Meet the Faculty Award winners

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Congratulations are being sent to Dr. Sarah Bergh and Dr. Annie Lee on receiving the 2020 Union Institute & University Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and Certificate of Distinction for Teaching, respectively.

The Faculty Awards program are especially gratifying for the recipients because they provide peer recognition for exemplary efforts and achievements in the areas of teaching, service, and scholarship.

Dr. Bergh, the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching, is the Assistant Director of the Master of Arts program, and teaches in both the master’s program and General Education program.

She was nominated by the Master of Arts Online faculty who wrote, “She is a valuable asset to Union, a teacher in the widest sense: both as a beloved guide in the classroom and also someone who uses her administrative role as a way to teach and guide students through the program and into the world beyond. She is committed to the success of each of her students, working individually to help them pursue their particular passions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In her five years of teaching at Union, she has consistently received high praise from her students. Many note how much they appreciate the time she takes to give them individualized feedback. Her undergraduate students mention that they find the course material and her passion for it inspiring and applicable to their professional and personal lives, while her Master of Arts students find the course gives them the confidence to move forward with their graduate programs.”

Dr. Bergh is honored by the recognition by her fellow faculty members.

“Union’s faculty are incredibly dedicated to their students and the university. They have consistently set a high bar for teaching, practice, and service,” said Dr. Bergh. “The three things I most enjoy about teaching at Union are the variety of backgrounds and perspectives our students bring to discussions; our small class size, which gives me a chance to engage with each student; and the supportive faculty I work with in my departments and on committees.”

Dr. Lee is the recipient of the Certificate of Distinction for Teaching and is a professor in the General Education program.

She was nominated by the B.S. General Education faculty. Dr. Tom Frederick, chair, wrote, “She is a rising star on our faculty. When I review responses from students on her student surveys, I see mostly perfection. When I review her classes, I see excellence. Her courses are appealing and she transformed a course shell that was adequate into a course shell that is excellent. Of particular note, she included digital literacy within existing courses, transforming traditional paper file upload to a digital product. With her coaching, students are now challenged to present this assignment as a mini-documentary, a podcast, photojournalism project, and Power Point presentation. This assignment gives students a skill set for other courses, but also added a viable component to each student’s resume.”

Dr. Lee is honored to be recognized by her peers and the Union community.

“As an instructor at Union, I continue to be inspired by my students and their unique lived experiences that inform their understanding of our social world. I am very grateful to be a part of their intellectual journeys as they strive to achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals.”

The Faculty Awards program, established by UI&U’s Faculty Council, recognizes that all Union faculty members exhibit commendatory effort on behalf of their students and their professions, and provides an opportunity for faculty members to recognize, on a regular basis, exemplary efforts on behalf of their peers.

Today is the day to explore how a Union degree can change your career path. Click here to learn more.

Union Institute & University National Virtual Commencement Announces U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis is Keynote Speaker

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U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis

Union Institute & University National Virtual Commencement is Sunday, October 25, 2020, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern/11a.m. Pacific.

The celebration marks the hard work of our graduating class who have completed their degrees while working, taking care of their families, and staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.

While the virtual ceremony became necessary because of the worldwide corona virus pandemic, it will be no less memorable and will allow families to gather safely and participate from around the globe. The graduation will celebrate each student as their photograph in regalia, earned degree and a short quote is projected. The slides can be shared via social media. Additionally, each student has the opportunity to post a short ‘selfie’ video that will be included in the ceremony’s broadcast. Immediately following the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates will be able to enter Zoom Chat Rooms customized to their degree and major, and where they can join fellow graduates and faculty.

The program will open with a performance by the renowned Soul Children of Chicago, under the direction of Mr. Walter Whitman. The Reverend Dr. M. Merritt Worthen, a 2020 graduate of Union’s Ph.D. program and Senior Pastor at College Hill Community Church in Dayton, Ohio will deliver the invocation.

President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb and Provost Dr. Nelson Soto will deliver greetings and host the ceremony. Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Edgar L. Smith Jr. will confer the degrees upon the graduates representing six degree programs from undergraduate to doctoral degrees.

Keynote speaker is the Honorable Danny K. Davis, who earned his Ph.D. from Union in 1977. U.S. Congressional Representative Davis has served as the U.S. Representative from Illinois’s Seventh Congressional District since 1996. He has spent his life championing social justice and is a servant leader whose life parallels Union’s mission to transform lives and communities. The congressman is a champion for higher education and the pursuit of equity of access to educational excellence and has dedicated his career to the advancement of racial, ethnic, and underrepresented populations in higher education. He is resolutely committed to preserving our democracy, protecting social security, maintaining our nation’s gains in civil and human rights, women’s rights, voting rights, protection of the environment, consumer and labor protections, ensuring quality, affordable health care for all while maintaining his long term focus on issues of job creation, poverty, health care, education, youth and criminal justice reform.

Congressman Davis also serves on the Committee on Ways and Means and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, the Urban Caucus, Community Health Center’s Caucus, Congressional Sugar Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Re-entry.

More than 112 students will participate, representing more than 400 students who have earned degrees in the following areas: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Master of Education, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Other highlights include the following:

Marvin B. Sussman Award for Excellence in Dissertation recipients:

  • Linda Kligman, PhD., “Widening Circles: A Grounded Theory Study of Workplace Leadership.”
  • Kathryn Turley-Sonne, PhD., “Curating the Contemporary Art Witch Movement.”
  • Honorable mention Allison Budaj, PhD.
  • Honorable mention Emery Francois, PhD.

Brian Webb Award for Outstanding Master of Arts Thesis recipients:

  • Adrienne Dyslin, Creativity Studies, “The Influence of Chef Thomas Keller: A Culinary Creativity Case Study”
  • Miya Fowler, History & Culture, “Reaching Back, Feeling In, Dancing Forward: The Convergence of African Dance and Somatics for the Negotiation of Black Women’s Embodiment”
  • Grace Goodwin Dwyer, Health & Wellness, “Experience of Women Following a Low Carbohydrate Diet While Breastfeeding”
  • Petra Anne Roser, Literature & Writing, “The Female Narrative in Addiction Memoir”

Faculty Awards

Award for Excellence in Teaching

  • Sarah Bergh, PhD., Master of Arts Assistant Director/Faculty and Bachelor of Science, General Education

Certificate of Distinction

  • Annie Lee, PhD., Bachelor of Science, General Education affiliate

Mark Dunakin Memorial Awards for Extraordinary Achievement

  • Sergeant/Detective Marya Mason, B.S., 2020, Los Angeles Police Department
  • Detective James Tidwell, B.S., 2020, Sacramento County Sheriff Department

International Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award

  • Rudolph C. Ryser, Ph.D., 1996, CEO/Exec Director, Center for World Indigenous Studies

International Alumni Association Legacy Alumni Award

  • Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas, B.S., 2012

Recognition of veterans – Designated by wearing a special red, white, and blue honor cord, in recognition of their service to our country

Congratulations to our graduates. They now join the more than 20,000 alumni who continue to bring honor to Union’s mission to provide creative and achievable pathways and solutions for students to be engaged, enlightened, and empowered and to pursue a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

To learn more about National Commencement, click here.

Dr. Reagan Flowers is a trailblazer in STEM education

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Dr. Reagan Flowers (Ph.D. 2008) remembers well the day President Obama honored her as an African American STEM Champion of Change.

“Being honored by the White House as a pioneer in STEM education is one of the highlights of my career,” said Dr. Flowers, founder of C-STEM, the nation’s first integrated STEM enrichment program for Pre-K through 12th grade that focuses on implementing integrated STEM best practices into classrooms.

She certainly wouldn’t have predicted this success when she was a young child.

“I was labeled a slow learner. I was held back in second grade and promoted to fifth grade without knowing how to multiply,” explained Dr. Flowers. “Several caring teachers saw promise in me and started encouraging me and, thanks to them, I began to thrive. By my sixth grade school year, I made the honor roll and was described as a science wiz!”

This new-found confidence led her to a career in education, specifically as a science educator.

“I started my career teaching science. I wanted to offer my students hands-on experiences with real world problems. So, I started a robotics team. I was able to enroll the team in a national robotics competition, and they did very well,” said Dr. Flowers. “But the competition opened my eyes to the vast academic achievement gap between my students and their peers. That realization ignited a fire in me. I had to work to close the academic achievement gap and I had to change the way people visualize, conceptualize, and experience STEM.

The distinguishing factors of C-STEM pedagogy were integrating communications (literacy) in STEM to ensure students can read, comprehend, write, and articulate solutions to math and
science problems,” said Dr. Flowers.

As she set out, Dr. Flowers was not able to convince influencers to take her concept earnestly. She was told ”you’re just a high school teacher.” To be taken seriously, she had to achieve two things, first, be an expert in her area, and second, have the credentials to make appointments with decision makers.

She began to research schools where she could earn a doctorate. She credits finding Union with making her dream a reality and launching her career.

“Union listened to my idea to create a theory and action plan based on my childhood and professional experiences. They saw that I could write a doctoral dissertation that would explain my dream,” said Dr. Flowers. She was able to pursue her Ph.D. with a concentration in Educational Leadership Systems. She added a Specialization in Curriculum and Instruction.

“My Union degree validated me personally and professionally as an educator and researcher. I wanted to challenge the status-quo and Union supported my nontraditional research. But they also held me accountable. It was challenging to get accepted in the program and challenging to learn. Ironically, Ididn’t realize I was a nontraditional student, but I was. Union encouraged me and never put me in a box,” said Dr. Flowers.

You might say the rest is history.

She is the author of two books about STEM education. She was a finalist for a World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE) Award. She has been named to the list of 100 Women Leaders in STEM for her work towards bridging the STEM achievement gap impacting over 100,000 minorities and female students. Her philanthropic efforts have reached more than 42 countries with nearly $10 million in services delivered to underserved and underrepresented minority populations. She has led the cause to provide access to immeasurable information and economic opportunities.

She was recently appointed by the Houston Community College Board of Trustees as the Trustee for District IV. HCC has over 60,000 students and a budget of approximately 360 million. She is also president and CEO of C-STEM Teacher and Student Support Services, Inc. and serves as the Chief Knowledge Officer for Education Consulting Services, LLC.

She is thankful for her Union education and offers this advice to students.

“There are no shortcuts. You can’t rush it. Embrace the journey. Don’t get caught up in what other Ph.D. students are doing or did. You will earn this degree.” Away from her work, she enjoys cooking and the culinary experience. She loves to entertain and watch the reaction to the meals she has prepared. She and her husband love to travel and see the world.

But C-STEM is her heartbeat. As was noted when she received the Champions of Change Award from President Obama, her success is linked to three things: education, compassion, and an iron will to make a difference.

“I want to continue to inspire the next generation of innovators and thought leaders by engaging them in exciting hands-on projects, solving real world problems to encourage entry into the talent pipeline, bolster self-confidence, and foster a well-rounded mastery of the areas of communication, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Today is the day to explore how a Union degree can change your career path. Click here to learn more.

Native American chief remembered thanks to Union alumni

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After three years of research and archeological efforts, Union doctoral alumni Eric (Ph.D. 2014) and Karen Hannel (Ph.D. 2015), scholars of Native American history, discovered a Florida town named for Seminole Chief Chipco that had been long forgotten in history books.

Thanks to their research, the area is now designated with a marker as a Florida Heritage Site, forever recognizing the town of Chipco and its Seminole connection. Eric and Karen fought to establish the marker because it is important to remember the Seminole Native American culture, especially given the policies of the day, which included their removal and extermination.

“Decades of warfare and hostilities were designed to displace the Seminole from their farms and villages and reallocate that land to the settlers pouring into Florida,” explains Eric. “ By the 1850s, it was illegal for indigenous people to live in the state of Florida. Ten years later, the majority of Seminole had been murdered or forcibly removed to Oklahoma.

One of the two last remaining bands in Florida was led by Chipco. Because his group was no threat and hid in the swamps, it was not economical to pursue them. At this point in history, towns such as Chipco appear on the map. Named for a chief who had become, as a matter of survival, ‘a friend of the whites,’ the town of Chipco was built on land that had been cultivated for untold years by the Seminole. The avarice that allowed Florida to be colonized by dominant society ultimately turned upon itself to devour the town of Chipco. By stripping the land of its natural resources until it was a husk of its former self, leaving in its wake the haunting echo of flora and fauna driven into extinction, the town of Chipco folded and was condemned to the dustbin of history.

The only remnants of the town that survive are a handful of physical remains, such as a portion of the grist mill we located. We also found mentions of the existence of the town in snippets of letters and newspaper articles, which we tracked down. The descendants of Chief Chipco and his tiny band of Seminole, however, remain. Consolidated in South Florida, amidst the continued avarice of land developers and Big Sugar, the Seminole survive and offer by example a sustainable and respectful way of living in the natural world.”

Eric and Karen, who met at Union, are passionate about exposing injustice to Native Americans. They co-authored, “Amnesia, Anamnesis, and Myth-Making in Florida: A Case Study of Chipco,” published by the Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 98, Fall 2019. Drs. Hannel created the teacher’s guide to the Mountain of SGaana. They also have separate forthcoming articles in Rebus, a peer reviewed journal, and they are finalizing a book on indigenous stereotypes, which has already been accepted for publication.

“For me personally, the passion stems from my Lakota ancestry,” said Eric, who earned his Ph.D. in 2014 from Union, majoring in both Humanities & Culture and Public Policy & Social Change and was the recipient of the Marvin B. Sussman Dissertation Award. Eric is a Florida Master Naturalist instructor and is working on a Professional Restoration Certification and a National Geographic Educator’s Certification. “In 1880, my Lakota ancestor was living in Indiana with his white wife, young daughter, and another daughter on the way. Shortly after the census taker came through his community, my third great-grandfather disappeared without a trace. There is much speculation as to what happened to him, but all that remains from that Lakota line are the traditions his wife could pass down. I have additional Native American lines in my family, but their histories have also been impacted in large part to federal policies of ‘killing the Indian, to save the man [or woman].’  What remains are some traditions and stories handed down from those tribal connections and possible links to the Trail of Tears, the Trail of Death, and the Long Walk. Additionally, federal policies made it illegal to speak a native language, participate in native customs, wear native regalia, practice native religion or even have a non-Christian name, leaving it tremendously challenging to track down important family documentation.”

Karen, who graduated from Union in 2015, with a major in Humanities & Culture and was also the recipient of the Marvin B. Sussman Dissertation Award, is also an expert on World War I. She focuses on art and conflict. She is a published poet and photographer and the author of Lost Voices of the First World War in Irish Art and Literature (McFarland, forthcoming).

She “traces the smudged outline of the hollow spaces left by people and things that once existed, but which are no more. She looks for reminders, place names like Withlocochee and Chocochatti, that offer troublesome reminders of the bloody ground privilege is built upon. Be it the endangered gopher tortoise who provides a home under the earth’s surface for 350 other species in their capacious burrows or caregivers who labor quietly to carry on their backs the weight of the vulnerable, she tries to be an advocate and strong right arm,” said Eric.

With a goal of social justice, the Hannels started a company, Chipco Preserve LLC, in January 2020 to focus on natural resource education, restoration, and conservation. Both Hannels credit their degrees from Union for identifying them as serious scholars and advocates for social justice. They believe that yesterday’s issues become tomorrow’s problems, and tomorrow always becomes today. “We believe social justice includes not only human, but our more-than-human relatives, such as plants and animals, and it includes clean air, clean water, and more. As an extension of the work we do on Chipco Preserve, our outreach efforts  currently support tribal members and orphaned elders who are facing terrible hardship due to COVID-19. We are pursuing a grant to assist our efforts, but to address the many life-threatening issues on reservations, we are also considering a crowd-sourcing effort.”

The Hannels invite all of us to join their work. “Our problems are not just indigenous, or black or white, or the myriad of ethnicities that make up our country. They are ours…collectively. It takes courage to address the historic inequalities that have existed throughout our history, but that is what courageous people do, they identify their shortcomings, and strive to resolve them.

Let us keep our sleeves rolled up and focus on the work ahead.”

Today is the day to explore how a UI&U Ph.D. program will expand your career. Learn more at this link.

Alumna is new chief of police

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Bisa French (B.S. 2012) is the new chief of police of Richmond, California, effective August 1, 2020. She is making history as the first woman and woman of color to take the helm of the 150-member department that serves approximately 102,000 residents in this Bay area city.

Chief French began her career with the Richmond Police Department in 1998. She rose through the ranks, starting in patrol, and in 2006 was promoted to the rank of sergeant. In 2011, she was promoted to lieutenant with responsibility as the Dayshift Watch Commander in patrol. In 2013, she was promoted to the rank of Captain, assuming responsibility for the Central District, Youth Services Bureau, and Traffic Division. In 2016, she became Assistant Chief, and Interim Chief in 2019.

Chief French was born in San Francisco to a Puerto Rican mother and an African American father. Her husband is an Oakland police sergeant and she is the mother of three children. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from Union, she holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Golden Gate University. In a recent interview with NPR, Chief French acknowledged the challenges police are facing for accountability, particularly in the current environment of protests against police brutality. “I do think I’m uniquely situated to understand the challenges that the community is bringing forth, as well as the challenges of being an officer and putting this uniform on. I am Black, and I am blue. … there’s a line that I kind of tote and balance of being a person of color and wearing a blue uniform.”

Chief French told the Mercury News, “I feel for my community and their push for just basic human rights that we’re still fighting for after all this time,” she said. “Yet everything that’s happened after it, and the attacks on law enforcement — I also know what it feels like to be a person that represents this uniform and gets attacked just for that. So, it’s a difficult position to be in, and my perspective of being ‘black and blue’ — as what I call it — is a unique perspective, and I have to use that for the good.”

Richmond City Manager Laura Snideman said in a statement. “I’m delighted to appoint Bisa French, and gratified that our Police Chief is someone of such high quality, impeccable character, and unparalleled local experience. In addition to her outstanding law enforcement qualifications, she’s someone who really knows the people, the issues, and the values and needs of the Richmond community.”

Chief French joins the many UI&U graduates who serve as Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs and the over 6,300 law enforcement officers nationwide that hold a Criminal Justice Management degree from Union.

The CJM program is the choice of law enforcement professionals nationwide because it was developed by and for law enforcement professionals.

“Not only was the Union Criminal Justice Management developed by law enforcement professionals, the classes are taught by law enforcement professionals who understand the real-world issues faced in the field,” said Paul Brugman, UI&U Criminal Justice Management program chair.

Union understands the demands of the working adult. The CJM program is a flexible, online delivery that allows the law enforcement professional to work fulltime. The program also connects the student to site coordinators who provide personal attention not available at other universities.

“Union recognizes the fieldwork of the CJM student and transfers up to 32 semester credits from Basic POST and FDLE training with an internship component. In addition, up to 30 additional credits for training beyond the academy are counted,” said Brugman.

The CJM degree prepares the graduate to enter the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) program to further leadership skills. “The MSOL is a bridge to hone leadership skills,” said Brugman. “The program is designed to provide solutions to complex issues faced by today’s professional.”

UI&U’s major in Criminal Justice Management will start you on a rewarding career in law enforcement. Start today by clicking on this link.

Alumna treasures her Union experience

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To Dr. Dora Tippens, Ph.D.1997, the Union experience was a rarity, a treasure that should be experienced by so many more students. She credits her academic journey at Union for turning her dissertation into a complete guide for college teachers to interculturalize their business communications coursework and establish new curricula.

In the Q & A below, the alumna also explains why she donates to the Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD campaign.

Dr. Tippens and her husband Jack.

Q. You are paying your degree forward by investing in Union and its students. Why do you choose to invest in Union’s students?

When I was working hard to achieve my Union doctoral degree, I was also teaching college writing and literature (a mass of papers to grade!), working part-time as a corporate communications consultant, raising two children, mentoring a grandchild, volunteering in my church and my community, cooking and cleaning our home– a converted barn, and so much more! Although my financial commitment to Union was ultimately reimbursed when my college granted me a one-semester paid sabbatical to work on my dissertation, I would like to earmark financial aid to women who are on a similar family-job-schooling journey and who need a financial boost to have one less thing to be anxious about.

Q. What did your degree and your Union experience do for your career?

My Ph.D. moved me several lanes on our salary schedule so that my retirement pension could be based on a higher salary amount. I am grateful for that every single month! And it was nice to hear my students call me “Dr.” I think they took me more seriously, too.

My ability at Union to design and complete my course curricula while meeting with career professionals/advisors increased my subject knowledge as well as my networking contacts. My academic advisor frequently told me that I was working far harder than a typical doctoral candidate, but I always worried that I needed to explore more sources, include more current information, and interview more people. As it turned out, my dissertation was a fairly complete guide for college teachers to interculturalize their business communications curricula. It was a tutorial on what “intercultural” means, as well as on how to apply it to existing curricula. And I was even able to use the same information and techniques in my part-time corporate communications consulting job, which made my professional credibility even stronger.

In addition, the independence that a Union student accepts requires much more creativity and flexibility in being involved in the learning process. This was a bonus for me as a teacher, and it helped me to design many more cross-discipline learning communities at my college. The success experienced by these communities encouraged me to publish increasingly more articles on how seemingly unrelated academic disciplines could benefit from, in my case, intercultural business communication.

Q. Union is known for its commitment to social justice. Does that aspect of the university influence your decision to invest in Union and its students? If so, how?

My Union financial contributions are focused on supporting working women as they earn degrees. Nonetheless, I believe that social justice issues need our serious attention, and I am very proud that Union takes an active role in bringing awareness and improvement to social justice concerns.

Q. Union’s goal is to transform lives and communities. Can you share how this goal may have impacted you?

While I was working alongside other doctoral candidates and helping them as they helped me to focus and fine tune, I learned an enormous amount about creativity, versatility, community, and the love for learning. The Union process, much like the European graduate learning process, encourages Socratic learning and learning- by-doing. It is not about reading a book and taking a test. It is not about picking some minute topic and writing about it ad nauseum to make it seem important.

A good friend of mine received his Ph.D. in physics from a prestigious New England college. A few years after he got his degree, he went back to his campus and to the college library. There he found his dissertation on the library shelf with the $10 tucked inside where he had left it. No one had opened his dissertation. I haven’t had the heart to tell him that I have read comments from people who “used” aspects of my dissertation to establish new curricula!

Q.What else would you tell prospective donors about why they should give to Union?

My husband and I are scholarship donors to our shared college alma mater and to our previous college employers. As students and teachers, we know what it’s like to have to worry about many issues while attending college, and we want to alleviate some of those stresses from as many people as we can. Helping students have an easier time of it can only encourage them to want to learn more and to be grateful to their college for helping to make them whole. The Union experience, in particular, is a rarity, a treasure, that should be available to so many more students.

From a practical standpoint, it is also easier to be a donor if you use funds from your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). These are amounts of money that people over 70 1/2 have to take, by law, from IRAs each year. It is effortless giving to sign some or all of these RMDs over to charities.

Union’s Pay it 1964WARD campaign is underway to make a difference in the lives of our students. At UI&U, 100 percent of funds designated to scholarships goes directly to the student. Throughout 2020, we will feature a number of Union donors – alumni, trustees, friends, and others – who support Union and our goals to transform lives and communities. Please join them through Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD today. Click here to donate.

Women win the vote – gender inequality remains

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Suffragists marching, probably in New York City in 1915. Photo from Library of Congress.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote on August 18, 1920. The amendment became law on August 26, 1920, after Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the official document certifying the successful ratification.

Women suffragists marching on Pennsylvania Avenue led by Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson (center on horseback); U.S. Capitol in background. Mar. 3, 1913. Photo from Library of Congress.

On November 2, 1920, for the first time, more than 8 million women across the U.S. voted in elections. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires 2/3 of the states to ratify the amendment. Of note, it took more than 60 years for the remaining 12 states to ratify the 19th Amendment, with Mississippi being the last state to do so on March 22, 1984. (Source: History)

Some of the leading figures of color in the suffrage movement were left to right, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, Ida B. Wells, and Mary Church Terrell. Photo by Meghan Smith/Creative Commons. Read more at 5 Essential Black Figures in the Women’s Suffrage Movement”.

The women’s right to vote came two years after the end of World War I. While historians question and debate how central World War I was to women achieving suffrage, it certainly brought the injustice to the forefront.

“Whoever denies that woman’s suffrage is not only an appropriate subject for discussion at this time, but an imperative war measure, is ignorant of the causes which led us into the war and the aims for which we are fighting in the war,” said Carrie Chapman Catt, a leading suffragette and founder of the League of Women Voters, would say the following year. She added that if this was truly a war for democracy and against autocracy, the United States could hardly continue to disenfranchise half its population by denying them the right to vote

Elizabeth Hommowun, current Union Ph.D. student and graduate of the UI&U’s Master of Arts program with a major in Literature and Writing degree, is exploring female experiences during World War I. She asks the following questions: Why has the 21st century entered its second decade with the female narrative of this war staying as static and narrow as it had been 100 years ago? Are we still painting women in certain roles because of gender norms of yesteryear? Are we still mired in ideas from 100 years ago?

Nannie Helen Burroughs (left) was a national leader within the Woman’s Convention of the National Baptist Convention, many of whose members supported women’s suffrage. Burroughs later became part of an important Washington, D.C., network of African American women. Photo from Library of Congress.

Help us to win the vote. Suffragist, “Mrs. Suffern,” holding sign; crowd of boys and men behind. 1914. Photo from Library of Congress.

“Here is what articles and books will tell you: Women had a role during The Great War. They had always had a ‘place.’ Women were already a part of the workforce. You would find female police officers patrolling the city hotspots for undesirable behavior. They were continuing to develop the work of the Suffrage Movement,” said Elizabeth. “They were even part of the military. A point of fact is that the female experiences during World War I were as diverse and dynamic as any frontline soldier attempting to survive the conflict.”

In an article by Abigail Higgins titled “American Women Fought for 70 Years. It Took WWI to Finally Achieve It,” she points out that more than nine million women helped with the war effort, outnumbering the almost five million men who served. Women saw combat as nurses, ambulance drivers, and Salvation Army front line runners who delivered hot coffee and refreshments. Women served in the Navy in areas as mechanics, munition workers, and as translators. A staggering eight million women volunteered with the Red Cross. Librarians erected makeshift libraries in camps and distributed nearly 10 million books and magazines.

Elizabeth points out that, “Americans have a fascination with the soldiering aspect of war and women are often not seen as important. Today there are few movies about women in war but we know women are fighting; we just do not represent their experiences on the same scale. It’s 2020 and viewers are still drawn to that stereotype.”

Theorist Janet Staiger is helping Elizabeth with how we should remember these women. “Staiger’s work helps me to understand the intersection of film, television, and reception. It’s about exploring how we consume popular media, like television and film, to contextualize or understand historical events. So, if we examine the way in which women are portrayed in stories about war, or the Suffrage movement in this case, what potential message is either being displayed or received by the viewer? It’s important to examine the narratives we consume,” said Elizabeth.

Inez Milholland Boissevain, wearing white cape, seated on white horse at the National American Woman Suffrage Association parade, March 3, 1913, Washington, D.C. Photo from Library of Congress.

As a female scholar, teacher, and citizen, Elizabeth says this is important because we are still grappling with notions of power, gender, and representation. “Here we are, 100 years after women won the right to vote, and there are still gender inequalities to overcome, including the wage gap. It seems obvious to point out, but if all of these years have passed, and there is still work to be done, how could someone suggest that sharing the stories of the women who have gone before us to fight for equality is not important?”

Elizabeth Hommowun

Elizabeth is a Disability Services Coordinator and academic coach at Illinois College. Born and raised in Illinois, she chose Union for her M.A. and Ph.D. because the programs have allowed her to develop as a scholar within her discipline and create learning experiences catered to her research interests. In addition to her doctoral studies at UI&U, she shares her life with her husband Jeremy and puppy Hazel. You can learn more about Elizabeth at LinkedIn.

Editor’s note: The suffrage movement was a decades-long battle that took many years and many people to finally win the right for American women to vote. To learn more:

Learn more about Union Institute & University and the opportunities to complete your degree or start a new career at this link.

A legacy of learners

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The Mall family lives by the motto, “Trust the process.”

That is just what they did when all four members of the family decided to attend Union at the encouragement of matriarch Dr. Harriet Mall, Ph.D. (1999).

“I trace my career back to Union,” said Harriet, now a clinical psychologist and trauma specialist focusing on holistic, integrative health and wellness. “I was at Vermont College in its low-residency program working on my master’s and I had an amazing job. I could not quit working and a professor advised me to attend Union for my doctorate. Union met me where I was in my career and studies. I was so impacted by Union’s dedication to high standards, respect for the learner, inclusion and diversity, and the requirement of interdisciplinary studies.

Harriet and Sandy Mall

During my studies at Union I was appointed as the learner representative on the psychology committee and admission committees. I served several years and upon graduating, they kept me on as an alumni representative. During that time, I suggested they connect with Vermont College because Union didn’t have a master’s program. I watched as the merger occurred in 2001 [when Union purchased Vermont College’s programs and campus]. It truly felt like my academic parents got married!”

Harriet remembers her professors fondly.

“One of my favorite memories was at the doctoral colloquium. Dr. Joe Meeker instructed us to understand that achieving the doctoral degree is the highest form of scholarship, but just the beginning of our scholarship, the introduction to lifelong learning! Also, Dr. Ross Speck, my faculty advisor, was incredibly supportive and encouraging. Dr. Argentine Craig, of Vermont College, served as advisor and I was thankful for the support of Dr. George Frank, as reader and to Dr. Betty Bishop, adjunct, who saw my potential.”

Union was also a definitive step to law school and a flourishing legal career for husband Sanford “Sandy” Mall.

“I was in my mid 30s with our two children, ages 6 and 9.  I needed exactly what Union offered – the chance to attend remotely, obtain credits for life experience, expedite the process, and earn an accredited undergraduate degree that would allow me to be accepted to law school,” said Sandy founder and senior partner of Mall Malisow & Cooney, P.C., a holistic law firm specializing in elder care, special needs and estate planning where he also practices as a disability rights lawyer and teaches Law and Bioethics at the Wm. Beaumont School of Medicine.

How did Union impact Sandy?

“It was the entire process, the fertile ground of possibility that was encouraged, nurtured and allowed to take form,” he says. “The experience was like being the music created by a flawless symphony – the conductor was process. My family gave me the gift of freedom and the opportunity to take hold of the responsibility to shape my future in such a profound and atypical way. It all added up to make the process sacred.”

As Harriet and Sandy’s children grew, they encouraged their two children to “Trust the Process” and follow in their footsteps and attend their alma mater.  Both son Zachary (Zak) and daughter Kayla Hazan took their parents’ advice. Zak earned his B.A. from Union in 2006, attending the Liberal Studies while it was still housed at the former Vermont College campus. He has had an interesting career, including working in the mortgage industry and banking, and is now a serial entrepreneur in cannabis and real estate. Daughter Kayla Hazan is a current student in the Bachelor of Science Business Management degree program.

Zak and his family

Zak credits his time at Union for his success today. “Being able to get my degree while continuing my career was the building block for who I am now. I discovered my ability to take on multiple things at once and have success at all of them. I am now a husband, father of three young kids, and I run three of my own businesses.”

The rigor of the classes remains with him today.

“Our work load: read 20 books and write 40 pages of finished writing within a six month time period. Every few weeks we would submit a progress report and correspond with our professors. This was a 20-hour a week commitment to do it right. I learned how to manage my time between work and school to get the work done. While reading and writing on subjects I’d chosen, I gained the skills to research and write my own ideas about the information. This skill is fundamental in my life and businesses today. I am constantly researching and testing ideas. My experience at Union has been integral to my growth and development.”

Kayla Hazan and her family

Kayla, a wife and mother of two young children, works for her father’s law firm and may follow him into the legal profession. She recalls fondly he read her case studies instead of fairy tales as a child.

“In my professional career, I have found that taking business management and leadership classes, especially those taught by Dr. Rich Chaffee, are helping to spark ideas for the law firm. My studies give me a boost of confidence in my day-to-day work experience,” said Kayla.

The family remains true to Union’s commitment to service and social responsibility.

Through her psychology practice, Harriet helps individuals and groups in their recovery from trauma. In these pandemic times she is practicing tele-health with her patients. She also serves in various capacities on committees to promote ethics, maintain standards, improve lives, and facilitate learning. Sandy uses his education, life experience, and expertise to help relieve discomfort in others at his law firm that takes a holistic approach to provide comprehensive elder law and estate planning services that consider the whole person, including their values, wishes, and unique family dynamics.

Kayla works to continue the law firm’s commitment as a source of advocacy and assistance to the community.

Zak is helping people realize that some pharmaceutical medicines are detrimental to their health. He provides information and education about cannabis alternatives and has seen people’s life change for the better. As a mortgage broker, he assists in home ownership and works with small business owners to buy buildings and enhance their businesses. “I’ve been a consistent resource for guidance in both my fields. Everything I do is with the utmost integrity and I work to set a good example for how people in my industries should be.”

The Mall family has  advice for the busy working adult who needs to complete an undergraduate degree or enhance a career with a graduate degree.

“Trust the Process.”

Union Institute & University will meet you where you are with a degree to fit your lifestyle at this link.

Summer 2020 Virtual Ph.D. Residency inspires change

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What does it mean to be Black and patriotic in 21st-century America? Can life-enhancing outcomes positively affect the mentally ill? These are just two of the topics Ph.D. students grappled with at the Summer 2020 Virtual Ph.D. Residency July 2-10, with 90 students and 22 faculty members participating, assisted by administrators and staff across the university.

The bi-annual Ph.D. residency, until now, has been held face-to-face, bringing together doctoral students and faculty to connect, take classes and seminars, meet with faculty, and create community. The coronavirus pandemic impacted this tradition when administrators made the difficult decision to hold the residency as a virtual experience, mirroring the mid-residencies held throughout the year.

Fellow students and faculty welcomed Cohort 24, a diverse group ranging in age from 26 to 82, from six states as well as Lagos and the Ukraine.

While the new and returning students and faculty missed the deep personal interactions of the in-person residencies, the experience was considered a success. “The exploration of ideas in a vibrant community of academically focused peers and mentors is the hallmark of residency. The experience, even a virtual experience, bonds the students and inspires each to make change,” said President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb. “They find respect for differences and diversity, and encouragement to visualize and conceptualize ideas for change in their communities.”

Jennifer Raymond, Ph.D., interim dean of the Ph.D. Program in Interdisciplinary Studies program, reflected on the decision to hold a virtual residency.

“When we learned that we would not be able to hold our residency in person, I heard from faculty and students that they appreciated the concern for their safety,” Dr. Raymond said. “Still, there was a sense of loss and grief about not being together in person. We decided to build the July 2020 Ph.D. virtual residency around the themes of creativity. The residency planning committee and the student governance committee worked together to create a vibrant and engaging residency. We created a pre-residency speaker series during the months of May and June, which featured faculty, alumni and guest speakers. Next, we considered how to accommodate students across six or more time zones. To ensure close connectivity and mentoring, faculty made themselves available for individual and small group meetings. Several faculty held “Coffee Hours” for students and faculty to just drop by and visit. And, we even offered virtual chair yoga classes.”

Academic classes and activities throughout the eight-day residency incorporated topics ranging from the creative process to research methods, including “The Call to Lead” by Dr. Betty Overton-Adkins, “Memoir & Identity” by Dr. Diane Allerdyce, “Education for Democracy & Social Justice” by Dr. Hassana Alidou, and “Design Thinking” by Dr. Anu Mitra.

Presentation by alumnus Dr. Raul Manzano

Guest speakers included alumnus Raul Manzano, Ph.D., 2015, who uses art as a powerful force for challenging dominant narratives and advocating for social change. His topic addressed the post- Ph.D. journey and creativity.

Julie Marie Wade

Guest speaker Julie Marie Wade presented on “The Personal is Still Political: Making Art with Pride in the New Millennium.” Wade is the author of 12 collections of poetry and prose, including “P*R*I*D*E” and the book length lyric essay, “Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing.”

New students were also introduced to Penumbra, Union’s interdisciplinary journal of critical and creative inquiry. Penumbra is a peer-edited, peer reviewed, online journal, created in 2013 by faculty and students under the leadership of Dr. Karsten Piep. Penumbra invites academic papers as well as creative and critical works that address any aspect of the journal’s mission and scope. Penumbra’s goal is to promote social change through theoretically informed engagements with concrete issues and problems by publishing socially engaged innovative, creative, and critical scholarship, with a focus on ethical, political, and aesthetic issues in the humanities, public policy, and leadership.

Dr. Raymond sums up the July 2020 virtual residency experience this way.

“We discussed philosophy, and enjoyed musical and dance performances. We made art collaboratively and wrote poetry together. We shared photos of our gardens, our pets and our families. We pledged always to be the Culture Keepers of this Ph.D. program. Our Student Governance Committee offered mentoring and guidance on how to thrive in a Ph.D. program. Our MLK scholars dazzled us with their research. When we signed off for the last meeting, there was smiling and cheering and applause, and messages of best wishes and appreciation to all. Our program continues to grow and thrive because we are creative and committed to social change and to each other. Whether we sit in the same physical space or zoom room, we are a community, and we are Union.”

Union’s next Ph.D. residency is scheduled for early January 2021, when it will welcome Cohort 25.

The Union Institute & University doctoral program incorporates interdisciplinary study that explore ideas and practices in leadership, public policy, social change, ethics, creativity, innovation, design thinking, and beyond. Concentrations include Educational Studies, Ethical & Creative Leadership, Humanities & Culture, Public Policy & Social Change. Union’s Graduate Certificates provide a distinguished addition to the Ph.D. focus. Each certificate includes 12 credits of courses integrated into the major in the areas of Creative Writing, Design Thinking, Educational Leadership, Executive Leadership, Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies & Social Change, and Women’s & Gender Studies.

Learn how the Union Ph.D. program will transform your life and community at this link.

Dr. Fluke

Pay it 1964ward – A Union degree opens career doors

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Union’s Pay it 1964WARD campaign is underway to make a difference in the lives of our students. At UI&U, 100 percent of funds designated to scholarships goes directly to the student. Throughout 2020, we will feature a number of Union donors – alumni, trustees, friends, and others – who support Union and our goals to transform lives and communities. Please join them through Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD today.  

Dr. FlukeIn the interview below, alumnus Dr. John Fluke discusses why he supports Union and asks fellow alumni to reflect on this question, “If Union weren’t available, could you have achieved what you have in your career?”Read more about Dr. Fluke and his career advancement, including the release of his new book, Decision-Making and Judgment in Child Welfare and Protection in the Q&A that follows.

Q. We are launching the Pay it 1964Ward campaign to raise $1,964,000 to support our students achieve their dreams. You have been a longtime giver. Can you tell us why you give to Union?

A. My Ph.D. was the achievement of a lifetime goal. I had initiated a process with another university for a Ph.D. when I was much younger. but then I found Union. I knew Union would work well for me and my family and my professional commitments. When I actually enrolled, it was clear to me that Union’s philosophy of adult education was a philosophy I could relate to. The model is a good one.It is very rigorous and many students can benefit from it because it is uniquely suited to their experience. The model is self-directed and students must be motivated. These are not options that are readily available elsewhere.

Q. Does your gift represent your desire to pay your degree forward by investing in Union and its students?

A. Yes, I am honored to help other students. I also support students’ scholarships internationally.

Q. Tell us what your degree and your Union experience have enabled you to do in your profession, in your life. How did it impact your dreams and your career?

A. The main thing my Union degree did for me was open doors that would not have opened without a Ph.D. My career is tethered to research studies and projects. My Ph.D. leant academic credibility to my work.

For example, I was one of several professionals to edit the just released book, Decision-Making and Judgment in Child Welfare and Protection that provides scientific research to key stakeholders in child welfare protective services.

Q. Union is known for its commitment to social justice. Does that aspect of the

A. Professionally, social justice is a big part of my work and my research. I study bias in decision making, my research addresses how decisions impact underserved populations, populations of color, those in poverty, etc.

Q. Union’s goal is to transform lives and communities. Can you share how this may have impacted you when you were a student and how it might impact why you give now?

A. I would ask that my fellow alumni and current students ask themselves the question, “If Union weren’t available, could you have achieved what you have in your career?” I urge others to recognize the uniqueness of Union.

Support the next generation of leaders with your donation.
Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD today. Click here to donate.

About Dr. Fluke 

Dr. Fluke is Associate Director for Systems Research and Evaluation/Professor

Department of Pediatrics; Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect University of Colorado School of Medicine; Research Professor

Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health.

The Kempe Center is the first of its kind, established to better understand and prevent child maltreatment and to serve affected children and their families. At the Kempe Center, Dr. Fluke pursues ongoing research in the area of child welfare decision making, administrative data analysis, and the implementation and scale up of evidence supported interventions. He also pursues the ongoing development of child maltreatment epidemiology including applications to international monitoring and evaluation activities. He holds a senior position as a research faculty member, and as a member of the executive team for the Kempe Center. His portfolio includes responsibility for the systems level service delivery research related to child maltreatment including a focus on public health, child welfare, and children’s mental health systems. Responsibilities include helping to set overall strategic directions for the center, research and evaluation design, research management analytic consultation, and oversight of other research and evaluation performed by the center. The position is also responsible for specific supervision of grants and contracts as well as research and evaluation staff. The work scope includes research and evaluations related to publicly funded services systems and community-based program evaluation for state social service agencies across the country, for the Federal Government, as well as work in other countries.

Dr. Fluke has studied and has co-authored numerous papers on the effects of abuse and neglect on children, and has studied child welfare organizations and child protective services, as well as child welfare workers and their conditions. He has worked collaboratively on several projects that include the study of children in Saudi Arabia and Canadian aboriginal children in need.