Faculty & Staff

Dr. Robin Martin

Union Institute & University National Commencement Announced

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Union Institute & University National Commencement is Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 11 a.m. at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza in downtown Cincinnati. 

More than 120 students have earned degrees in the following areas: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, Doctor of Education, and Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies. 

Dr. Robin MartinThe keynote speaker is Dr. Robin Martin, Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She leads strategy, planning, and management efforts, focusing on operational excellence and development and execution of key elements of the team’s work. Dr. Martin brings more than 20 years of higher education experience as an associate provost for diversity and inclusion, a tenure track faculty member, and athletic director and coach, including many years at the University of Cincinnati. She is a master-level certified executive coach and the author of Navigating Courage: Leading Beyond Fear, which offers insights for academic professionals seeking to build a focus on equity within their institutions. Using a design-thinking approach, Dr. Martin specializes in inclusive leadership, organizational change, and an African-humanist philosophy called Ubuntu, meaning, “I am because you are.” 

Dr. Martin holds a M.Ed. in Education from the University of New Orleans, and an Ed.D. in Urban Education and Leadership from the University of Cincinnati. 

Other highlights include the following: 

  • Marvin B. Sussman Award for excellence in dissertation 
  • Brian Webb Award for Outstanding Master of Arts Thesis
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching 
  • Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Teaching
  • Award for Excellence in Scholarship
  • Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Scholarship
  • Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Legacy Alumni Award
  • Recognition of veterans Designated by wearing a special red, white, and blue honor cord, in recognition of their service to our country

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 (48 percent), women (53 percent), and an older, adult population (average age of 37) and interweaves social justice in its curriculum. Union students recognize that with knowledge comes the responsibility to serve in advancing a culturally pluralistic, equitable, and interdependent world. We work toward equality of access, prize all aspects of diversity, and live a commitment to an innovative teaching and learning culture that promotes the common good, enriched by the depth and breadth of Union’s international community of students, faculty, alumni, staff, trustees, and partners.

As Dr. King stated so eloquently, the work we each do every day – whether learning, teaching, or serving students and alumni – is dignified and important, specifically because we, together, uplift humanity. The work our students and alumni do each day is critically important. All of us connected to Union strive each day to engage, enlighten, and empower each other as we work to transform lives and communities.

To learn more about National Commencement, click here. To learn more about Union and its mission to engage, empower and enlighten click here

wind turbine alumni story

Union Graduate Taps Nature’s Tools to Benefit the Planet

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wind turbine alumni story

By Maurice A. Ramirez, D.O., Ph.D. (Union Ph.D. 2008, Retired Disaster/Emergency Medicine Physician)

People who want to reduce their carbon footprint might shop with reusable grocery bags, drive hybrid cars, or toss their newspapers in recyclable trash bins. But Maurice Ramirez, D.O., Ph.D. 2008, and his wife, Allison Sakara, N.P., P.H.R.N., have taken a much bigger step to lighten their load on the planet. On March 16, 2019, they erected a 90-foot-tall wind turbine on their Lake Wales, Florida property, the first ever in the state’s Polk County and the first noncoastal grid-tied wind turbine in the state.

The couple already had installed 81 solar panels on their home and improved its air-conditioning system to increase energy efficiency and indoor air quality.

“We then asked ourselves how we could generate power when it’s dark and stormy,” Maurice recalls thinking. “The answer? A wind turbine!”


Permits needed

permit needed

While that seemed like a no-brainer, they first had to work with the county to write an ordinance to allow for a wind energy conversion system (WECS). Next was obtaining approval from county commissioners and the board of adjustments. They also had to overcome concerns about the tower’s height, operational noise, and any potential dangers to the environment. The couple lives in a nature conservancy that is home to a number of threatened species, so finding a WECS endorsed by respected experts as native-environment safe was essential. Fortunately, their love of research paid off and they were able to find a WECS endorsed by the Audubon Society as bird safe. They also received endorsements from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and their closest neighboring property holders, The Nature Conservancy. Addressing noise output, however, later proved to be more problematic.


Solve noise issue

“After the wind turbine was installed, we discovered that it was noisier than the U.S. Department of Energy certification documents led us to believe,” states Maurice. The turbine sits atop a 90-foot monopole tower, like a “giant pinwheel” on a hollow stick. “And the problem was that this large, hollow monopole tower was acting like a giant megaphone,” he explains. The tower not only carried the noise down to ground level but it also amplified the noise. Thus, the very quiet 30 decibels generated by the turbine at the top grew to 90 decibels on the ground – the equivalent noise level of a riding lawn mower.

Fortunately, as an undergraduate at Florida State University, Maurice, a retired emergency room physician, studied sound physics, and Allison, a regulatory affairs specialist for medical devices, is an accomplished concert musician. Both recognized immediately that the root of the problem was resonance. They designed a system to mitigate resonance amplification in the hollow tower and installed vibration barriers between the turbine and its tower. “Our technology changes wind turbine towers from megaphones into mufflers,” Maurice describes. Their system lowered the noise level to between 38 and 45 decibels, achieving a reduction in perceived noise by more than 90 percent.

It’s a process that’s paying off. “We could not find any patents like our noise reduction technology,” he says. The result: Maurice and Allison now have a patent pending for their multi-modal approach for turbine noise mitigation and tower resonance reduction. That’s one of several patents they have pending or already hold, ranging from support of disaster responders to their innovative Natural Air E-Control system for HVAC energy conservation and indoor air quality improvement.


Credits Union with innovative thinking

Asked how they come up with their inventions, “We’re both medical disaster response specialists” replied Maurice. “We’re used to coming up with ‘MacGyver’ solutions,” referring to the famously unconventional problem-solving character of the CBS television series. “This is what made me a good emergency room physician and diagnostician. Its a thought process I learned from the 19 Nobel Prize laureates I studied under at Florida State University and developed during my doctoral program at Union Institute & University.” Such thought processes not only led the Union graduate to a successful career in emergency medicine and multiple patents, but also contributed to Maurice receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Disaster Medicine by the American Academy of Physician Specialists.

The fruits of that thought process are not limited to awards and inventions. Everyday benefits of their innovations make the energy efficiency of Maurice and Allison’s home exceptional. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an efficient new home consumes 30 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per 24-hour day, while the average older home consumes 85 kWh per day. The couple purchased an existing home which was found to consume 90 kWh per day. After completing the initial wave of energy efficiency measures, energy use fell below 70 kWh per day – and that was after adding a swimming pool, hot tub and large koi pond! Now, with an array of 81 solar panels and the wind turbine, Maurice and Allison generate 90 to 160 kWh per day (varies due to weather). That allows them to “bank” energy with the local power company against future needs, then annually sell energy back the remaining kWh to the local power grid.


Fourth most energy efficient home

According to the Residential Energy Services Network’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS), the nationally recognized system for calculating a home’s energy performance and the industry standard for that measurement, a home with a HERS Index score of 70 or below is considered ideal. The HERS score for Maurice and Allison’s home was originally 91, which is in keeping with many existing U.S. homes. After all the efficiency improvements, the house scored a remarkable negative 63. This score makes their home the most energy efficient renovated residence ever rated and the fourth most energy efficient home (renovation plus new construction) out of over two million homes rated since the program began.

So why did this couple invest so much time and money into energy efficiency and renewable energy systems? “For most people, including healthcare professionals, their home is their largest and most important investment,” replies Maurice. “Any improvements in energy efficiency that you make to your home not only save you money month-to-month, having a favorable HERS rating boosts your resale value. Some banks also promote ‘green energy’ projects, assisting you with targeted energy-efficiency renovation loans or rewarding your efforts with a reduction of your post-renovation mortgage rate.”

For this couple, their inventions and their renewable energy projects come down to a common motivation. “Allison and I believe that, as healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility to lead by example when it comes to global problems that impact individual and global health,” Maurice explains. “Even if you don’t invest in solar and wind power, just spending a few thousand dollars to improve your home’s energy efficiency and indoor air quality generates both local and global benefits.”

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more


Dr. Anthony Clarke

Dr. Anthony Clarke: Profile on Leadership

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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 series, Union Leaders.

This month, we feature Dr. Anthony Clarke. Dr. Clarke is one of 27 Union alumni who have served as president of a college or university. Currently president of Southeastern Community College, he was recently appointed as the new president of Guilford Technical Community College. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a bachelor’s in general engineering and military studies. He earned his MBA from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Louisville. His concentration for his Ph.D. at Union was in organizational behavior. View the list of Union’s notable alumni here.

After leaving the Army, Dr. Clarke spent several years in the corporate field before transitioning into higher education. He taught at Xavier University in Cincinnati and Gateway Community and Technical College in Kentucky before accepting a position as vice president and chief academic officer at Richmond Community College in Hamlet, North Carolina. In 2014, he was named president of Southeastern Community College.


In the Q & A below, Dr. Clarke discusses his views on leadership.

How do you define leadership?

Leadership ranges from collaboration to giving direction. It is the ability A to get B to do something they might not otherwise have done. Some people are uncomfortable with this definition as it is Dahl’s definition of power. Many people think of leadership as positive motivation, but I like this definition because it is neutral in that leadership is exercising power which can be used for good or evil.

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

 The college’s strategic plan is an example of putting leadership into action. The plan took many months and many people collaborating to put the plan into action.

What leader do you admire most and why?

 The leader I admire most is James Wolfe, the commander of the British army at the capture of Quebec from the French in 1759. That victory led to British supremacy in Canada. (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica). Although he died at the battle, he solved a difficult problem through persistence and dedication and epitomized selfless service by giving his life and exclaiming, “I die happy,” once he realized his army had won the battle, while he perished on the battlefield.

What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

 My favorite leadership quote is by Major General William C. Lee, when the 101st Airborne Division was activated. The division would play a major role in WWII during the Normandy landings and the Battle of the Bulge. He wrote that the division “has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny”. To me this quote is inspirational because I think of my leadership experiences as a series of rendezvous with destiny. I must be willing and able to face tough decisions and do the right thing when big decisions have to be made and when you must stand up and do what is appropriate.

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

The first time I felt like a leader was in high school. I was captain of the cross country team and one of my fellow runner’s had no plans for college after graduation. Every day as we ran we would discuss various situations. One day his mother came up to me and thanked me. She said that because of me her son was now going to college. I had influenced my friend and didn’t realize I was doing so. That is when I realized someone was following me.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.


Union Institute & University President Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

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President Karen Schuster Webb, Ph.D. was honored by The Gestalt Center for Organization & Systems Development (Gestalt OSD Center) in Cleveland, Ohio with a Lifetime Achievement Award on August 10, 2019.

Dr. John Carter, president and a founding member of the Center, presented the award. He described Dr. Webb’s stellar career and her passion for equity of access to education, her dedication to learning and teaching. He highlighted her record of mentoring, particularly young women seeking to advance careers in higher education. As Dr. Carter said, “Dr. Webb’s presence has made a difference in the lives of so many, and with only one request … ‘that the gift you received be passed forward.’”

The Gestalt OSD Center was established in 1974 at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. Its unique goal is to integrate Gestalt theory, systems theory and organization theory into a framework applicable to enhancing work at all levels of systems. The center conducts programs, workshops and training across the United States. It has workshop or consultation presence in six continents.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

Union Institute & University and Rotary Club to host reception for Mandela Washington Fellows

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Pictured left to right: Rotary World Affairs Committee member Baffour Otchere, Fellow Nahla Maalla, Fellow sponsor Megan Fischer of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, Fellow Leticia Asangono, Fellow Otil Amoroso Lufuma, Fellow sponsor Richard Stewart of Carriage House Farm, and Rotary World Affairs Committee member Rand Oliver.

Union Institute & University and Rotary Club of Cincinnati will host a reception for Mandela Washington Fellows on Wednesday, August 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the university’s headquarters at 440 East McMillan Street in Walnut Hills.

“Union is delighted to join the Rotary Club of Cincinnati in hosting the Mandela Washington Fellows,” said Dr. Rand Oliver, UI&U professor and Director of Alumni Affairs and member of the Rotary Club World Affairs Committee. “Union’s commitment to social justice mirrors Rotary International’s mission to advance goodwill around the world.”

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders was established in 2014. The flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), it empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2019, the Fellowship has provided 700 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home.

The Fellows, who range in age from 25 to 35, are all accomplished in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. In 2018, Fellows represented a diverse group of leaders from 48 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meet the four Fellows working in Cincinnati below.


Mandela Washington Fellowship Biographies

Amedy Pereira, Sao Tome and Principe. Working with La Terza Coffee.

Amedy Taty Pereira is the manager of Ephraim, a family business that–in addition to producing coffee and cocoa– is also a restaurant and a guest house in the heart of São Tomé. Amedy inherited the company from his father, the only coffee and cocoa producer on the island at the time, at the age of 18 after a health scare. Given the opportunity to manage the growth of Ephraim, Amedy has been at the firm ever since. The opportunity to lead the company fostered a previously untapped entrepreneurial desire. Amedy is also a volunteer and leader in the Association Asas Célélé, which aims to support underprivileged children and orphans in the community of Roça Monte Café. He is a communicative, resilient, organized, and passionate leader that continually looks to develop his skills to add value to Ephraim.

Leticia Asangono, Equatorial Guinea. Working with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank.

Leticia Alene Nsue Asangono has eight years of experience in the oil and gas industry and works as a contract analyst for Marathon Oil. She is currently studying for her bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration at Atlantic International University and is a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur. Outside of her studies, Leticia runs ONG Pañales Y Comida Infantil (ONG PACOIN), a non-governmental organization that provides free food and diapers to children in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. As the founder of ONG PACOIN and a single mother, Leticia intimately knows the challenges parents face when raising a child. Leticia also volunteers with organizations, and currently works with the La Ronda Project by donating food and clothing to families affected by fires in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Leticia plans to open new ONG PACOIN branches throughout Equatorial Guinea to support more children and families in need.

Nahla Maalla, Sudan. Working with the City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability

Nahla Maalla is a certified energy management professional and the founding engineer of the energy conservation project in DAL Dairy factory. She is an alumnus of the 2018 Arab Program for Sustainable Energy Youth program which took place in Egypt 2018 and was a member of the first prize winner team in the United Nations Development Programme 2015 Social Good Summit. She is also blogger, through which she shares her insights about the energy issues, opportunities and its associated socio-economic impacts on the sustainable development in Sudan.

Otil Amoroso Lufuma, Angola. Working with Carriage House Farm.

Otíl Venancio Amoroso Lufuma is a young farmer from Soyo, Angola with seven years of experience in agriculture. Otíl primarily works in banana and maize production and is the founder of an agribusiness start-up and manager of his own farm. Otíl has completed several trainings on modern farming technologies and volunteers in his community as a leading agriculturalist helping women and young children from low-income families to pursue careers in agriculture. Growing up in a low-income family himself, Otíl learned to farm from his grandparents. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Otíl’s long-term goal is to work on self-sustainable agricultural growth projects to fight malnutrition, hunger, and extreme poverty.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

Dr. Anu Mitra

Dr. Anu Mitra named recipient of Union’s Gopman Faculty Research Award and a Fulbright Scholarship

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A first-of-its-kind research project will take Dr. Anu Mitra to Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana.

Dr. Mitra, professor in Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program, will study the South Asian/Indian people who arrived in this Caribbean in the 1840s.

“The Herbert L. and Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman Research Fund will allow me to examine the art that emerged from the Indian migration to the Caribbean in the first wave of immigration,” said Mitra.

She seeks to stitch together their oral and visual traditions. In doing so, she will explore questions of visibility and invisibility, of distance and proximity, of power and powerlessness, of remembering and dis-remembering, as they are elucidated in the visual and cultural effects of the South Asian/Indian diaspora in this region.

Dr. Mitra’s project for the Fulbright Scholarship will extend this study and address questions such as:

  • Who is an American?
  • Can immigrants have the same influence and role in American society as their white counterparts?
  • How can immigrants reclaim self-hood?
  • Can this reclamation have redemptive values?
  • If so, what are they and how can they be accessed for the greater good of the American democratic process and a just society?


Dr. Mitra’s Research Advances the UI&U Mission

Both projects proposed by Dr. Mitra advance UI&U’s mission. They do so by using interdisciplinary methodology to explore issues of social justice and injustice in the world, which has been the compass guiding her work.

“I want to explore the feelings of inequality and disenfranchisement that are part of the Indian psyche and the injustices that are latent in the system that promotes this mindset. I also want to problem-solve, through the visual artifacts that remain, and determine how self-representation and self-identifying narratives can be changed through the pictorial story,” said Mitra.

Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president for academic affairs shared his thoughts. “Dr. Mitra’s work is an excellent example of Union’s mission to transform lives and communities. Her goal is to shed light and develop new insights through multiple lenses. Her work informs her teaching and provides new perspectives to our students as they fulfill their educational journeys and pursue pathways where they can make a difference.”

Alumna Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman and her late husband, Herbert, established The Gopman Fund to encourage and fund faculty research. The Fulbright Global Scholar Program promotes international goodwill through the exchange of researchers and students in the fields of education, culture, and science.


About Dr. Anu Mitra

Dr. Mitra has served Union Institute & University since the 1990s, as an administrator, faculty member, and dissertation chair. She believes strongly in interdisciplinarity – believing that our world is too complex and dynamic to understand through the lens of a single discipline. Her research and workshops linking art and social justice and art and leadership development have been offered at many forums, including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the University of Cincinnati Medical School, and to doctoral candidates at Union Institute & University. She continues to be drawn to the idea that all problems are capable of being solved, but only if we are able to view multiple solutions through the lenses of different perspectives.

Dr. Mitra serves on the boards of the Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Art Museum. Her areas of expertise are visual culture, arts-based practices, art, and leadership development. She has presented on several aspects of her work, most recently at the Art of Management and Organizations, American Management Association, International Leadership Association, among others. Dr. Mitra has traveled to more than 50 countries and lived on three continents. Her passions include frequenting museums, movies, and reading fiction. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

Dr. Shanda L. Gore

Dr. Shanda L. Gore Appointed Vice President for Institutional Innovation and Economic Development at Union Institute & University

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Dr. Shanda L. Gore

President Karen Schuster Webb, Ph.D., has announced the appointment of Shanda L. Gore, Ed.D., as the first Vice President of Institutional Innovation and Economic Development at Union Institute & University. Dr. Gore will work with the leadership team to develop long-term revenue strategies for enrollment growth, new market access, and targeted funding sources.

“Union Institute & University is recognized as a student-centered academic leader. I believe in Union’s mission to serve students across the nation. Union’s commitment to social justice addresses the concerns for today. The opportunity to lead the university in institutional innovation and economic development is exciting and I look forward to working with Union’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners,” said Dr. Gore.

Dr. Gore has held several roles in higher education including associate vice president, chief diversity officer, and an executive director for 15 years at the former Medical College of Ohio Foundation and the University of Toledo (UT). A seasoned fundraiser, she has raised funds through events, donor relations, and grants totaling more than $2 million in the last six years. She has also taught at undergraduate and graduate levels and served on dissertation committees. As an administrator, she created and directed the regional UT Minority Business Development Center and was recently awarded additional funding to enhance its virtual capabilities worldwide.

“We are honored to have Dr. Gore join Union as the university defines its future,” said President Webb. “Her vast experience and knowledge will be an asset as we increase strategic partnerships, enhance our work within our communities across the nation, and provide diverse educational opportunities to engage, enlighten, and empower adult students with the education they need to transform lives and communities.”

In the private sector, Dr. Gore has been a trainer, marketing coordinator and specialist for regional and national firms. She is the president and founder of Mays and Associates, LTD, a strategic planning and consulting company serving clients across the United States. She has served as the president of the Ohio Diversity Officers Collaborative, State of Ohio Coordinator of the American Association of Access, Equity, and Diversity, and currently serves as State co-chair and executive board member for the American Council of Education (ACE) Women’s Ohio Network.

She has published and presented at competitive conferences, including the Higher Learning Commission, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Diversity Council Leadership Conference, and the Annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. Recognized as an African American Legacy Emerging Leader of Excellence, she is the recipient of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union Community Appreciation Award. She recently completed workshops for Big 10, MAC, and Mid Atlantic NFL officials on team building strategies.

Dr. Gore is a graduate of Bowling Green State University from which she earned three degrees: a Bachelor of Communications degree, a Master’s of Communication with a study emphasis on minority communities in the Greater Toledo Ohio area, and a Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies. Her research area was involvement behaviors and minority medical student retention.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

Softball and Higher Education Equal a Home Run for Julie Crandall

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When you talk to Julie Crandall, executive director of UI&U’s Sacramento Academic Center, you quickly learn she has two passions – softball and higher education.

The retired professional softball player, who attended University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) on a full scholarship, is a two-time All-American.

“I was a tomboy and grew up playing baseball with the boys,” said Julie. “I switched to softball because opportunities for girls were more prevalent.”

Her prowess on the field landed her in the UNLV Hall of Fame as a team member and as a catcher. Her team was third in the nation. She was also the 1998 UNLV Sportswoman of the Year.

As a professional, she travelled the country and played exhibition games with the U.S. Olympic team.

“My mind focuses when I am on the field,” said Julie who now plays slow softball. “I am at my happiest playing.”

Crandall completed her master’s in communications at Auburn University in Alabama, where she was a graduate assistant. A chapter on her thesis on millennial celebration time and frequency was published Expressions of Ethnography—the chapter is titled “The Millennium Waltz”.

Her other passion is higher education.

“My parents were high school teachers. I always knew I was headed to college,” she says.

Julie believes in higher education and in Union. “Education is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Union students are special in that they are working adults, juggling a career, family, and school,” said Julie who teaches two classes for Union.

She recently became System Director for Regional Recruiting along with her duties as Executive Director of the Sacramento Academic Center. Her work fit into Union’s goal to develop unique adaptations to the various locations served, while maintaining seamless integration with the Enrollment and Marketing teams who are collectively focused on growing enrollment across all programs in all locations.

Julie looks forward to her new position.

“Union is a special place with infinite opportunities to transform lives and communities.”

Interesting facts about Julie:

Selected for the All-Star Team when playing professionally.

She has lived in nine states.

She can juggle!

She teaches two classes at Union: From Stone Tablets to Twitter and Human Communication and Misunderstanding.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.


Meet UI&U World-Changer Sonya M. Fultz, M.Ed.

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Sonya’s love for Guatemala started 16 years ago when she adopted her son.

“It was love at first sight. I knew he was my son when I set eyes on him,” says Sonya M. Fultz, M.Ed., Senior Director for Enrollment and Academic Partnerships at UI&U.

Since then she has led Guatemala adoptive families on Return to Guatemala trips, aiding them in connecting with their children’s birth country.


President of ALDEA

She also serves as president of ALDEA: Advancing Local Development through Empowerment and Action in Guatemala. ALDEA addresses the principal needs of rural, indigenous Guatemalans to strengthen communities and enhance the health and well-being of families. They work in predominantly Mayan communities in the Department of Chimaltenango in Guatemala.

Sonya was initially drawn to this organization’s vision for community empowerment and long-term sustainability. “I’m proud of how our work has evolved in recent years as we’ve learned together through experience and responded to the changing needs of our Mayan partners.

Right now, our commitment to locally led development and continued growth is taking us in exciting new directions. In response to community feedback during last year’s strategic planning process, our partners at ABPD have successfully engaged men in a new pilot program designed to complement our women’s empowerment work. They’re focusing more on addressing domestic violence. And, we have recently installed our first solar-powered potable water system!”

ALDEA is working with Information Matrix, a television program hosted by film star Laurence Fishburne, on a short-form documentary about ALDEA. It will air on public television stations nationwide along with a commercial.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to raise awareness about issues in Guatemala and our approach to grassroots development.”

Sonya is a world changer and a representative of Union’s mission to transform lives and communities.


About Sonya M. Fultz

Sonya is the Senior Director for Academic Partnerships at Union Institute & University. She formerly served as chair of the Southwestern Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) Articulation and Transfer Committee. She also taught and served as Chair of Undergraduate Studies at Antioch University Midwest in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She has trained the Ministry of Education in Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago in Comprehensive School Conflict Management and is focused on classroom management and conflict studies. Her interest in Guatemala originated with her Guatemalan-born son. She has led Guatemala adoptive families on Return to Guatemala trips for the last 13 years, aiding them in connecting with their children’s birth country.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Marine Veteran Continues Quest to Help Children

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Mitch and Mindy Rivas are making an impact on the world of the medically fragile community through the Maryssa Mission Foundation (MMF). They created the foundation shortly after Maryssa was called to heaven in November 2015 at age two.


The Challenge

“We saw firsthand the challenges of a family with a medically fragile child. We often found ourselves living in a hospital room four hours from home. As doctors tried to understand and cure Maryssa’s uncommon diagnosis, we stayed by her beside constantly. Our stays at the hospital were met with financial struggles, periods of hopelessness, and a looming feeling of inadequacy as parents, because we were being split from our other three growing children who longed for their parents and sister.”


Partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The foundation partnered with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), where Maryssa had been a patient, to create the Home Away From Home Initiative. To date, the foundation has raised $37,500, enough to provide temporary safe lodging to families for more than 280 nights.


New Initiative

New this year is Maryssa Family Lounge. The lounge will be part of the expanded critical care building on the corner of the old and new hospital segments. This unique location symbolizes the transition of Maryssa’s life and journey in the hospital to the amazing mission of her foundation.  Families will have access to this 40-person capacity room, a safe refuge to digest information regarding their child’s care plan. And, it’s within running distance of their child’s room, in case a situation requires immediate attention. A $100,000 donation will make this family lounge a reality. The Rivas Family hopes to cut the ribbon on the lounge around her 7-year angel-versary in November of 2022. She would have been 9 years old. Her twin sister Malinah will do the honor of cutting the ribbon.


Union’s Role

Rivas, a Marine Corps veteran and UI&U alumnus, used his capstone project to create the blueprints for the foundation to honor Maryssa’s memory.

“UI&U played a vital role in the progress of MMF. My capstone project revolved around the strategic planning for our foundation. As we celebrate our fourth year of incorporation we are grateful to share our accomplishments with the university. I am forever grateful of UI&U’s part in this wonderful journey,” said Rivas.


What’s Next?

Our largest fundraiser, the MMF Spring Banquet and Auction Fundraiser, just raised more than $53,000 to benefit the medically fragile community and continues to grow. But our mission remains the same: to honor Maryssa and “Be the Blessing We Prayed to Receive®.” For more information, please visit


About Mitch Rivas

Mitch is a world changer who is living the UI&U mission to change lives and communities. He holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) from Union. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran.


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