Alumni News

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Union Institute & University Alumni News

  • Dr. Reagan Flowers is a trailblazer in STEM education
    Dr. Reagan Flowers (Ph.D. 2008) remembers well the day President Obama honored her as an African American STEM Champion of Change. “Being honored by the White House as a pioneer in STEM education is one of the highlights of my career,” said Dr. Flowers, founder of C-STEM, the nation’s first...
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  • Native American chief remembered thanks to Union alumni
    After three years of research and archeological efforts, Union doctoral alumni Eric (Ph.D. 2014) and Karen Hannel (Ph.D. 2015), scholars of Native American history, discovered a Florida town named for Seminole Chief Chipco that had been long forgotten in history books. Thanks to their research, the area is now designated...
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  • Alumna is new chief of police
    Bisa French (B.S. 2012) is the new chief of police of Richmond, California, effective August 1, 2020. She is making history as the first woman and woman of color to take the helm of the 150-member department that serves approximately 102,000 residents in this Bay area city. Chief French began...
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  • Alumna treasures her Union experience
    To Dr. Dora Tippens, Ph.D.1997, the Union experience was a rarity, a treasure that should be experienced by so many more students. She credits her academic journey at Union for turning her dissertation into a complete guide for college teachers to interculturalize their business communications coursework and establish new...
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  • Women win the vote – gender inequality remains
    Suffragists marching, probably in New York City in 1915. Photo from Library of Congress. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote on August 18, 1920. The amendment became law on August 26, 1920, after Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the official document...
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  • A legacy of learners
    The Mall family lives by the motto, “Trust the process.” That is just what they did when all four members of the family decided to attend Union at the encouragement of matriarch Dr. Harriet Mall, Ph.D. (1999). “I trace my career back to Union,” said Harriet, now a clinical psychologist and...
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  • Summer 2020 Virtual Ph.D. Residency inspires change
    What does it mean to be Black and patriotic in 21st-century America? Can life-enhancing outcomes positively affect the mentally ill? These are just two of the topics Ph.D. students grappled with at the Summer 2020 Virtual Ph.D. Residency July 2-10, with 90 students and 22 faculty members participating, assisted...
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  • Pay it 1964ward – A Union degree opens career doors
    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...
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  • Thomas Dugger is Union’s First Executive in Residence
    Thomas Dugger, an accomplished nonprofit leader, has joined Union as its first Executive in Residence. The 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,...
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Congratulations 2018 California Graduates

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Union Institute & University California Commencement Ceremony was a day of celebration as over 160 adults received their diplomas and joined Union’s legacy to engage, enlighten, and empower in a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility on August 19, 2018.

Dr. Rhonda Brinkley-Kennedy, executive director of the Los Angeles Academic Center, welcomed the audience and reminded our graduates “there is only one Union Institute & University. It not only transforms our lives, it can – and does – transform the world around us.”

President of Union Institute & University, Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, congratulated the graduates and welcomed them into the legacy of service and leadership that our alumni provide to their communities every day.

Dr. Webb introduced the keynote, Adrienne Lamar Snider, Executive Director for Operations at the Child Abuse Prevention Center. Dr. Webb bestowed the university’s highest honor, the Doctor of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa to Ms. Snider with the following words. “ Ms. Lamar Snider, in recognition of your lifelong dedication to selflessly serve others and to provide pathways to success, it is an honor not only for Union to have you as our speaker today, but also to bestow upon you the university’s highest honor, the Doctor of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa. Through your life’s work, you have become a beacon of service, and one whose work echoes Union Institute & University’s beloved mission to engage, enlighten, and empower all to a life of learning, service, and social responsibility.”

Ms. Snider shared with the graduates that she understood their journey of work, family and courage to pursue their degrees. She reminded them how smart adults are because they possess the kind of experiential knowledge gained only from life experience. She also asked the graduates to think of what’s next in their lives.

Other Highlights included:

  • Grand Marshal – Dr. Birgit Monks, faculty in the undergraduate program.
  • Invocation – Presented by Kent Wilson, a new graduate in Criminal Justice Management.
  • Announcer – Dr. Allison Leggett, lead faculty for the Child and Adolescent Development major
  • Recognition of veterans – Designated by wearing a special red, white, and blue honor cord, in recognition of their service to our country.
  • “America the Beautiful” – Sang by Ms. Ami Bryant and Ms. Mercy Smith.
  • 2018 Mark Dunakin Award for Extraordinary Achievement – Awarded to Sergeant Heather Forsythe in honor of Sergeant Dunakin, a UI&U student killed in the line of duty and presented to a new graduate of the Criminal Justice Management major who serves in law enforcement and who emulates his commitment to community service and academic success.
  • Special thank you – Thank you to the Los Angeles Academic Center staff especially Ms. Camila Pulido, Ms. Katy Sue, and Ms. Brenda Melendez, who coordinated commencement events.

Congratulations 2018 California Graduates! Enjoy the pictures of the 2018 California Commencement Ceremony and connect with us on our Facebook page to see more commencement pictures.

Union’s next commencement ceremony will be the National Commencement on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in downtown Cincinnati.

Discover your UI&U academic path towards a new career.

Union Meets The Need of Childcare Profession

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The child development profession is growing and Union Institute & University (UI&U) is providing the degree needed to excel towards that growing career pathway through the Child & Adolescent Development (CHAD) Bachelor’s program major.

The CHAD program prepares graduates for a variety of childcare careers. Those professions include preschool and kindergarten teachers, childcare director and worker, and child life specialist. In addition, graduates obtain the skills needed to guide the developmental needs of children from infancy through adolescence. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the employment of childcare workers is projected to grow seven percent from 2016 to 2026.

“The CHAD degree offers many career pathways,” said Dr. Guillermina Hernandez, UI&U Site Coordinator, and program coordinator of the University of California, Riverside Extension.

A new community partnership has been formed with Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO), a nonprofit agency that focuses on helping people and changing lives through serving nearly 40,000 persons in 10 counties in California. The goal is to eliminate poverty by empowering individuals and families through an array of community-based programs. This affiliation mirrors Union’s mission to empower adults to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

“CAPSLO wanted a partner that could upgrade the quality of the teaching staff and provide a pathway to a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development. Many of the CAPSLO staff members have their associate’s degree so all they need is additional coursework towards a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Elizabeth A. Pastores-Palffy, Executive Director, Los Angeles Academic Center. “Union is able to fill that need. Union is able to provide classes at CAPSLO sites demonstrating its capability to be flexible and provide an adult delivery model to students regardless of where they live and work.”

“CAPSLO has many programs designed to improve success for preschool children of migrant and seasonal farm workers, overall school readiness and comprehensive child development and family support services to low income families,” said Pastores-Palffy. “UI&U will produce well-educated teachers for immigrant communities. That can only elevate the stature not only of the teachers, but also improve learning that these teachers impart to the immigrant children that they teach.”

Dr. Pastores-Palffy is proud of the affiliated faculty teaching the CAPSLO students. “Many of the faculty members are local instructors who also teach at the community colleges around the area and are very much-involved in the child development community at their respective locales. This partnership is truly transforming lives and communities.”

Enroll in the Child & Adolescent Development degree program now to take advantage of this growth! Click below!

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Dak Kopec

Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Learn how our UI&U graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.
Featured this month: Dr. Dak Kopec

Education: UI&U Ph.D. graduate (2002), master’s degrees (Architecture and Community Psychology), and an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences.

Profession: Expert in human-focused design, award-winning author, consultant, designer, lecturer, former director of Design for Human Health in the School for Design Studies at Boston Architectural College, currently Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Q. What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A. My Ph.D. has meant more opportunity to do what I enjoy; teaching and writing.
For a person who never really liked being a student, getting a Ph.D. was never on my radar. The Union model prepared me for success because it was all about being self-directed. This skill has enabled me to write books, and to remain focused on the development of a career in academia.

Q. What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A. It allows people like me who see and interpret the world in a more unique way. I think a more traditional setting might have stifled my creativity, and my ability to problem solve through innovation. Because Union offers a more interdisciplinary approach to education, I was able to identify and understand overlap and integration of assorted factors that contribute to the myriad of problems that our society faces.


National Police Week Spotlight on Criminal Justice Management Students Luis Martinez and Orrlando Mayes

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Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Luis – I hope that my degree will create more opportunities for me within my agency as well as other agencies. I also hope it will allow me to be more competitive in my promotional career path. It is also important to mention that my degree, will serve an example for my kids and their aspirations in furthering their education when they graduate from high school.

Orrlando – My degree will further my personal and professional development and create career options. My degree also completes a goal I set in the eighth-grade when a teacher encouraged me to go to college.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. Luis – This program is about my chosen career in law enforcement. It covers supervisory, managerial and administrative topics in the law enforcement field. Completing this program as an officer provides great perspective and insight in to a supervisor, and administrative positions in law enforcement.

Orrlando –Law enforcement has always been my calling. A degree in my chosen career will open opportunities that may not have been available without my degree. Union’s criminal justice management program is the right fit for me because of the flexibility of the schedule

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Luis – Union provides the support one needs to accomplish your goal. I had the pleasure of speaking with people from the financial aid aspect, career planning, teachers, administrators, and counselors, and they always told me and they meant it, “Please don’t hesitate to call me for any help.” More important, I was helped each and every time I called. The Union community dedicated its time to help me in reaching my goal. Union provided a very convenient and doable schedule that worked with me, my job and household.

Orrlando – I chose Union because of the flexibility of the classes. I have a lot of personal and professional responsibility and I had to have a college that respected my schedule. Being able to take classes online and work around my busy timetable makes Union the right choice for me.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Luis – At age 49, I returned to school to finish my degree. There is no excuse not to get a degree in today’s busy world. Union really understands your needs and is committed in helping you achieve your goals. Having a degree is a must today, if you want to be competitive and advance in your career.

Orrlando – Never quit. Focus on your goal and you will achieve your objective. I decided in the eighth-grade to get a college degree and I never lost sight of that end.

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. Luis – My father and mother with their hard work and support when they were alive. My dad obtained a Doctorates Degree in Law, and also became an accountant in Cuba. My mom really taught me the difference between right and wrong. My wife and daughters for their support always and especially while I was in school.

Orrlando – The person who has influenced me the most is my grandmother. She has always encouraged me to go after what I want and never give up. I have a wonderful family that served as role models and taught me anything is possible.

Orrlando Mayes

Criminal Justice Management

Union Institute & University’s major in Criminal Justice Management is your path to a rewarding career in law enforcement. Learn more by clicking on the button below.

UI&U and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science Partnership Kicks Off

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Union Institute and University (UI&U) and the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science (CCMS) are answering the call to graduate more students in the mortuary profession.

The agreement will provide students in the Union Pre-Mortuary Science concentration the first two years of general education for the transfer into the CCMS Bachelors of Mortuary Science program.

“This new partnership is an excellent opportunity for both schools and our region as we facilitate a pathway to the mortuary profession,” said Donna Gruber, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Academic Center.

CCMS is the oldest mortuary science program in the country. CCMS students have an 80% pass rate on the national board exams and 94% are offered employment upon graduation. Real world instructors include licensed funeral directors, certified funeral celebrants, and business owners. (Source: CCMS web page)

UI&U is proud to offer students’ credit for their experience through our articulation agreements set up with other regionally accredited colleges and universities. Learn more about each of the agreements UI&U has in place to aid students in getting one step closer to a degree.

Learn more about UI&U and its many academic programs by clicking on the button below.

National Police Week Staff and Faculty Spotlight on Sandra Lee and Larry Hansen

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Q. What excites you about being a part of higher education?

A. Larry – Tom Bodett said, “In school you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” As a life time learner I love the opportunities to interact with students who can share some of their lessons learned in life. In the university classroom most of the students want to be there and are anxious to learn and I thoroughly enjoy that environment. I learn as much from my students as they, hopefully, learn from me. It is the give and take process that enables all of us to expand our level of knowledge. I have learned that each class has its own personality. I try to champion what is truly valuable and important for my students.

Sandra – My passion is working with Public Safety (law enforcement officers and firefighters) and seeing them reach their education goals. As a mother of a police officer, my recruits’ accomplishments mean as much to me as my own children’s successes!

Q. What excites you about being a part of higher education?

A. Larry – I teach, or have taught, at six different colleges and universities. I have taught classes in police academies and classes for Peace Officers Standards and Training. I teach in both the criminal justice and emergency services programs and I enjoy interacting with students who have a heart for public service. Thirty years in law enforcement has given me the opportunity to see firsthand how dedicated the men and women are that strives to serve their communities. I jumped at the opportunity to work with street cops and fire fighters and I love to share their experiences and knowledge. The collaboration format allows great opportunities to learn from each other.

Sandra – I was attracted to furthering my own education because learning is important to me. In 2004, I started in 2004 as a secretary at the Sacramento Academic Center, moving up to enrollments; achieved my B.A. and later my M.A. both from UI&U. I also enjoyed teaching for a short duration.

Q. If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

A. Larry – I teach a class in critical thinking and this is one of the questions I ask my students. When I was 18 years old I made one of the three most important decisions I have made in my life time, when I enlisted in the Navy. I am very patriotic, I love my country. If I could have any job in the world I would be a fighter pilot in the United States Navy stationed on an aircraft carrier. I had an opportunity to briefly serve on an aircraft carrier and marveled at the men and women who fly those planes. I have absolutely no regrets about my career in law enforcement and would do it again without hesitation. But if I could live life again and have any job in the world, it would be a Navy fighter pilot.

Sandra – If I was young and spry, I would do something in the CJ field (my education background is Criminal Psychology).

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. Larry – People are often surprised to learn how much I love to cook. I look up recipes on the internet, and I enjoy perusing cook books. Sometimes I follow the recipe to the letter and sometimes I improvise. Two of my favorite recipes are crab stuffed mushrooms covered in white cheddar cheese and baked in garlic butter. Also, I like to make garlic infused prime rib coated with olive oil and rock sea salt and then slow roasted. I make a great gazpacho soup with baby shrimp and small chunks of avocado. I enjoy preparing entire meals from appetizers to dessert. Sometimes I will take two or three days to research recipes, shop for the ingredients, and prepare the meal. My favorite dessert is made from scratch brownies with Ghirardelli chocolate served warm with homemade French vanilla ice cream.

Sandra – People may be surprised to know I have an excellent memory that serves me well. Recently I ran into a FBI investigator and he was amazed that I remembered him, after meeting him only once before!.

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. Larry – I love almost anything written by John Grisham. I have read at least twenty-four of his books but my favorite was a novel he wrote in 2010, “The Confession”. I read the book quickly and could not put it down. The great thing about this book is it really helped me analyze how I feel about the death penalty. Although the work is fictional, it is based on real life cases. In typical Grisham fashion it was a page turner that kept me on the edge until the last page.

Sandra – My favorite books center on my graduate studies in criminal psychology. The book that I reflect on most is “The Dark Side of Human Behavior” written by a forensic psychiatrist. Not very joyful, but very enlightening!

Larry Hansen

Sandra Lee

Criminal Justice Management

Union Institute & University’s major in Criminal Justice Management is your path to a rewarding career in law enforcement. Learn more by clicking on the button below.