Women’s History Month Spotlight on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – “To be supreme in service to all mankind.”

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To be a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA) is to be part of something larger than yourself.

Kristina James

“Membership is a commitment to a lifetime of service,” said Kristina James, 2016 Union alumna (Master of Science in Organizational Leadership), and a management consultant with Accenture. “The sorority has shaped me as a woman, a leader, a friend, and a servant. AKA is a safe place to test ideas. Being a member of AKA means everything to me.”

Tammy Richardson, Ph.D. student, and a director at Microsoft, echoes that sentiment. “As an AKA, I am always looking for ways to make life better for everyone. The sisterhood bond is forever. I spent 25 years with P&G, then moved across the country to take a position with Microsoft. My first call was to my local AKA chapter.”

Union Institute & University President Karen Schuster Webb is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, as was her mother. Dr. Webb reflects on the organization’s historic legacy. “The founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority epitomized the self-empowerment of women who were determined to make an indelible difference in the world, as did our Soror, Vice President Kamala Harris with her historic victory,” says Dr. Webb. “ I am proud to be an AKA, and it is very special for me to know that globally I can find a sisterhood of women who are dedicated to excellence, share my passion for the cause of social justice, and who are dedicated to serving humanity.”

The sorority, founded in 1908 on the campus of Howard University, is the first Black women’s sorority in the country and part of the Divine Nine. “The Divine Nine consists of the nine Historic Black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities, six of which were founded at Howard University, a historically Black college or university (HBCU’s) and three were founded at predominately white institutions (PWI),” said James. “It’s important to remember that HBCUs were founded to educate students of African-American descent. People of color were denied admission to most higher education institutions, campus clubs and groups.”

James and Richardson are both graduates of HBCUs. James graduated from Florida A&M in Tallahassee. Richardson holds her undergraduate degree from Grambling State University in Louisiana.

AKA boasts a membership of 300,000 across 1,026 chapters in 47 states and one U.S. territory, and 10 regions in nine countries, including the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Japan, Liberia, South Korea, the U. S. Virgin Islands, and the United Arab Emirates. Its mission has remained the same since AKA’s founding 113 years ago: High scholastic and ethical standards, unity and friendship among college women, improve the social stature of girls and women, maintain a progressive interest in college life, and “Service to All Mankind.” (Source: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated)

For Kristina James, AKA is a family affair.

“I was introduced to AKA by my mother. She has been a member for 51 years. Several of her friends are sorority members and those friends are like family. This is just one example of the rich sisterhood AKA offers,” she said. “My sister and sister-in-law are members too. When we attend conferences, it’s a true family affair.”

At the age of 30, James was elected as president of the Sigma Omega chapter, the graduate chapter located in Cincinnati.

“Being president at such a young age was a great accomplishment. Because AKA provides professional development, I felt ready to accept this challenge,” said James. “The experience helped me learn patience, leadership skills, expectation management, and collaboration skills. These skills have enhanced me personally and professionally.”

Tammy Richardson

Tammy Richardson is not a legacy member, but she holds another distinction:  “I was the first in my family to go to college and I graduated summa cum laude from Grambling, then went to Tulane for my master’s, where I also graduated magna cum laude.”

Her passion is learning. Union was her only choice for her doctorate because of its focus on social justice. Her concentration in Public Policy & Social Change and MLK Studies Specialization will help her move toward her goal to uncover the roots of racism.

“I am passionate about uncovering the roots of racism. Why is there such prejudice? I want to change things. At some point, I may run for public office in my home state of Louisiana as a way to change racism. I want to be mayor of my hometown, governor of the state, and maybe a U.S.  ambassador.”

Both Richardson and James point out that AKA has high expectations. Both are very proud of Vice President Kamala Harris. Richardson explains, “Kamala’s path was not a given. She knew she had the support of her AKA sisters. It was so exciting to hear her refer to her AKA sisters and HBCU brothers and sisters as family at her nomination for vice president.”  Source: (Kamala Harris’ Address to 2020 Democratic National Convention)

James proudly points out that Harris is not the exception. “We have exceptional talent in AKA. The expectation for AKA is to be great. I think our founders 113 years ago knew they were starting something great even though they were just a generation removed from slavery.”

Both are very proud of the program targets set by International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover, Ph.D., J.D., C.P.A., elected in 2018, who will serve through 2022. Dr. Glover is president of Tennessee State University, also an HBCU. Her theme is Exemplifying Through Sustainable Service. Chapters engage in five program targets (see: AKA Program Targets) to accomplish their goals:

  • Target 1: HBCU for Life: A Call to Action – Encourage students to attend HBCUs as a sustainability measure and financial sustainability.
  • Target 2: Women’s Healthcare and Wellness – Raise awareness of health issues that impact African-American women with a focus on breast cancer, heart health, nutrition and wellness, and care for caregivers.
  • Target 3: Building Your Economic Legacy – An emphasis on financial planning, asset accumulation, and wealth building.
  • Target 4: The Arts! – Emphasize and showcase students to the visual and performing arts with an emphasis on Salute to the Harlem Renaissance and Salute to the Black Arts Movement.
  • Target 5: Global Impact – Enlarge the international footprint of AKA

Another source of pride is Dr. Glover’s call to raise $1 million dollars in one day, a target the sorority has reached for the last three consecutive years.

While the signature colors of pink and green and wearing pearls reflect the members’ adherence to their sorority, the real distinguishing characteristic of an AKA member is servant leadership. James and Richardson sum up their membership this way.

“Servant leadership is what connects us as human beings. We are not on this earth for ourselves. When we serve others, we help everyone. If we have been given talents and education, we have a responsibility to live up to AKA’s credo, ‘To be supreme in service to all mankind.’

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U.N.’s World Day of Social Justice resonates with Ph.D. students through Penumbra, Union’s journal of critical and creative inquiry

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The United Nations sets aside February 20 annually to observe an international day of Social Justice. Students in Union’s Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies examine social justice within a context of academic excellence every day of the year.

One vehicle Union has created to examine and further social justice is Penumbra, the official, refereed, scholarly journal of the Ph.D. program. It is a joint project between students and faculty, giving students the opportunity to promote their scholarship and to experience publishing that scholarship.

Created by and for Union students in 2012, Penumbra now features seven issues. The publication’s content is designed to disrupt and challenge injustice through interdisciplinary studies and critical scholarship. Penumbra is managed by Union Ph.D. students, who, in turn, are advised by Union faculty.

Fearless painted by Ph.D. alumnus Raul Manzano depicts the resilience of the brave ones to overcome threats, suffering, and adversity to defend and preserve the race’s survival and evolution. Click the image to read more about this painting and artist.

Current editor Kristen N. McNutt explains the significance of the journal: “Penumbra’s purpose is to promote theoretically informed engagements with concrete issues and problems through critical scholarship. The journal publishes socially engaged, innovative, creative and critical scholarship with a focus on ethical and political issues in the four concentrations of the Ph.D. program. (Educational Studies, Ethical & Creative Leadership, Humanities & Culture, and Public Policy & Social Change). With Union’s interdisciplinary focus, we are able to look at the vast perspectives of social issues and seek to address injustice through scholarship, which is embraced by Penumbra. Penumbra supports students to develop their voices as social justice scholars and provides an opportunity to push the boundaries of scholarship to support social change. This can be rare in academia and publishing.”

In addition, the process of getting published can be daunting, with few opportunities for students.

“Penumbra offers a safe space for the newer scholar to gain experiences in the publishing process as a whole. It’s an opportunity to develop a voice as a scholar without judgment,” said McNutt. “Most importantly, students at Union have the opportunity to participate in the full publishing process. Not only are students encouraged to submit papers or creative works from their courses or dissertation, but students at Union also have the opportunity to participate in all the facets of the publishing process.”

Each year students are encouraged to apply to serve on the editorial team, with calls of positions sent out each year. Additionally, students can serve as peer reviewers alongside faculty. Submissions are judged through a double-blind peer-review process by a faculty and student reviewer.

Another area of focus is learning how to publish.

“Publishing a scholarly article can be confusing and frightening. Submission criteria often requires the student to adapt their research to the requirements of the journal. The process for submissions will vary from journal to journal, so this is a real-world chance to learn,” said McNutt. In academia, there is an expectation to publish.

Karsten H. Piep, Ph.D. doctoral faculty and current chair of the journal’s faculty advisors, offers this view: “While not a prerequisite to obtaining the Ph.D. degree, the publication of one or two articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Penumbra gives doctoral students a head-start in establishing themselves as scholars within their fields. An excellent dissertation will no doubt open many doors inside and outside of academia. But, in an increasingly competitive academic job market, doctoral students and recent graduates with a record of conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications will have a clear advantage. And those who are not pursuing academic careers should also consider publishing their research in peer-reviewed journals, for this remains the most effective way to engage with the wider scholarly community.”

The current issue, Enough, was published in August 2020.

McNutt expands on the current issue: “This seventh volume of Penumbra emerged at the intersection of the 2020 presidential elections, the global pandemic, and the racial justice protests and reckoning after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Both the pandemic and the protests drew attention to ongoing and systemic racial, class, and gender disparities in the United States and around the world.”

The issue tells a story of the complexity of achieving social justice. The articles, poetry, and visual arts contributed by the authors and artists shed light on the contested spaces to bring social justice issues out of the shadows through an interdisciplinary lens. Using poetry as a medium, Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan calls into question the white picket fence of the American Dream. In her poem, Light ’em Up America, Nuzzo-Morgan asks, “Who the hell were Ozzie and Harriet anyhow, right?” Through the autobiographical narrative of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me (2015), Chinelo Ezenwa utilizes close reading to deconstruct the black experience of the American Dream. Larry Ellis, in “In Search of My Mother’s Garden”, examines the intersection of race and gender by discovering the creativity of his mother and grandmother’s gardens. By deconstructing Beyoncé Knowles’s music video and Super Bowl performance of “Formation,” Nena Carpenter explores the singer’s emancipatory artistry that she brought into the living rooms of America. In her conceptual essay, “One Heroine’s Journey through the Dissertation,” Angela Kraemer-Holland explores her challenges and resilience in completing her doctoral dissertation. Taking a social science turn, Kei Graves traces the exploitation of adjunct faculty. Tamara White’s “Flying by the seat of my pants,” asks viewers to examine the complexities of social justice implications of living with diabetes. On a different note, Sherri Moyer, in her poem, “Within My Lane”, wrestles with family and social norms that can keep people silent to injustices.

Woven within all the pieces included in this volume is a call to end racial, social, gender, and economic injustice. However, for change to occur, we cannot be afraid to move from our comfort zones and say, “ENOUGH.”

No Breath was painted by Ph.D. alumna Tamara White. Tamara focuses her visual pieces on the intersection of art, social justice, and health equities. Click on the image to read more about the interpretation of this visual piece.

A special section, “The Politics of Breath: Pandemic to Protest,” was also published in 2020 to better illustrate how issues can intersect within oppression so differently within daily lives. “This volume tells a story of the complexity of achieving social justice. The articles, poetry, and visual arts contributed by Union authors and artists shed light on the contested spaces to bring social justice issues out of the shadows through an interdisciplinary lens,” said McNutt

While typically published annually, students in the MLK Studies Specialization asked to develop a special edition to be published later this year. Ph.D. students Bryon Garner and AC Panella are co-editors.

“This special issue grew out of some of the important activist work that our MLK studies produce. Our hope is to do a special issue each year highlighting a different element of the Ph.D. program,” said Panella. “I believe that one of the elements that makes Union unique is that we take an interdisciplinary approach not just to academics but also to bringing scholarship into and with social justice movements. This special issue will highlight how activism and academics are both ways of supporting social change.”

Submissions are invited from a variety of genres – including creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and visual works that address any aspect of the journal’s mission and scope. Submissions will be accepted from Union alumni, graduate students, junior scholars and university programs – including programs in Africa, where Union has recently worked to develop Ph.D. programs. Critical and creative voices who are established in their fields are also invited to submit.

Learn more about Penumbra.

About Kristen N. McNutt

Kristen N. McNutt is a scholar-practitioner completing a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Public Policy and Social Change at Union Institute & University. She holds a Master of Nonprofit Management from Regis University. Kristen has studied women and gender studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels, earning a Bachelor of Science at Northern Arizona University and a Master of Arts at the University of Northern Iowa. Her research is in decolonial and feminist theories, epistemologies, and methodologies with a focus on gender policy and postconflict reconstruction. Her dissertation research will focus on a comparative analysis of Ministries of Gender/Women and gender mainstreaming in postconflict state-building in Africa.

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Authors of Union

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Welcome to Authors of Union, highlighting our many published authors. Each month, we will highlight our accomplished community of writers who are transforming lives and communities.

Peter Lazes

From the Ground Up: How Frontline Staff Can Save Americas Healthcare

Dr. Peter Lazes is passionate about transforming the healthcare system. He believes, “All Americans deserve and should have access to high quality, affordable healthcare services delivered by professionals who have sufficient time and resources to care for them.” His new book, From the Ground Up: How Frontline Staff Can Save Americas Healthcare, (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2020); written with his wife, Marie Rudden, M.D., the book presents proven and practical approaches for redesigning healthcare organizations. By tapping into the experiences of frontline workers, the organizations will be less fragmented and more patient-centered. Their work focuses on identifying and finding solutions to access and quality of care issues. They share case studies of the use of Labor-Management Partnerships to improve patient care and to redesign healthcare organizations.

Harvard Business School professor, Amy C. Edmondson, author of  The Fearless Organization urges healthcare leaders to read this book. “Everyone in a hospital leadership role should read this book as it offers a wealth of practical advice for organizations intent on improving their clinical care delivery.”

Mitchell H. Katz, MD, CEO and President, NYC Health + Hospitals encourages healthcare leaders to use Lazes’ book as an important roadmap for identifying and creating changes. He says, “…as you read this book you will not only learn the successful techniques of engaging and supporting frontline staff but will also be inspired to improve healthcare wherever you work.”

Dr. Lazes is a specialist in organizational change, leadership development, and Labor-Management Partnerships. He is also the founder and former director of the Healthcare Transformation Project and Programs for Employment and Workplace Systems at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where he has served for 40 years. He has worked with labor union and management leaders in the U.S. to customize and implement strategic worker participation programs. His recent work involves assisting hospitals and healthcare organizations to develop methods to improve patient care and reduce costs with a focus on frontline staff engagement.

Traveling extensively in Europe, Dr. Lazes conducts seminars on organizational change and ways to encourage employee-driven innovation opportunities. He has written more than 30 articles on such topics as the creation of agile work systems, new roles for unions in the 21st century, ways to create meaningful jobs, methods to increase civic participation and strategies for keeping American jobs; in addition, he has produced several videotapes on topics such as creating breakthroughs in organizations.

Dr. Lazes received his Ph.D. from Union Institute & University in 1974 with concentrations in clinical and industrial psychology.

Nancy Shiffrin

Game With Variations

Nancy Shiffrin earned her Master of Arts in English studying with Anais Nin. She earned her Ph.D. at Union Institute & University studying Jewish-American women authors. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Quarterly, Earth’s Daughters, Lummox Journal, The Canadian Jewish Outlook, A Cafe in Space, Religion and Literature, Shofar, and numerous other publications. She has received awards and honorable mentions from The Academy of American Poets, The Poetry Society of America, The Alice Jackson Foundation, The Dora Teitelboim Foundation, and most recently first prize in the Angela Consolo Mankiewicz Poetry Contest Lummox Journal 2019. Her poetry collection, The Vast Unknowing, (Infinity Publishing) is available from Her collections, Game With Variations and Flight, are forthcoming from Her recent works include:
FLIGHT. New poems accepted by Two new poems excerpted on
GAME WITH VARIATIONSLove poems; THE VAST UNKNOWINGPoems of the creative life; OUT OF THE GARDEN – a novella invoking Anais Nin. For more information visit

Betty Fox Cooper

Family Vital to Us and Society

Alumna Betty Fox Cooper, Ph.D. 1990, was living a life of purpose, facilitating professional and community development, peace studies, and directing the Adlerian Family Education Center. When she suddenly lost her husband of 62 years, she found herself crippled with pain and grief. This led her to an examination of intensive and extensive contemplation of the past. She journals this experience in her recent book, Family Vital to Us and Society.

Amazon describes her journey as, “While contemplating life experiences, she saw how families had not only been vital to her but were also our society’s change agents. Feelings of gratitude became overwhelming as she saw the love, compassion, and encouragement given to her through the years yet previously overlooked. The book covers her journey of moving from grief to joy, from sadness to happiness, from malfunctioning to functioning, and finding life is enriching and invigorating.”

Check back next month for more Authors of Union and their publications.

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Black History Month Spotlight on Dr. Janet Sims-Wood, conservator of Black history and heritage

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Dr. Janet Sims-Wood

Union alumna Dr. Janet Sims-Wood is a gifted and acclaimed historian, author, publisher, and reference librarian. The 1994 Ph.D. graduate, who focused her doctoral work on Women’s Studies, History, and Oral History, has made it her life’s work to preserve the rich legacy of Black history, especially Black women’s history.

Dr. Sims-Wood began her career in library science in 1972 as a Reader’s Advisor in the Black Studies Division of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. This experience led to her interest and specialization in Black history. “It’s so important to know our own history, heritage, and achievements. It’s also important to get the correct information to the general public. I’ve been recording and researching for over 45 years and I am still learning untold stories and facts,” said the retired assistant chief librarian for Reference/Reader Services at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Sims-Wood is the author of “Dorothy Porter Wesley at Howard University: Building a Legacy of Black History,” which highlights how Wesley helped to create a world-class archive, known today as the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard.

She is the author of Dorothy Porter Wesley at Howard University: Building a Legacy of Black History, which highlights how Wesley helped to create a world-class archive, known today as the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard. “Dorothy’s story is important. She was hired in 1928 and tasked with the job of building and preserving a repository of Black history that didn’t exist. One of the first people she contacted for guidance was Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), who in 1926 founded Negro History Week, the first week dedicated to Black heritage, culture, and achievements, the forerunner to the month-long celebration of Black History Month started in 1976. Dr. Woodson and Dorothy became friends and he helped her unearth material from around the country. Her enthusiasm for the work earned her the name of Shopping Bag Lady. People came from all over the world to use her collection for their research.” A feature on Ms. Porter in JSTOR Daily (August 22, 2018) said, “As a result of Porter’s vision and dedication, Black special collections began to occupy more prominent roles in their institutions, allowing engagement with historically marginalized narratives through the palpable past.” Dorothy Wesley was the first Black woman to receive a library science degree from Columbia.

Another area Dr. Sims-Wood has illuminated is Black women in the U.S. military. Her Union dissertation was titled, “We Served America, Too.” She recalls, “At that time, Union had an office in Washington D.C. I was searching for a novel dissertation topic. I interviewed several women who had served in the Women’s Army Corps (WACS) during World War II, and I decided on four women to conduct an oral history of their experiences.” Her work uncovered that for the first time during World War II, African-American women were allowed to enter the military. The first contingent trained in Fort Des Moines, Iowa. Despite being housed in segregated barracks and forced to use segregated dining and recreational facilities, 36 of the original group graduated and were assigned to Officers Candidate School, Cooks and Bakers School, the Transportation Pool, and the Clerical School.

Dr. Sims-Wood’s seminal research and oral history recordings led to several articles and the creation of the 1993 World War II Black WAC Calendar, the first of its kind. She received a $30,000 dissertation fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete her oral history dissertation. She also earned a $1,500 grant from the D.C. Community Humanities Council to develop a presentation and public program on “Black Women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) During World War II.”

Dr. Sims-Wood’s illustrious career includes her service as founding associate editor of SAGE: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women that published the anthology Double Stitch: Black Women Write About Mothers and Daughters. She is the founder of a small publishing company, Afro Resources, Inc., and also the founder of Cherishing Legacy. She has written numerous publications, including six book-length bibliographies, newspaper articles, print and online journal articles, and chapters in books.

Dr. Sims-Wood is a life member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH). She served as national vice president and chair of the Membership Committee of ASALH for nine years. She advises librarians who are entering the field to become involved in their communities and organizations. She credits her association with and service to ASALH, and ABWH with her drive and the opportunities she has had to share African American history with the public.

Her distinguished career preserving Black history has been recognized by many. She is the recipient of the Lorraine Anderson Williams Leadership Award from the Association of Black Women Historians. In 2012, she received the Mary McLeod Bethune Service Award from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She was awarded the James Partridge Outstanding Award for African American Information Professionals in 2014. In 2015, she was awarded an Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association for her book on Dorothy Wesley. In 2018, she received the Harriet Ross Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Baltimore Black Heritage Tours (BAAT), along with a Proclamation from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
Her achievements are many and varied. Please visit The HistoryMakers profile on Dr. Sims-Wood for an outline of her remarkable career.

Union is a global leader in providing higher education degrees for the adult learner. Your Goals. Your Success. Your Union. We’ve Got U! Visit to learn more.



Union Institute & University welcomes new trustees

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The Board of Trustees of Union Institute & University have elected Dr. Edwin C. Marshall and Mr. James A. Hyatt to the board effective January 28, 2021. The appointments are effective through January 2025.

Union President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb looks forward to the new trustees’ contributions. “Dr. Marshall and Mr. Hyatt are seasoned higher education administrators. They are both innovators in higher education with experience in diversity, financial management, and research. Their insights and knowledge will assist us as we continue to move forward in our mission to educate highly motivated adults who seek academic programs to engage, enlighten, and empower them to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.”

Dr. Edwin C. Marshall

Edwin C. Marshall, OD, MS, MPH, FAAO, FNAP is professor emeritus of Optometry at the Indiana University School of Optometry and professor emeritus of Public Health in the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and the Indiana University School of Public Health – Bloomington. Prior to retiring from Indiana University in 2013, Dr. Marshall also served Indiana University as vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs. Before appointed vice president in 2007, he was the associate dean for Academic Affairs and Student Administration at the IU School of Optometry.

Dr. Marshall has served as chair of the National Commission on Vision and Health, chair of the Executive Board and vice president (USA) of the American Public Health Association, and chair of The Nation’s Health Editorial Advisory Committee. He is a past president of the National Optometric Association, the Indiana Optometric Association, and the Indiana Public Health Association. He also served as a United States Public Health Service Primary Care Policy Fellow and as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Public Health Approaches to Reduce Vision Impairment and Promote Eye Health and the National Eye Health Education Program Planning Committee of the National Eye Institute.

Dr. Marshall is a distinguished practitioner and fellow of the National Academies of Practice and a Diplomate in Public Health and Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. He is a recipient of the Tony and Mary Hulman Health Achievement Award in Public Health and Preventive Medicine from the Indiana Public Health Foundation, the Indiana State Health Commissioner Award for Excellence in Public Health, the Distinguished Service Award from the Vision Care Section of the American Public Health Association, the Distinguished Hoosier Award from the Office of the Governor, the Carel C. Koch Memorial Medal from the American Academy of Optometry, the Person of Vision Award from Prevent Blindness Indiana, and the William “Bill” Mays Minority Health Titan Award from the Indiana Minority Health Coalition.

Dr. Marshall was named the Indiana Optometrist of the Year (2006) by the Indiana Optometric Association and the National Optometrist of the Year by both the National Optometric Association (1976) and the American Optometric Association (2007). In 2009 he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame. In 2017 the Indiana Optometric Association honored Dr. Marshall with the Indiana Optometry Lifetime Achievement Award.

Indiana University has honored Dr. Marshall with the President’s Medal for Excellence, the School of Public Health-Bloomington Founding Dean’s Medallion for meritorious contributions to public health, and the Bicentennial Medal. In 2019 he was honored with the Indiana University Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

James A. Hyatt

James A. Hyatt is a senior research associate and principal investigator at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, at the University of California, Berkeley. He has extensive experience both as a senior level executive at a number of the nation’s major research universities, including UC Berkeley; the University of Maryland, College Park; University of Arizona; and Virginia Tech. He has served as principal investigator on externally funded research projects in the areas of higher education financial management, financial reporting, pension reform and campus safety and security.

From 2008-2010, Mr. Hyatt served as president of the World Institute for Disaster Recovery Management. He is a recipient of the Berkeley Citation for distinguished achievement and service to UC Berkeley and is vice chancellor for Budget and Finance and CFO Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.

During his tenure as vice chancellor for Budget and Finance at UC Berkeley, Mr. Hyatt implemented a new campus-wide financial management system and an interactive campus resource management reporting system (Cal. Profiles). While serving as executive vice president at Virginia Tech, Hyatt was actively involved in the passage of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Higher Education Restructuring Act that provided enhanced operating flexibility to Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

Mr. Hyatt received both his bachelor’s degree in English and his MBA in accounting and operations and systems analysis from the University of Washington. He is the author of several books on higher education financial management and is a recognized authority on college and university budgeting, financial management and cost accounting.

Union Institute & University’s leaders are committed to the university’s purpose and mission. To learn more about our trustees, click here.

A pastor puts love at the heart of his ministry and emulates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of forgiveness

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Dr. Clyde Posley Jr. has served as senior pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Indianapolis for more than 20 years. The 2016 doctoral alumnus  (Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Humanities & Culture and a specialization in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies) is passionate in his fight for racial equality and social justice. He also evokes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of love and forgiveness in his work, always reminded of Dr. King’s words, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Dr. Clyde Posley

It was Union’s MLK Studies Specialization that attracted him to Union to pursue his doctoral degree. According to Dr. Posley, “Dr. Thomas Brown, the son of Dr. Andrew Brown Jr., a good friend of Dr. King, was instrumental in my selection of Union for doctoral studies. Dr. Andrew Brown was the face of social activism in the 1960s and 1970s in the greater Indianapolis area. He was a very prominent Black activist and leader in Indianapolis. Dr. King made his abode with him when in the city of Indianapolis. He was also a major catalyst for Operation Bread Basket, a tool of social activism around the country serving oppressed people of color. His son, Dr. Thomas Brown, was instrumental in the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) across the country. He encouraged me to expand my horizons and my leadership skills to advance social justice. Heeding the advice and urging of Dr. Thomas Brown proved extremely fruitful and thus my studies at Union exposed me to social and political philosophy, history, religious studies, literature, and aesthetics. Ultimately, it led to the deep exploration of Dr. King’s ideas, ideals, and creative and intellectual philosophy and how those philosophies intersect with theological principles.”

Dr. Posley explains that Dr. Nancy Boxill, 1998 Union alumna and doctoral faculty member, was also instrumental in helping him determine that Union was the right school for him. “She later became the chair of my dissertation committee. Her broad understanding of the social need to weave philosophy, public policy and theological principles into an intellectual garment for those seeking social justice for all made her presence invaluable to me.”

In addition to his position at Antioch Baptist Church, Dr. Posley serves as the executive chaplain for Pink-4Ever, a breast health education servicing organization. He leads fellow church members in R.E.D. Alliance (Reaching to End Disparities), a faith-based educational program that addresses systemic intervention and culturally sensitive health information related to health disparities and works to provide affordable and accessible breast health services and treatment of breast cancer among Black women in the greater Indianapolis area.
He also participated with 40 Indianapolis area churches to arrange transportation to voting polls in the recent presidential election of 2020. “We helped 20,000 people get to the polls in October and November,” he said. And, more recently, Dr. Posley has helped plan how the elderly can best get access to COVID-19 vaccination centers.

Another significant aspect of Dr. Posley’s work for social justice has resulted in substantive police reform in Indianapolis. Proposal 237, which he helped draft, may be the first of its kind in the nation. Proposal 237 adds four civilian members, to which Dr. Posley has been appointed, to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s General Orders Board. The board sets department policy such as procedures for investigations, arrests, use of force, searches, and seizures. (Source: Fox 59) “I have been instrumental in the new use of force policy implemented by the mayor of Indianapolis with Faith in Indiana, a comprehensive social justice organization that has resulted in the elimination of chokeholds.”

Dr. Posley has served as president of the Pastors and Ministers Division of Union District Baptist Association, located in Indianapolis. He currently coordinates the Racial and Social Justice division in addition to serving as the founding editor of the association’s newsletter, “The Union District Voice.” He authored a comprehensive ministerial training curriculum for Christian ministers titled, Union District Association Pastor’s and Minister’s Conference Ministerial Certificate Program. He is a former instructor in the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. Congress of Christian Education youth division.

Dr. Posley did not grow up thinking he was destined for the ministry. A standout in football, basketball, and baseball, lettering in two sports in college, he saw sports as his ticket to a better life. “I grew up in a rough neighborhood,” he recalls. “I saw sports and education as my way out.” But, at the age of 21, he says God called him to preach. “I had my first inkling that I was meant for the ministry at 15 after a conversation with my family’s pastor.” His mother was not surprised even though other family members had mixed reactions. “She told me my grandparents foretold my calling.”

Dr. Posley expanded his doctoral dissertation, The embodiment of the Black male student-athlete: A case study of the 1968 medal stand protest, into his 2018 book, More than Icons and Images: Uncovering the Hidden Protest Narrative of American Black Athlete in the 21st Century that was spotlighted on C-SPAN in January 2019.

Dr. Posley’s doctoral dissertation: The embodiment of the Black male student-athlete: A case study of the 1968 medal stand protest, is an exploration of the protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City when athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in protest as a symbol of black power and the human rights movement at large. His dissertation expanded into a 2018 book, More than Icons and Images: Uncovering the Hidden Protest Narrative of American Black Athlete in the 21st Century, spotlighted on C-SPAN in January 2019. Dr. Posley provides a historical context to current American socio/political protests among Black athletes and draws upon his knowledge of sports and racism to show the intersectionality between politics, race, and sports in America.

“Beginning with the Mandinka warriors who were forced to engage in slave fights by racist plantation owners for over 150 years, sports have consistently emerged as an inter-woven part of American society. Equally notable within sports’ social emergence throughout this time-span is the evolving intersectionality between politics, race, and sports. Racial disparity within front-office leadership, backlash for voicing political abstention from patriotic traditions, and salary inequity relating to gender are just a few of the political issues embedded in America’s extensive historic fascination with sports. It is … reasonable, and for many understandable, that the axioms of athletic struggle and social power struggle would intersect and create political theater in the U.S. Throughout the history of the American political landscape’s evolution, there has existed a type of interconnectivity tethering race, subjugation, and notions of political progress or cultural domination to class and culture,” says Dr. Posley.

“It is my hope that grappling with the nuances of the fascinating synergy between sports and political representation and studying the role of athletics and political achievement will forge new avenues of voice among Black athletes,” he says. “You can’t discuss today’s events, the George Floyd tragedy and Black Lives Matter, without the valuable role and influence of Black athletes. To this point, Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James stand at the forefront of Black athletic social activism, and in many ways both are the face and the voice of representation from the U.S. sports world. Oppression and its far-reaching effects and continued economic disparity continue. But to be sure, Black athletes are an undeniable bridge for healing this country.”

When asked what gives him the strength to maintain this fight every day, he credits his wife DiJeana. “My wife is a very accomplished woman with an outstanding corporate career. Yet she has always put her family first. Her love and support allows me to focus on my work.”
Dr. Posley knows the road to racial and economic equality will continue to be hard. He believes a livable minimum wage, increased access to jobs, and some reparation to fill the wealth gap are needed to make the playing fields equal.

But he is not discouraged. His faith sustains him. “Love is the weapon against defeat.”

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The Power of Art and Autism to Transform the World – Don’t Count Me Out

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Human creativity knows no bounds. This is a core belief held by Dr. Temple Grandin, the narrator for the new two-minute trailer for the documentary film, FIERCE LOVE and ART. Alumnus and autism advocate Laurence A. Becker, who earned his Ph.D. in 1980 from Union, with a concentration in Creative Learning Environments, produced the film and its trailer.


“FIERCE LOVE and ART” was produced by Union alumnus Laurence A. Becker, Ph.D. 1980. It’s directed by Ron Zimmerman, who first collaborated with Dr. Becker for the 1981 “With Eyes Wide Open” documentary. Tony DeBlois, who served as the musician for the film, is a savant artist with autism who didn’t speak until the age of 15. Today, Tony plays 23 instruments & has a repertoire of more than 20,000 songs. He sings with perfect pitch & perfect enunciation in 11 languages. He has produced a dozen albums, has his own jazz band, & regularly performs professionally.

Human creativity is woven throughout the film as the nine artists display their various art forms, ranging from music to painting, with the plea, “Don’t Count Me Out.” The film, originally released in 2018, has been re-edited to include a narration by Dr. Grandin, who is also autistic. Dr. Grandin, an expert on autism and animal behavior, describes her life’s work: “to understand her own autistic mind, and to share that knowledge with the world, and aid in the treatment of individuals with the condition.” Grandin is a professor of animal science, consultant to the livestock industry, and best-selling author. This film marks her debut as a narrator.

Dr. Becker, 84, has been compelled to share the human story of savant artists with autism and their devoted parents for more than 40 years. He refers to himself as an “educator aqueduct.” “I’m not the water or the source, but the instrument through which the education flows.” Throughout his career, Dr. Becker has seen how the creative process has transformed many with autism, particularly young adults. “To me, the parents are a real testament to what happens in the lives of children with autism. I have witnessed how families fiercely take charge of their child’s development. It is a testament to the power of art in all our lives,” said Dr. Becker. His mission is to bring awareness of the myriad gifts individuals with autism and other disabilities bring to the world. He plans to market the film to Vimeo, Netflix, and PBS. “We need to realize that all of us are related, and we can all make the world a better place. In the film, FIERCE LOVE and ART, we meet individuals with autism and other disabilities who have been able to transform their own lives, contribute to their communities through art, music, and words. It is because of powerful support and love from parents who bring their children home from what I refer to as solitary confinement on ‘Autism Island.’”

Laurence A. Becker, Ph.D.

Dr. Becker’s distinguished career includes producing the internationally and nationally award-winning film, “With Eyes Wide Open: Richard Wawro.” Wawro was a legally blind and non-verbal artist until age 11. He was misdiagnosed with severe intellectual disabilities and an IQ of 30 when he was a young child, severely limiting Richard’s opportunities to attend regular school and develop communication skills. At the age of three, he began drawing with chalk. He was self-taught and used the unusual medium of wax oil crayons. His work received worldwide acclaim. As seen in the film, Dr. Becker shows there is hope and emphasizes that individuals with unique abilities and the loving support of a family can make a difference in cognitive and emotional skills, and ultimately lead productive lives. Richard’s fans included British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the late Pope John Paul II, who both own one of his works.

“Until 1976, I had never heard the word autism,” says Dr. Becker. “By chance, I attended an international conference on psychiatry and culture and saw a 10-minute film about Richard Wawro that changed my life. That was the start. I knew I had to make a film about Richard. I went to Scotland, to meet him and was overwhelmed with his story, his art, and his family.”

Dr. Becker’s doctoral studies at Union inspired him. “Professor Roy Fairfield was my core professor. He coined a term I had never heard before, ReFIREment. That means to be creative all your life. I have always been inspired to live by that motto,” said Becker. “Union has always been an important part of my life. I have served on 15 Ph.D. committees as a peer and adjunct professor, served on several committees including admissions, and have just been elected once again to serve on the board of Union’s International Alumni Association.”
Since 1976, Dr. Becker has worked with several of the world’s most noted artists with autism. Currently, in addition to sharing the work of Richard Wawro, of Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Becker works with the art of Christophe Pillault, of France, Ping Lian, of Malaysia/Australia, Kimberly Dixon of Texas, Erik Warren of Kansas, Grant Manier of Houston, and Seth Chwast, of Ohio.

Dr. Becker, a prolific writer and sought-after workshop presenter and consultant, is the author of numerous publications, poems, essays, books, and films, including writing the foreword for a book on the prodigy Marshall Ball, author of Kiss of God: The Wisdom of a Silent Child. Recently, Dr. Becker was a presenter at the Global Autism Summit.

Prior to earning his Ph.D. at Union, Dr. Becker served for ten years as chair of the English Department at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, where he founded and directed the Texas Student Film Festival, at the time one of the largest and most successful student film festivals in the United States. He also served as an Artist-in-Schools in Filmmaking in rural Maine while working with the Washington County Handicapped Children’s Program as a film and video consultant. In addition, he worked with Bill Coperthwaite at the Yurt Foundation, an educational foundation that collects folk wisdom from throughout the world. In 1980, he co-authored with Dr. Frederick B. Tuttle Jr., two books published by the National Education Association on gifted education. The indefatigable Dr. Becker was a lifelong tournament tennis player, coach, and bicyclist. He and his wife of 60 years, Rosanne, have three children. Dr. Becker lives his PFE: (Purpose for Existing) that says, “To Experience, To Embody, To Express ReFIREment Each and Every Day of my Life!”
To learn more about Dr. Becker and his work, visit his website at

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Museum Internship Offers Multifaceted Experience

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You would imagine that a doctoral student– particularly a Union learner – has enough to do with balancing career, family, and community commitments, but two Union students took the extra step of participating in a Professional Museum Internship as a part of their Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies Programs.

Tamara White

Tamara White

Kathryn Turley-Sonne and Tamara White interned at specialized museums to enhance their studies and their experience.

Instituted by Union in 2018, the Museum Studies Certificate was developed by Dr. Anu Mitra, a professor in Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program, and facilitator of the Museum Studies certificate. Mitra is active with numerous museums and is a specialist in visual culture, arts-based practices, art, and leadership development. In addition to her full-time load as a professor at Union, she is a trustee at the Cincinnati Art Museum and sits on the Ohio Advisory Board of the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. She is also a long-time docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati.

This innovative 12-credit certificate, one of the few at the doctoral level in the world, provides students with a formal recognition of their scholarly practice in graduate-level coursework. It also provides them with a more robust experience and familiarity with the museum field. Students examine reflective practices of reasoning and skill-based critical thinking to explore alternative, refreshing, and new solutions to old problems.

Turley-Sonne and White found their internships to be enriching and invaluable in real-world experience.

Kathryn Turley-Sonne

Kathryn Turley-Sonne

Turley-Sonne, a Union 2020 Ph.D. Humanities & Culture graduate with a Certificate in Museum Studies, completed her internship at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall, England.

“My dissertation “Curating the Contemporary Art Witch Movement” went hand-in-hand with my interest in visual culture, protest art, and gender studies,” said Turley-Sonne. “I wanted to discover whether there was a traceable connection to images of witches in art from historical artists like Francisco Goya to contemporary artists working with similar images.” Of note is that Dr. Turley-Sonne received the coveted 2020 Marvin B. Sussman Award given to the best doctoral dissertation of the year.

Kathryn in front of the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic (MWM) with Dir. Simon Costin & Mgr. Fergus Moffat.

The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic has the largest collection of magical art and artifacts in the world, having opened more than 50 years ago.

“I was able to study and work on exhibitions and newly donated artifacts, and learn how to prepare items to be sent to other museums on loan. I also sat in on museum meetings, helped with the annual Equinox Conference, developed a draft internship program, and became familiar with the daily rituals of running a small museum,” said Turley-Sonne. “Perhaps the most thrilling participation was to archive the condition of the 8,000 books in the museum’s library. It was an exceptional experience to work with this special and rare collection of texts.”

White is also a 2020 graduate in the Ph.D. Humanities & Culture program with a Certificate in Museum Studies and Design Thinking. Her dissertation focuses on the intersection of diabetes and incarceration. White also has an interest in visual storytelling.

Flying by the seat of my pants by Tamara White

Flying by the seat of my pants by Tamara White. Flying by the seat of my pants depicts the supplies that a person with diabetes must leave the house with every day. It is not as simple as grabbing your phone and keys.

Twenty-Six by Tamara White. Insulin bottles on antique shelf. Twenty-Six represents the age when young adults are ineligible to remain on their parents’ insurance, which has proven deadly for many.

She completed her internship at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.

“My exposure to the museum field through the Contemporary Arts Center was enlightening and the behind-the-scenes experience was both illuminating and invaluable,” said White. “I worked on the Robert Colescott retrospective by assisting with the educational guide that is created for visiting school groups,” said White. Colescott is an African American artist whose art exposes gender and racial stereotypes throughout America. “I am an artist interested in social justice. This participation expanded my visual storytelling skills and enriched my understanding of museum studies. I learned that putting up new exhibitions is not as simple as it seems. There are various facets involved, including conception, board approval, curation, and financial realities.”

White serves on the board of directors at three art institutions and is a practicing artist herself.

“I now have a different perspective of what it takes to run a museum,” said White. “I learned there are many layers to the operation of a museum not seen by the visitor. I will be a more effective board member because of this background.”

Dr. Mitra explains the benefits of a certificate in this growing field. “A Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies combined with the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies can definitely enhance a career by providing a deeper understanding of what it takes to be an agile museum practitioner for the 21st-century museum – one who is always making connections and finding new possibilities in order to keep operations smooth, collections relevant, and visitors inspired.”

Dr. Mitra designed the certificate to focus on the importance of developing new problem-solving skills through visual cognitive skills, as well as developing novel social justice theories through the lens of art – and even leadership principles through visual culture. In addition, her goal is that students learn the skills and knowledge that are the basis for many aspects of museum work. Areas covered include museum management, collection care and maintenance, as well as exhibition and educational program development.

Turley-Sonne and White revere Dr. Mitra’s knowledge.

“Dr. Mitra has so many connections working with curators and museums around the world,” said Turley-Sonne. “I attended Union because of Dr. Mitra and her reputation as a scholar in the discipline. I am a university English professor and I wanted to expand my teaching to include art history and curation. A doctorate in the field would enable me to continue what I love at an expanded level. I also had to have a flexible program because I work full-time. Most museum programs are master’s programs and require you to be in residence. Dr. Mitra responded to my need and created the Museum Studies Certificate. That is the absolute definition of responding to a student’s needs.”

White agrees. “Dr. Mitra’s skill to link art, social justice, and leadership development has had a profound impact on me. I will be forever grateful for her mentorship.”

How will Turley-Sonne and White incorporate their studies in their future plans?

“I am working on a curriculum to start a museum studies program where I currently teach,” said Turley-Sonne. “Because of my studies, I have become involved with my college gallery and hope to work on gallery education and curation and to increase student and faculty engagement. My post-retirement plans include museum education, writing, and arts-based research projects.”

White is interested in creating informative exhibitions that can heighten awareness about diabetes and incarceration for the purpose of creating policy changes in prison medical protocols. Additionally, she has an interest in working on a book that visually compares the American and Norway prison systems.

The Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies offers students the opportunity to combine their passion for art and social justice into a career pathway. In addition to the benefits of an internship, the integrated program of study consists of courses on The Nature of Museums, Design Thinking, Education, and Leadership, Visual Culture, The Art of Social Justice and Leadership, and Leadership for a Complex World. A Special Topics course is also designed for students.

An excellent opportunity to learn more about the Museum Studies Certificate is available in an upcoming webinar with museum expert Deborah Richardson, a native of Atlanta, GA, facilitated by Dr. Mitra on Wednesday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m. The hour-long discussion including a Q&A will examine the lessons Ms. Richardson learned in creating the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. The discussion will also include the unique role museums need to play today as they strive to educate and address issues of equity, inclusion, diversity, and reconciliation. Please join us on Wednesday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m. EST for this informative and free webinar. Register today at this link.

If your career dream is to combine your passion for art and social justice into a career, enroll today in the Union Institute & University Ph.D. Program in Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. Learn more at this link.

Alumna wins the National Book Award for Poetry

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Congratulations are going out from all corners to Dr. Don Mee Choi (Ph.D. 2003), poet and translator, on being named the winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry.

Her collection, “DMZ Colony,” explores lives affected by colonization and war and is described as “a collage of survivor accounts, prose, and quotations with photographs and drawings that takes its name from Korea’s Demilitarized Zone.”

Dr. Don Mee Choi- Photo was taken from

Choi, born in South Korea and now based in Seattle, deftly explores the histories of South Korea and the United States via her return from the U.S. to South Korea in 2016. Powell’s City of Books reported, “Woven from poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. Like its sister book, Hardly War, it holds history accountable, its very presence a resistance to empire and a hope in humankind.”

In an emotional speech at the virtual awards ceremony on November 18, Choi dedicated the award to her father, a photojournalist. “Poetry and translation have changed my life,” she said. “For me, they are inseparable.” (Source: Youtube.)

Dr. Carol Barrett, creative writing faculty in Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, herself a published poet and a 1998 Union doctoral alumna, shared comments from Dr. Choi’s core faculty member, former Union professor, Dr. Minnie Bruce Pratt, who said about Dr. Choi’s prestigious award:

“Don Mee earned her Ph.D. from Union Institute & University in Modern Korean Culture and Translation, with a distinguished essay on and translation of modern feminist Korean poets. In addition to the National Book Award, she recently received a Whiting Writers Award, another note of honor in the poetry world, and has received many other awards since her Union days.”

The highly prized National Book Award for Poetry is one of five annual awards given by the National Book Foundation to recognize outstanding literary work by U.S. citizens. They are awards “by writers to writers,” with nominations provided only by publishers. Dr. Pratt noted that Don Mee’s books have all been published by small experimental presses, rather than larger houses.

“She set her path clearly when she defined the work she wanted to do when she was at Union,” continued Dr. Pratt, “and she has followed it faithfully and brilliantly. It is gratifying to see her reaping this national recognition.”

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A must read: Students write short stories about life’s most tender experiences

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Dr. Tom Frederick holds a copy of LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life written by students from Union Institute & University. Available on Amazon Marketplace.

“Anyone can be a writer. That includes you. Every person has some great idea or experience that is so unique that it can become an excellent story. To become a writer, a person just needs to find that special story, that story that has never been told in that exact way, and birth it into art.”

So says Dr. Tom Frederick, professor and National Chair of Union’s General Education program, in the preface of LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life, a compilation of 46 short stories written over the last five years by Dr. Frederick’s students. The collection, edited and published by Dr. Frederick, is now available in Kindle or paperback through Amazon Marketplace.

The project is the culmination of a vision and some hard work by both students and Dr. Frederick.

“I invite every reader to immerse themselves in these treasured universal memories,” he says. “My students are very special. They are predominately adult learners… average age of 37, and each is juggling work, family, and school. What they have in common is experience. Life has given each of them … a unique perspective on life. As you read these stories, you will relate. Humanity is so diverse, yet so similar.”

Dr. Frederick has been thinking about writing a book for some time.

“At first, I wanted to publish my own collection. Then I realized I was sitting on a treasure of student essays from my classes.”

Dr. Frederick sees these stories as “mind movies,” allowing you to picture the events communicated through the written word, where you substitute the character’s names with the names of your own friends and family. The book will also serve as a handbook of “mentor texts” for future students.

Two other aspects make this opportunity stand out. First, Dr. Frederick has ensured that all proceeds from the sale of the publication will go to scholarships for future students in this class. Second, he was proud to tell each of the 40 student writers included that they are now published authors.

Monica Pugh, a former student in the class and 2018 Union graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health, is honored that her work “Grandma’s House” was included. Her offering is a loving remembrance of the cherished summers spent visiting her grandmother. “Not a year passed that she did not bestow some pearl of wisdom upon me…Now as I return to pay my respects, I drive by the vastly aged house and tell my children the stories of my youth.”

“I am grateful for the tutelage received from Dr. Frederick.  My stories are as I remember them, cherished memories,” said Pugh.

Former student Kathrina Currie said, “Honestly, I couldn’t have been more surprised. I genuinely experienced more excitement and pride when I was contacted about this amazing honor than I was when I received my B.A. I never thought ‘published author’ would be something I could say about myself one day, and I am so grateful for Union Institute & University, and the phenomenal educators I was lucky to learn from every day.

Cover of LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life

I have three stories in LITBITS 101, and I would like people to know how nervous I was when planning, creating, and writing these stories. I placed a piece of myself in each one, and I feel that they came out as well as they did because of it. Not to mention the guidance of my professor. If you write about what you know and what you love, it is always an accomplishment.”

Alicia Jones an addictions specialist and mom said, “I feel honored. I would write on my lunchbreaks. I am 55 years old and I am proud of myself. Being a published author is a big accomplishment for me.”

Kevin Burden, a 2016 Bachelor of Science with a Criminal Justice Management major graduate, said the book is something to be proud of forever. “Having a publication of your work is an accomplishment that lives on.”

Kristen Quick, said, “My reaction? I am still in shock, I think, but it is such an exciting opportunity. I am happy my story is out there and has the potential to help someone.”

James Tidwell, a 2020 Bachelor of Science with a Criminal Justice Management major, now a police officer, said he had always struggled with writing. “My supervisors frequently criticized my reports. Therefore, I consistently worked hard to improve my writing skills. I remember how frustrated it felt at times because my supervisors did not acknowledge my efforts. Since earning my degree, I no longer have my reports returned for corrections. When I heard my story was chosen, I felt overwhelmed with a tremendous amount of excitement, pride, and a sense of accomplishment because I did it! Being published made the pain, sweat, and tears I had endured to improve my writing worth every minute. It was emotional because I know how far I had come, and being published was the product of my hard work. I am incredibly proud of myself for never giving up.

Simply put, I felt humbled and grateful because I know how easy it is to go through life without acknowledgment for one’s effort. Thank you, Union Institute & University.”

Dr. Frederick was so inspired by his students that he decided to include one of his own stories in the collection. “Ham Balls,” dedicated to his mother, affectionately recalls the memories this unusual recipe awakens in him. More importantly, his memory evokes the wonderful recipe of love his mother had for her children. Like his students’ stories, these memories are universal and speak to our inner souls, he says.

Dr. Frederick challenges other universities to publish student work.

“All of us now challenge other universities to publish their own similar books,” he said. “This is just the beginning for our Union students. We expect to publish sequels in the future.”

Be sure to include “LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life” as stocking stuffer for that special budding author in your life this holiday season. Remember that all proceeds will provide much needed scholarship funds for future writers.

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