Faculty & Staff

Executive in Residence

Thomas Dugger is Union’s First Executive in Residence

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Thomas Dugger, an accomplished nonprofit leader, has joined Union as its first Executive in Residence.

Tom DuggerThe former Scout Executive/Chief Executive Officer of the Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America brings more than 30 years of leadership experience to the new position with the goal to foster Union’s growth, development, and financial sustainability through strategic planning and networking.

“Tom’s knowledge of institutional advancement and networking are invaluable tools that will advance Union’s story in corporate and foundation relationship building,” said President Karen Schuster Webb.

He will work in the Office of the President, and will be working with the new Office of Development, Government Relations, and Grants Research.

Dugger looks forward to the challenge and growth opportunity to serve Union Institute & University.

“I am excited about my role as Executive in Residence at UI&U. For the last 30 years, my work has been focused on institutional advancement. I hope to bring that experience to Union. Union’s mission to engage, enlighten and empower adults to pursue lifelong learning, service, and a commitment to social responsibility is very important today.”

He has been a member of the Boy Scouts for 54 years, 43 years in the professional service of the Scout movement. He was successful in raising the profile and been part of teams that raised millions of dollars for that organization.

From 1990-1992, Dugger was a loaned executive from the Boy Scouts of America to the World Scout Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland. On this assignment he served as executive assistant to the director general of the World Scout Foundation. In that position, he worked closely with his Majesty King Karl XVI Gustav of Sweden, the patron and honorary president of the World Scout Foundation. This work took him to countries all over the world and brought him into working relationships with national Scout associations across the globe. As a result of this experience, he was awarded the Baden-Powell World Fellowship and earned a special commendation from the World Scout Movement. In the Boy Scouts of America, he has served as Scout executive/chief executive officer for councils in Albany, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Dugger is an Eagle Scout and has two Eagle Scout sons. He and his wife, enjoy the cultural arts and outdoor activities.

Union Institute & University offers educational programs for adults who wish to achieve their professional goals and pursue a lifetime of learning, service and social responsibility. Discover how Union can ignite your career today at this link.


Ph.D. Alumni appointed to prestigious higher education roles

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Two Union doctoral alumni will continue to positively impact student success in new roles this fall.

G. Koryoe Anim-Wright, Ph.D. 1996 with a concentration in Communications, has been named the first female registrar of the University of Professional Studies, (UPSA) in Accra, Ghana, West Africa.

Robert Arnold, who earned a Ph.D. with a concentration in organizational behavior and sports marketing in 2004, has been appointed acting dean of the Thomas More College of Business, Crestview Hills, Kentucky.

Dr. Anim-WrightThis is the second time in Dr. Anim-Wright’s career she has eclipsed gender roles, having served as the first female president of the African University College of Communications, also in Accra, in 2015.

Her prestigious career in higher education has included positions in the U.S. and abroad, with responsibilities for fundraising, institutional advancement, grants and contracts, development of graduate programs, infrastructure expansion and upgrades, and program and institutional accreditation.
She has served at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) as director of the Centre for Management Development and as the first Director of GIMPA’s Office of Corporate Affairs and Institutional Advancement. Prior to GIMPA, Dr. Anim-Wright was vice president for Institutional Advancement at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU), in Danbury, Connecticut from 2005 to 2010 where she had overall responsibility for the stewardship of WCSU’s advancement program. She also served as director of Public Relations and director of University Relations at WCSU. Dr. Anim-Wright is currently the host of the longest running news show on Ghanaian television, “Talking Point,”and the author of a recent article on COVID-19, that appeared in Modern Ghana:


Dr. ArnoldDr. Robert Arnold has served Thomas More since 1995 as department chair, division chair, and director of Thomas More’s Accelerated and Graduate Program. He helped establish the Bachelor of Arts in sports and entertainment marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in law while a professor in the College of Business.

He also holds a Juris Doctorate from Salmon P. Chase College of Law and is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association. His other academic degrees include a Master of Business Administration from Xavier University, and a bachelor’s degree in food technology from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Arnold is active in the community serving as mayor of Wilder, KY, chair of the Brighton Center Properties board, and is a member of the board for the Buenger Boys and Girls Club. He was instrumental in building the Next Level Academy to support youth sports. Dr. Arnold is also a graduate of Leadership Northern Kentucky.

“Dr. Anim-Wright and Dr. Arnold are examples of Union’s mission to pursue a lifetime of learning, service and social responsibility,” said President Karen Schuster Webb. “The Union community congratulates them on their exemplary careers and dedication to transform lives and communities.”

Learn more about Dr. Anim-Wright at this link. Read more about Dr. Arnold at this link. Click here to discover how a Union Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies can enhance your career.

Larry Crudup

Pay it 1964ward – Doctoral student envisions expansion of role of congregations in his research topic: “Walk Together Children: Black Congregational Leadership-as-Social Ethic”

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The Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964ward campaign is underway and is already making a difference in the lives of our students. At Union, 100 percent of funds that donors designate to scholarships go directly to the student.

Reverend Larry T. Crudup, a student pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Ethical & Creative Leadership, envisions expanding the role of congregations to leaders of social change through the art of storytelling of the Black experience. In his research topic, “Walk Together Children: Black Congregational Leadership-as-Social Ethic” he is examining narrative leadership and social ethics as a tool for systemic change. Rev. Crudup is the recipient of the Eugene Ruehlmann Fellowship for Public Service, funded by Western & Southern Financial Group and others in honor of the late mayor of Cincinnati, Eugene P. Ruehlmann in recognition of exemplary civic work.

Rev. Crudup of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma will graduate with his Ph.D. in 2020. A charter member of the Academy of Preachers, whose mission is to inspire the next generation of young preachers, he holds degrees from Belmont University and Southern Methodist University. He has served several parishes in Texas, and is founder of Ever a Leader, Inc. that advocates and develops leadership for human rights, positive peace, and social justice to improve the well-being of our neighbors at home and around the globe.

Read more about Rev. Crudup and his passion for social change in the Q&A below.

Q. How has the scholarship you received impacted your academic career?

A. My scholarship allows me to stay in school and work toward systemic change in Black congregations to benefit community and society. For example, my grandmother taught me respect for human dignity through her stories of how she was treated in the work place. She worked for white people in their homes as a caregiver. She demanded to be treated as a human being, not as a servant. Through her storytelling, she inspired me and others to believe systemic change is possible.

The funds from the scholarship lightened my financial load and allow me to pursue an education that is truly transformative.

Q. Union is known for its commitment to social justice. How will social justice be interwoven in your career plans?

A. Social justice is interwoven in my career as Senior Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. My church and I are heavily involved in social justice issues ranging from prison reentry and food disparity to death row advocacy.

It is our responsibility to help the transition from prison to community. Almost every Black person knows someone in prison or who has been in prison. It is crucial for the down-and-out to hear the painful stories of others, but also the stories about how they persevered to overcome. Black congregations can be leaders of social change by relaying these stories of triumph.

Obstacles to successful community reentry include access to food, housing, and employment. Plans are underway for a community garden. A master gardener is volunteering his time to help us design a field that will produce affordable and healthy food options. We are working with halfway houses to provide housing and job information. Other areas include the need for grocery stores in underserved areas and the abolition of the death penalty in our state.

Of great concern to me is death row advocacy work, particularly the case of Julius Jones. Julius was a member of this church. He was arrested at 19, served three years before he came to trial and has been sitting on death row for the last 22 years. I believe he is an innocent man and was wrongfully convicted. I am involved in the fight to free Julius.

To be able to tell your story is human. To relate the struggle of perseverance to your experience of fighting for social justice is never ending. I am asking Black congregations to be leaders in social justice.

Q. Union’s goal is to transform lives and communities. Can you share how this goal impacts you and your community?

A. My hope is to do my part through raising the social ethic of people, and showing them ways not to be complacent. I think mining the stories of the community will lead to training in collective leadership and help us engage the world.

Q. What are your plans after you earn your degree?

A. I will continue as a minister and hopefully a professor. I am passionate about young preachers and will continue to encourage their calling. I hope I will always be a change agent.

Q. When you have free time, how do you relax?

A.I love to watch movies and eat popcorn with my wife and family. I even bought a popcorn machine. I enjoy participation in the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and hanging out with friends. I love to read. The best part of my life is spending time with my wife and my child.

You can learn more about Rev. Crudup and his life-changing work at this link.

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

National Accreditation

Union Earns Important National Accreditation for Two Programs

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B.S. in Social Work and new M.A. in Applied Nutrition and Dietetics pass rigorous process

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Nelson Soto announced this week the successful accreditation of two Union programs that conducted rigorous, yearlong self-studies and site visits.

Union’s Bachelor of Science in Social Work, under the leadership of Dr. JoNataye Prather, earned an eight-year accreditation from the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). In addition, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) granted approval for Union’s new offering, the Master of Arts in Applied Nutrition and Dietetics, conceived and chaired by Dr. Lisa Akers.


Dr. Prather

Dr. Prather

CSWE accreditation process validates social work programs to determine they are designed with high quality to ensure students are prepared for social work practice to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities upon graduation. Chair of the Social Work Program, Dr. Prather, notes, “Union’s CSWE accreditation serves as an endorsement to verify our program equips learners with the knowledge and practice experiences to prepare them for a career in social work and to seek licensure.


Dr. Akers

Dr. Akers

ACEND requires that programs in dietetics and nutrition sciences meet requirements of quality-assurance, organizational structure, financial stability, sufficient resources, the awarding of degrees and verification statements, program length, and program management. As Dr. Akers reported, “Accreditation by ACEND ensures that the knowledge and competencies taught in the program are ethically-bound and evidence-based.  For our students, graduating from an ACEND accredited program opens job opportunities as employers value the competency-based education incorporated in the program that signifies job readiness.”  

Accreditation by national agencies is a critical component of Union’s efforts to provide relevant and rigorous programs for our students. The ‘stamp of approval’ by these agencies ensures that our students will graduate with the knowledge and credentials they need to succeed in their careers. 



Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW)

Union’s B.S. in Social Work program provides students with the knowledge, values, and skills to equip them to be generalist social work practitioners who are culturally competent and serve as advocates for diverse, vulnerable and marginalized populations. The program transforms learners into social work professionals that emphasize a commitment to service, social justice, dignity, and worth of individuals. In these ways, the program, as evaluated by CSWE, reflects Union’s core value of social justice by preparing students who emulate these values through practice behaviors, including integrity, competence, human rights, and scientific inquiry.

Union’s BSSW major prepares students through the application of course content with real-world social work practice. The program’s design is accelerated and tailored to support adult learners’ busy schedules through online delivery. Small class size promotes a positive professional rapport among faculty and students. The BSSW program’s goals include:

  • Personal and professional empowerment leading to a lifetime of leadership and service in the social work profession
  • Professional generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and institutions
  • Critical thinking, cultural competence standards, and a respect for human diversity to advocate for human and community well-being
  • Advancement in the areas of graduate education, social work licensure, and related certification for specialized practice.

One of the most exciting aspects of Union’s BSSW program is the field practicum experience. The field practicum bridges the gap between classroom and practice. Students work closely with a social work agency supervisor to gain hands-on learning to become a competent generalist social work practitioner. 

Master of Arts with a major in Applied Nutrition and Dietetics Program (MAAND)

Union’s new Master of Arts program with a major in Applied Nutrition and Dietetics provides students with course work and experiential learning experiences in Clinical Nutrition, Food Service Management, Community Nutrition, and Leadership. The program blends a high-level graduate degree and experiential learning to offer the student the opportunity to study and develop exceptional skills to provide nutrition care to a variety of populations.

The innovative, entry-level graduate program utilizes competency-based education to integrate online coursework with supervised experiential learning. Students will acquire the skills to examine underlying assumptions, explore issues from multiple perspectives, and develop new ways of thinking critically, and prepare them to be future leaders in nutrition and dietetics. The curriculum prepares students to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing examination to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). 

Under the leadership of Program Chair Dr. Lisa Akers, Union applied and was accepted as an ACEND 

Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Program in November of 2018. As a grantee of the program, Union staff received extensive training on Competency-Based Education (CBE) and the new ACEND FEM standards. The program has been designated as a Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Demonstration Program.

Research shows that there is only one Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) for every 3,610 individuals in the U.S., indicating the need to increase the workforce for patient safety and satisfaction. Employers see potential value in job applicants who will study using CBE since it aligns academics with the skills they seek in their employees. 

For more information on these programs:

Today is the day to discover your new career path. Click here to learn more. 

COVID-19 Student Grants

Individual donors provide COVID-19 emergency fund support to 33 students to help them stay in school

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Union’s student COVID-19 emergency fund was seeded by a $5,000 contribution from Union’s International Alumni Association Fund, with a goal to provide one-time grants of $300 to Union students to stave off unforeseen expenses caused by the pandemic. The hope was that these small grants would help offset some of the financial pressures caused by the worldwide pandemic. With Union continuing to offer online classes and serve students virtually, the funds were intended to encourage students to continue their education. Generous donors responded, including doctoral faculty member, Dr. Christopher Voparil providing his government-issued relief check to the fund. Enough funds were raised to provide small ($300) grants to 33 students. 

To date, $9,900 has been allocated. The students are grateful for the support. Some students had family members stricken with the disease. Others were furloughed from their jobs. Others had wives or husbands who lost their jobs. 

“The grant was a great help,” wrote one student. “Thank you for the assistance during this trying time.” 

Another student said, “Thank you so much for this! Its great news. This will help me fix my car situation.”

The International Alumni Association Board (IAAB) established the student COVID-19 emergency fund in April to help students during this challenging time. 

“The IAAB initiated the fund with $5,000 with the intent to help as many students as possible. Generous donors responded and kicked in another $5000. We are happy to report the fund has helped 33 students persist in their degree program and toward graduation,” said Dr. Randy Danielsen. Ph.D. 2003, IAAB president. “With all that is occurring, the IAAB saw the need. As former students themselves, they know the challenges of returning to school as non-traditional students, working full time, raising children, supporting aging parents. This is a small way to send a helping hand and recognize the road is never easy, but particularly difficult during these very uncertain times. All of us connected to the IAAB are deeply grateful to the donors who made contributions to assist students and let them know they matter.” 

Dr. Jay Keehn, UI&U Executive Director, Student Support Services, has overseen the allocation of the grant and knows the funds have been put to good use. “The emergency grant has been a way of connecting with our students and ensuring they are getting the additional support they need.” 

Want to help our students during this time? Consider supporting Union students today with a donation to the emergency fund at this link. If you have questions or comments, email 

Pay it 1964WARD – Why I give back: I know my donation makes a difference

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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. 

Today’s interview is with Union alumna Twyla J. Cummings, who earned her Ph.D. in 1992 with a concentration in Management. She currently serves as the associate provost and dean of Graduate Education at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In the Q&A below, Dr. Cummings discusses the important role her Union degree played in transforming her career aspirations in corporate America and higher education. She believes in paying it forward and asks fellow alumni to remember how they were supported during their own educational journey and their appreciation of the support they received. 


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

A. The phrase “knowledge is power” is often stated. I understand and believe in the power and value of education. Pursuing an advanced degree is a challenge for anyone, but for those who work full time while trying to accomplish this goal, the challenge is even greater. I suspect that many Union graduate students are dealing with this type of challenge. Therefore, I hope that my gift makes a small difference.

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

A. Pursuing a doctoral degree was a personal goal. While I wanted this credential, I did not know how I would be able to accomplish this while working in corporate America. My position at the time was quite demanding and required a great deal of travel. When I learned about Union, I knew I had found a university that would allow me to realize this goal while maintaining my job. The experiences and the pathways to the degree greatly expanded my knowledge and forced me to stretch and grow beyond my comfort zone. Additionally, the structure of the degree really helped me understand and appreciate the value of interdisciplinary education. 

When I decided to leave industry, my doctoral degree and my professional experience positioned me for my current academic journey. It provided the credentials necessary to open doors, which would not have been available otherwise. The knowledge gained from the degree allowed me to pursue in-depth research, to become an expert in my field and to transition from an assistant professor to my current role as associate provost and dean.

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?

A. I appreciate Union’s commitment to social justice. I feel that this is a commitment that should be expected of all faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

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

A. An interdisciplinary program structure like Union’s provides opportunities for individuals to shape their degrees in ways that align with their passions and areas of interest. As a Union doctoral student, one can focus on the areas that are relevant for their future career or on disciplines that will further advance them in a current role.

I realize that there have been many changes in the curricula and programs since I completed my degree, but I believe that the intent remains the same.

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

A. Education at all levels transforms lives and thus can enhance communities. Earning a doctoral degree has positioned me to be able to excel in higher education. I am pleased that providing this type of learning has become more familiar and acceptable as an alternative to traditional doctoral programs. 

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

A. Working at a university has helped me to understand the value of giving back my time, talent, and treasure. Students have so many unmet needs. Therefore, it is essential to encourage alumni and donors to support initiatives that will assist with student success. It is important to engage donors and allow them to provide support in areas that are meaningful to them. Having that understanding motivates me to make contributions and hopefully a difference. 

If alumni like myself do not contribute, there will continue to be students with unmet needs who will not have sufficient funding to attend universities like Union without incurring a staggering amount of debt. It is not always possible for one alum or donor to give large amounts, but if several individuals come together to support a cause, it will make a difference. 

Lastly, my message to prospective donors would be to think about their own educational journey, how they were supported, and to remember how grateful they were to receive this funding.

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

About Dr. Cummings

Twyla J. Cummings, Ph.D., is dean of Graduate Education and associate provost at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Prior to this appointment, she served as the senior associate dean for Graduate Studies and Faculty Research in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS), and as professor in the School of Media Sciences at RIT.

Dr. Cummings began her career at RIT in 1999 as a tenure track faculty member. She was the graduate director for the M.S. degree in Print Media from 2002-2009, with oversight for the development of two new graduate programs. In 2006, she was appointed to the Paul and Louise Miller Distinguished Professorship.Dr. Cummings’ teaching and research is focused in the areas of media distribution, media business industry trends, and women in graphic communication. She is a frequent speaker on critical trends in post-press, service diversification, and other issues impacting the graphic communication industry. She is past board member of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL; now EPICOMM) and the Board of Governors for the former R & E Council of NAPL. Dr. Cummings is a past member of the America East Advisory Board where she was the chairperson for the 2014 America East Conference. She is a member of the prestigious Walter E. Soderstrom and Nonpareil Societies of NAPL and the R & E Council. In 2013 she was inducted into the OutputLinks Communications Group’s Women of Distinction program. She was recognized with the Printing Industries of America’s 2015 Naomi Berber Memorial Award. Prior to her work at Rochester Institute of Technology, Dr. Cummings had an extensive career at Eastman Kodak Company in Dayton, Ohio.. While at Kodak, she was promoted from her first position as an ink chemist in R&D and quality assurance to levels of increasing responsibility, including marketing management, product management, and strategic management.

In addition to her professional commitments, she has been actively involved in the Rochester community. She is the past Board chair of the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation. Previously she served as Board chair for the YWCA of Rochester and as a board member for the Rochester Women’s Network. She currently serves as a member of the YWCA Board Advisory Council.

Diversity is integral to every aspect of her role. Diversity and inclusion impacts her teaching, research, recruitment/retention, mentoring, and programming. Dr. Cummings is the recipient of the 2013 RIT Changing Hearts, Changing Minds Award and the 2014 Isaac L. Jordan, Sr. Faculty Pluralism Award. She earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a M.S. in Business and Industrial Management from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Union Institute for Social Justice

Union Institute for Social Justice wants your input

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Union Institute for Social Justice (UISJ) has been established to further propel Union’s commitment to promote social justice and equity. President Karen Schuster Webb has envisioned the Institute since being named president in July 2018.

Since 1964, Union Institute & University has focused on academic excellence, creativity, diversity, integrity, and applied theory to practice, In the future, Union can be a beacon for social justice. As an international university, Union recognizes that with knowledge comes the responsibility to serve in advancing a culturally pluralistic, equitable, and interdependent world. We speak of equality; prize all aspects of diversity, and live a commitment to an innovative teaching and learning culture that promotes the common good.

The Union Institute for Social Justice was created in 2018 as a signature initiative of Dr. Karen Schuster Webb’s presidency, and in its global outreach, returns Union to its roots as a university without walls. The Union Institute for Social Justice gives voice and action to the primary descriptor of the University’s name, “Institute.” The mission for the UISJ is to apply theory to practice through scholar-practitioners, philanthropists, policymakers, and other leaders who are committed to promoting social justice and equity in the United States and globally through research, education and policy.

“Union is a world-class university with a distinguished social justice legacy,” said Dr. Webb. “This is the right time to continue the advancement and promotion of a culturally pluralistic, equitable, and interdependent world with the establishment of the Union Institute for Social Justice,” said Dr. Webb.

Dr. Webb welcomes the ideas of the Union community and its external constituents to support this new innovative department.

“Always remember that together, we are a beloved community, and we are Union Strong!” Dr. Webb says. “Wherever you are,” “I ask you to consider the following question, ‘What can we do to advance social justice?’”

Please email your ideas and solutions to

Learn more about the UISJ at this link.

Dr. Thomas

Alumnus and retired police officer turned college professor offers perspective on nationwide protests

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Dr. David Thomas, who earned his Ph.D. from Union in 1978 with a concentration in Forensic Psychology, is a retired police officer and current Justice Studies Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

In this interview, he offers a candid, insightful, and first-hand account of the many problems between police and minority communities, and contextualizes his experience within the events happening in cities across the nation.

He served as a police officer in Michigan and Florida, retiring from the Gainesville Police Department after more than 20 years. Throughout his career in law enforcement, he served in various roles, including patrol officer, detective, street crimes division, SWAT, hostage negotiations, and community policing. In addition, he trained other officers in many of these roles.

Dr. Thomas is also a veteran and certified expert in the use of force. His research interests focus on police ethics, victimology, serial homicide, and inmate populations.

His book “The State of American Policing: Psychology, Behavior, Problems, and Solutions” outlines a detailed description of police culture and systemic bias against minorities that continues to plague us in today’s society. He also discusses possible solutions.

Learn how Union can enhance your career with a Union degree at this link.

Dr. Geri Maples

Alumna is named Elizabeth Dole Caregiver Fellow

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Geri Lynn Maples, Ph.D. 2019, has been named an Elizabeth Dole Caregiver Fellow.

Elizabeth Dole Fellows are the heart and soul of the Caring for Military Families program at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The foundation was founded in 2012 by Senator Elizabeth Dole to raise awareness, honor, and support the 5.5 million military caregivers who care for our nation’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. Caregivers often face a fractured, varied, and bureaucratic system poorly designed to support our nation’s wounded warriors in the home. Each year, 25 to 30 fellows are selected from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. They are spouses, parents, or other family members who provide the care.

Senator Dole called Dr. Maples last week to congratulate her on the selection.

“Being selected as an Elizabeth Dole Fellow is a true honor,” said Maples. “I am grateful and humbled. I was very excited to speak to her. Her husband, Senator Bob Dole got on the phone too and talked to my husband Robert, an injured veteran. I feel very thankful to be part of this great organization dedicated to helping caregivers and our loved ones injured in war.”

Caregivers often don’t realize they serve this important function. Many are thrust into the role and don’t think to identify themselves as such. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, in partnership with the Rand Corporation, is conducting extensive research that is exposing the physical and emotional effects of the duties. Their findings serve as a tool to recognize the importance of the caregiver role with their veteran.

“There is not a one-stop shop to turn to when you become a caregiver. Resources are often far and few between and vary from locale to locale,” said Maples. “For example, wounds can be either visible or invisible. Rural caregivers may be miles away from hospitals and therapy. Getting a diagnosis takes time and may involve numerous doctor visits. The injured veteran is often unable to work, causing economic hardship. The family dynamic is changed forever. The Dole Foundation is trying to collaborate, drive research, advocate, and change policy to help caregivers care for veterans. Senator Dole is a caregiver herself. She is shining a light on caregivers by telling their stories and offering a platform to work with local, state, and national leaders to make significant and cohesive change.”

Maples knows this scenario too well. Maples had to learn how to advocate for her husband starting in 2004 when her husband returned from serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I noticed he wasn’t the same person and I was going to be in this fight by myself. My husband wasn’t going to be okay and I would have to take a leadership role to help him,” said Maples. “I have spent many days and nights in physician offices, emergency rooms, and surgical waiting rooms looking for answers. I found very few resources for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Maples turned to higher education to help her in her quest to care for her husband. She earned a master’s degree in Human Service Counseling: Military Resilience, a degree geared toward understanding and supporting the mental, physical, social, and spiritual challenges facing veterans. She served as Military and Veterans Family Program Director with Union Institute & University and helped develop the university’s inaugural Military & Veteran Program. She chose Union for her Ph.D. Her dissertation, Surviving the Invisible Wounds of War: As Told by The Unseen Heroes raises awareness on the educational needs of military spouses, caregivers, and dependent children and is available through Barnes & Noble.

“I went back to school to learn what was happening to my husband. That information made me a better caregiver and to get him the tools he needed to function every day.”

Maples wants to help other caregivers have that same opportunity.

“The Elizabeth Dole Caregiver Fellow designation offers me a platform to speak on behalf of my fellow caregivers,” said Maples. “My goal is to educate Ohio legislators and the community on the need to offer scholarships to caregivers so that undergraduate degrees are tuition free for them, very similar to the Ohio War Orphan & Severely Disabled Veterans’ Children Scholarship Program.”

Maples currently serves as the chapter director of the Dayton, Ohio Blue Star Families, an organization founded by military spouses, dedicated to strengthening military families by connecting them with their neighbors, individuals, and organizations to create vibrant communities of mutual support. (Source: Blue Star Families)

She also founded Operation Mission Insight, a nonprofit that gives back to the community.

“What I do every day is an honor! I am blessed with the opportunity to give back to my husband, who is my hero, and my champion. Each day I watch him continue to act in bravery. No matter what amount of pain he is in, he continues to fight, starting by placing his feet on the floor each morning. This work is not about me. It is about the caregivers and military families who do so much to keep this country free.”

Discover how a Ph.D. can transform your career at this link.

Stay Connected: Union alumni respond to COVID-19 (Third Edition)

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Welcome to the third edition of Stay Connected where we share how Union students and alumni are responding to the pandemic.

Stay Connected during these challenging times by sharing information, helpful tips, and encouragement to your fellow Union students and alumni. Send your updates, ideas, comments, and questions to: or to or connect with us on SHARE YOUR STORY.

Alumna incorporates videoconferencing platforms so students and incarcerated youth don’t miss a beat

Alumna Tamara Alexander. Ph.D. 2015, co-director of the Fowler School of Law Mediation Clinic at Chapman College in Orange, California, knows distance learning works. She experienced it first-hand when earning her doctoral degree at Union through its rich online learning environment. Alexander’s focus was on public policy and social change.

When state mandates required everyone to stay at home to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, she quickly created a platform for her students and the incarcerated youth they serve to meet virtually. “There is absolutely no reason why our learning and delivery needs to hiccup,” said Alexander in a recent interview with the Chapman University newsroom.

Alexander is co-director of Fowler School of Law Mediation Clinic that incorporates real-world understanding for law students to develop and practice mediation skills under the supervision of experienced attorney mediators. Students may participate in the Mediation Clinic at the Riverside or Orange County Superior Courts, the Riverside County Criminal Justice Dispute Resolution Clinic, or the Riverside County Restorative Justice Program. These valuable services are provided pro bono to the community.

Her law students have been able to continue their important work with incarcerated youth in the Restorative Justice Program delivering conflict resolution skills.

Dr. Alexander’s Union dissertation research investigated the convergence of evidence to understand how a church advanced itself as a moral entrepreneur within the policy arena to align against LGBT equality. Her dissertation is titled, “Exploring the LDS Church’s Wins in Two Same-Sex Marriage Elections: Mobilizing Members, Election Strategies, and Message Framing,” and was completed under the supervision of Mary Ann Steger, Ph.D.

Read more about Alexander and her important work at this link.

The show must go on

Alumna Dafna Moriya, Ph.D. 2015, was in the second week of her solo art exhibition, “Hidden details/ Dafna Moriya” when the pandemic hit and everything began to close.

“The disappointment was huge. Inspired by my studies at Union, I was looking for a way to turn this into an act of resilience. I created a video and invited people to a virtual tour of my show. The response was amazing. People found it to be “a moment of tranquility” and a “healing experience.”

Moriya credits her philosophy to turn adversity into advantage to her Union experience.

“Studying at Union influenced my thinking in many ways. Coming from a more traditional approach to research, the notion that the personal can and should inform academic thinking was new to me. As a result, my daily work, my workshops, and my book, Navigating Visual Imagery and Verbalization, now integrate my personal, artistic and academic thinking.

My personal experience with the exhibition led me to share the video with the world and also inspired me to conduct an international survey regarding other people’s experiences with art during “Corona-time.” (The survey is still open. To participate please write to

Dr. Moyira also reflects on seeing her story through her peers’ eyes, which gave her a new appreciation to the importance of resilience for her family, country, and humanity.

“My experience as the only Israeli student in my cohort, and sometimes the only Israeli person my peers have met was eye-opening too. While my family’s story is very common in Israel, at Union, I had the opportunity to tell it “from the outside.” This is the story of refugees who were fortunate to escape Europe in time before World War II. Others in my family, who stayed were all killed in the concentration camps. My grandparents, a young couple with two children, left everything behind and came to Israel. There is no stage in our narrative that even includes the word refugee. The history books have a chapter for the holocaust, and then for revival.”

Dr. Moriya is the founder of the Center for Art-based Research and Change. An artist, independent scholar, and educator, she gives lectures and leads workshops around the world. She teaches and supervises art-based researchers, art therapy practitioners, and supervisors, is involved in art-based activities for social change, and exhibits her own art work.

View Hidden Details/Dafna Moriya at this link. To participate in the international survey regarding other people’s experiences with art in “Corona-time” email

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