discourse; foster economic and social equity through education; defend opportunity and social justice in all our communities; and promote a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international community through engagement. Dr. Alidou urged the audience to continue Union’s mission of transforming lives and communities, and spoke of her personal journey, mentored and encouraged by Dr. Webb.
President Webb took office as president on July 1, 2018. 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. She brings more than 20 years of executive leadership and an impressive career in higher education, most recently as the 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, 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.
Dr. Webb is chair of the American Council on Education’s Women’s Network Executive Council (WNEC), Washington, D.C. She also served on the ACE Northern California Women’s Network for more than 10 years and held both vice chair and chair positions there. She has earned numerous awards, including Teacher of the Year by the California School of Education doctoral students at Alliant International University, and was selected in 2016 as one of the Top 25 Women in Higher Education and Beyond by Diverse Issues In Higher Education Magazine, honoring her commitment to and advocacy for diversity, inclusion, and mentoring. Dayton Magazine profiled her for their leadership series. Moreover, she serves on the Advisory Board of William V. S. Tubman University Foundation in Harper, Liberia, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.
Dr. Webb earned her B.A. degree in Spanish, her M.S. in Education: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages/Applied Linguistics, and her Ph.D. in English Education: Second Language Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.
Dr. Webb succeeds President Roger H. Sublett who was president of Union Institute & University from 2003 until June 2018 when he retired.