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Union Leaders Follow Mission with Community Service Away from the Desk

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Q&A with Dr. Gladys Gossett Hankins, Board of Trustees Member at Union Institute & University, and Kimbrea Browning, VP of Enrollment Management at Union Institute & University.

Dr. Gladys Gossett Hankins
Board of Trustees Member at UI&U

1. The Links Inc. motto is: Linked in Friendship, Connected in Service. What does this motto mean to you?
The Links, Incorporated motto is a combination of two of my core beliefs about the important connection between friendship and service. It essentially means that if people are going to work together, they should like and get along with each other.

Friendships/relationships are important in every situation where people work together. This is because poor relationships can make the difference between a highly productive work environment that gets great results and one that is toxic where, of course, output suffers greatly. Because The Links, Incorporated is a volunteer service organization, it is practically impossible for a group of people to render great service that transforms lives and improves our communities if it is comprised of people who do not like each other or have good relationships.

2. Why is community service important to you?
As things currently exist with massive economic, educational and social disparities across our country and the world, the only way we will thrive and grow is for those who have the ability and the means, to aid, support, help, coach, and mentor, to give of ourselves and our resources to those who have critical needs but not the wherewithal to meet those needs. Furthermore, it is a privilege and an honor to help others – which ultimately makes the world a better place.

3. The Links, Inc. has five program focus areas: The Arts, National Trends and Services, Services to Youth, International Trends and Services and Health & Human Services. They include all five in the Girls STEAM Academy. Why is the STEAM Academy so important to the mission of the organization?
The Links, Incorporated is an organization comprised primarily of women of African heritage who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the identities, culture and economic survival of people of African origin through cultural, educational and civic programs. As STEAM represents science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, it is intended for those most underrepresented in these fields. Females have historically had fewer opportunities to enter these fields than males. Therefore, introducing and encouraging more African American females to pursue these fields breaks down barriers and smoothes the way for continued progress for all.

4. What impact do you hope your efforts will have on the community you serve?
My expectation and hope is somewhat philosophical. It is that every single effort counts and contributes toward making an even bigger difference. For example, as we are able to positively influence and improve the lives of any, they, in turn, are able and likely to positively influence and improve the lives of others. It’s the ripple effect at its best.

5. How does your community service work relate to your connection to Union Institute & University?
I feel that through my life works, I embody the mission and values of this great institution, even more so since this is the university from which I earned my PhD and which contributed toward my becoming a person who strongly desires to make a difference. It is also a university on whose Board of Trustees I serve with pride.

Kimbrea Browning

Kimbrea Browning
 VP of Enrollment Management

1. The Links Inc. motto is: Linked in Friendship, Connected in Service. What does this motto mean to you?
I truly believe that it is through the service that friendship develops and grows. When we are linked in true friendship our connectedness to the people we serve becomes stronger.

2. Why is community service important to you?
When we serve others we have this amazing opportunity to be heart led in every way. We live in a somewhat selfish “it’s all about me” society that has really taken on the stigma that giving is not what is important. Giving is the most important, honorable, loving act you can display.

3. The Links, Inc. has five program focus areas: The Arts, National Trends and Services, Services to Youth, International Trends and Services and Health & Human Services. They include all five in the Girls STEAM Academy. Why is the STEAM Academy so important to the mission of the organization?
It’s about mentorship and exposure. When we can expose our Girls STEAM Academy to what is possible for them in this world, they can dream. They can envision a life much different than what they thought was possible. It’s an amazing experience witness their excitement at the possibility to dream.

4. What impact do you hope your efforts will have on the community you serve?
My hope is that through whatever efforts of service I provide, I am able to positively impact those I serve. To see the change and impact on others has helped me evolve as a person and I’m most grateful.

5. How does your community service work relate to your connection to Union Institute & University?
As the Vice President of Enrollment Management, my goal is to ensure our mission and vision is felt with each and every student we have the honor to connect with. As a higher education administrator, my best day is when I see or hear stories of this incredible transformation of a student who has put in the work to change their life—the life of their family and future generations. Again to be a witness to this every day, I’m humbled and honored to have an opportunity to serve.

Professional development drives the Gopman Research Fund

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Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman is a believer in excellence, particularly as it pertains to teaching and its impact on improving our communities. Excellence in teaching often includes the capacity to research and data, and that typically costs money. Working with former Associate Provost for Academic Programs Dr. Patte Brewer, Dr. Gopman established the Herbert L. and Dr. Beth I. Alswanger Gopman Research Fund in 2009, with a goal to support the research, scholarly activity, and research-based teaching projects of UI&U faculty and administrators.

By providing funds for professional development of faculty and staff, the Gopman Research Fund encourages excellence in teaching and supports the university’s continued vision to provide students with a relevant education that brings life to Union’s mission to engage, enlighten, and empower adults to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

The Gopman Research Fund, the only one of its kind to date at Union, has allowed our faculty to fulfill professional and personal goals, which in turn, makes them better professors and mentors to our students.

Since its inception, the fund has provided support for four projects initiated and implemented by faculty to further areas of interest and scholarship. The faculty recipients and projects are listed below.

Recipients and Projects

2016 Christopher J. Voparil, Ph.D., Faculty, Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program.
PROJECT TITLE: Richard Rorty and Social Justice.
The grant allowed Dr. Voparil to conduct first hand research on Dr. Richard Rorty, an influential American philosopher and social justice scholar whose papers are archived at the University of California, Irvine. His research focused on two particular dimensions of his work: 1) his theoretical contribution to current debates on justice, using the wealth of unpublished essay housed at UC Irvine; and 2) biographical data on Rorty’s own efforts on behalf of social justice, about which there is little knowledge, including his work with Amnesty International. Dr. Voparil is researching Rorty for a book on his contributions to current debates on social justice and his work with Amnesty International.

2015 Thomas Frederick, Ph.D., Faculty, Bachelor’s programs; Frank Scala, M.Ed., Faculty, Bachelor’s programs and Chair, Education major; Robert Cotter, M.Ed., Director of Information Technology and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning.
PROJECT TITLE: Take One…Action.

This project was a collaboration designed to assist faculty with the development of personally produced videos to be used online as teaching tools. This grant enabled the training of more than 25 faculty members on basic video production techniques. The faculty members who successfully completed the training were rewarded with an Articulate Replay license, a software application that integrates a web camera, lecture slides and narration into a single video file. Faculty can also easily develop screencasts for demonstrations and simulations with this application. The program is being assessed for continual improvement but has made a difference in the quality of Union’s online instruction and student engagement.

2013 Woden S. Teachout, Ph.D., Faculty, Master of Arts program.
PROJECT TITLE: Oral History Project on Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan
Dr. Teachout travelled to Kyrgyzstan as a Fulbright Scholar. She researched bride kidnapping which is a real and ongoing phenomenon in Kyrgyzstan and it has been widely studied by sociologists and anthropologists, but the voices of the participants themselves have not been part of the scholarly conversation. Using the resources and training from the grant, Dr. Teachout mentored Kyrgyz colleagues and a Peace Corps volunteer in developing a large oral history collection: nearly 50 interviews from brides who stayed, brides who escaped, grooms, family members and neighbors. It has been an important project both in terms of capacity development for Kyrgyz scholars and also in providing a perspective on bride kidnapping. She and her primary Kyrgyz colleague just finished editing a book of the histories that will be published in Kyrgyz and Russian, aimed at a Kyrgyz audience so that they have an understanding of the real legacies of this practice. Dr. Teachout is also conceptualizing a book project based on the experience.

2011 Joseph Nolan, Ph.D., Doctoral Faculty.
PROJECT TITLE: Technology for Teacher Preparation and Professional Development in Countries of Crisis and Poverty: A Feasibility Study.
Dr. Nolan’s abstract was a feasibility study of the possibilities of a simplified teacher preparation and professional development to be delivered to countries of crisis, conflict or poverty through e-learning. The purpose of his research was to examine the feasibility of providing, through existing free online learning platforms, social networking, and information networks, to provide preservice teacher education and professional development on a simplistic level in modularized formats to aid the teacher with a scarcity of time and net accessibility.

About the Gopmans:

Lifelong philanthropists, the Gopmans are deeply involved in their local community and staunch supporters of higher education at every level. While studying for her Ph.D. at Union, Dr. Gopman explored the needs of children with mental and physical disabilities, and developed a pilot study focused on the positive and natural socialization of siblings of special needs children within school settings. Her studies culminated in the development of an implementable instructional curriculum titled, Tolerance: Our Voice. She graduated in 2009.
Dr. Gopman and her husband, Herbert, support education and other nonprofit organizations. She serves on the board of directors of the Hearing and Speech Center of Florida, as well as on the Board of Directors of the South Florida Touchdown Club Foundation. In 2007, Dr. Gopman received a certificate of appreciation from the Miami Beach, FL, city commission honoring her work with the city’s Community Development Advisory Committee and the Miami Beach Commission on the Status of Women. She was also recognized for her outstanding community service and giving spirit by the Crescent City Juneteenth Commission which presented the Phillip Randolph Phenomenal Woman Quiet Soldier award to Dr. Gopman in June 2014. She and her husband are also active in bringing attention to problems facing veterans in the United States.

Get the insider perspective of Union’s new Healthcare Leadership degree program

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The new Masters of Science in Healthcare Leadership degree program will focus on the people skills and leadership insights that catalyze organizational transformation and social change. It will also include the most important determinant of long-term leadership success: mentoring. In the Q&A below, Dr. Jennifer Ossege, director of the new MS in Healthcare Leadership program, discusses the significance of the new degree to the healthcare professional.

Q. Why did Union decide to implement the Masters of Science in Healthcare Leadership?

A. Union decided to implement the MS in Healthcare Leadership to facilitate transformation of health care organizations from an emphasis on administration or management to a focus on social justice, leadership, and advocacy, addressing the needs and concerns of vulnerable populations and their ability to access health care systems.

Q. What makes this degree unique for healthcare professionals?

A. Each student is matched with a mentor prior to beginning the program. Mentorship is believed to be the most important determinant of long-term leadership success. Mentors will guide and demonstrate through example how to understand one’s own skills, limitations, and ambitions while fulfilling the needs of the healthcare organization. Mentors will be in regular contact with the student and help the student with many aspects of professional development.

Q. Do you know who some of the mentors are?

A. Mentors may come from a variety of sources. Students may be matched with mentors from the ACHE (American College of Healthcare Executives), or from other qualified mentors working in the field who are interested in professional development of a student, or in some cases, the student may nominate someone to apply as their mentor. The needs of each student will be assessed and the student will be matched up accordingly. The goal is for all mentors to have a minimum of 10 years in the field of healthcare leadership in order to work with our students.

Q. Why is this degree needed?

A. To successfully lead today’s healthcare systems into the future, emerging leaders need more than technical management expertise. They need people skills and leadership insights that catalyze organizational transformation and social change.

Q. What will this degree offer to the healthcare executive they don’t have already?

A. The MS-HCL Program trains participants to be financially successful and innovative healthcare leaders. It will provide the necessary knowledge and skills in administration and management, as well as fostering creative problem solving, ethical considerations, and a strong focus on leadership to assist them in achieving success for their organizations.

Q. What makes the degree exciting and innovative?

A. The healthcare field is changing rapidly and many professionals want to keep up with the trends, and continue to advance their careers. Students will have experience within the healthcare field, which allows for a rich educational experience, particularly as we are using a cohort model, where students will be interacting and learning from one another quite a bit in addition to the more traditional learning environments. The mentorship aspect of the MS-HCL program is particularly appealing and unique, as this allows the students to customize their education and needs, engage in more in depth professional growth and work with leaders in the healthcare field.

About Jennifer Ossege, Psy.D.

Dr. Ossege is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist; Health Service Provider. She is the Director of Masters in Healthcare Leadership Program at Union Institute & University. She also serves as the Associate Director of Clinical Training and Core Faculty in the Psy.D. program in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Ossege received her Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology in 2003 from Xavier University.

Union Institute & University Participates in National Clothesline Project to Align With University Mission

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Union Institute & University Cincinnati and Los Angeles Academic Centers were partners with the Clothesline Project (CLP), a worldwide program that encourages the decoration of t-shirts to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women.

The t-shirts represent the individual feelings of women and men who want to express their commitment to stand against violence to women or have been a victim or witness to domestic violence.

Donna Gruber, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Academic Center, spearheaded the project for Union.

“I wanted Union to participate because I loved the concept of The Clothesline Project, allowing women to tell their story through art while educating others that women are subject to many forms of violence. Using The Clothesline Project as a tool for not only survivors but friends and family to show their support and highlight the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women seemed like a perfect fit, especially for Union which is all about learning, service, and social responsibility.”

The Clothesline Project, begun in 1990, mirrors Union’s mission to educate adults to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility and commitment to connecting scholarship and theory and social justice in its academic disciplines.

“The Clothesline Project is a natural extension of our mission,” said Dr. Roger H. Sublett, president of Union Institute & University. “The t-shirts serve as a visible reminder and, we hope, an education tool for the community to understand that violence against women has impacted tens of thousands of people and that there are solutions.”

Union’s commitment to women also led to the creation of the Women in Union scholarship program, founded in 2009, to support mothers who need financial assistance to return to their education to better their own lives and that of their children. Union also offers a Women’s & Gender Studies graduate certificate.

To learn more about Union and its mission click on the button below.

Union Shares Feelings of Gratitude

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Hear why some of our students, faculty, and staff are thankful this year…

“I am thankful for a supportive and loving family. After passing up so many opportunities in life, I am thankful for second chances.” 
David Ramey; Social Work Major

“I am thankful to be part of a learning community that is focused on issues of social justice and truly values diversity. It is satisfying to have my professional life aligned with my own core values in this way.” 
Dr. Michael Raffanti; Dean, Ph.D. Program in Interdisciplinary Studies

“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it provides an opportunity each year for me to reflect on why I am thankful. I am thankful for all of the people who touch my life each day with a warm greeting, a smile, a handshake, or even constructive criticism; and, I am thankful for the good health that permits me to continue to serve others in order that all of us can celebrate our lives of service. And, most importantly of all I am thankful for my personal and community family who celebrate life’s journey with me each and every day!” Dr. Roger Sublett; President, Union Institute & University

“I am thankful because I have the opportunity to access education that fits within my schedule and overall busy life. My children give me the extra push I need to strive for future success.” 
Jennifer Hansen – Psychology Major

“I’m back in school and it’s not too late to make my world everything I dreamt it could be. Because I’m blessed with four amazing children that teach me more about life than I ever thought anyone could. And lastly, because every single day – in this adventure we call life – we get another chance to start anew. That’s a lot to be thankful for!” 
Kelly Renwick – Psychology Major.”

“My family has been very supportive of my choices with school and in my life. They make sure that I am not overwhelmed with my work and school work and they support me when good things occur. I wouldn’t ask for a more caring family than them!” 
Kimberly Curl – Social Work Major

“I am thankful for my happy and healthy family! I am thankful for a career that I love, living in an environment that I love, and for being a month away from completing my degree!” 
Lisa Schmidt – Early Childhood Studies

“I am thankful for my opportunity to return to school and finish my degree because it will allow me to provide a better life for my family.” 
Sara Smith-Criss; Psychology Major

“I’m thankful for everything in life, because there is no reason not to be. There are gifts and there are lessons, and I’m grateful for them all!” 
Toni Marie Soldano; Director of Enrollment, Florida Academic Center

“I am thankful for all the support from the Ph.D. program! I am thankful for the setbacks, the comebacks, the love and even the hate – the human experience, all of it! Yet having three little people call me their Momma, has to be what I’m most thankful for.” 
Sara Kolks; Ph.D. Student Public Policy & Social Change

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

A Woman Who Thrives On Learning

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“I have a reputation of being a person who seeks knowledge,” said Christina Nelson, an Early Childhood Studies student at the New England Academic Center. “I’m not afraid to ask questions and look for answers. I am anxious to apply skills and best practices in a manner that enables me and the people around me to grow.”

That perseverance has enabled Nelson to build a successful childcare business, Mountain View Child Care, as well as mentor other childcare providers in the Vermont Birth to 5 program, a plan that matches experienced childhood professionals with new and less experienced providers.

“When I started out 20 years ago, the definition of quality was left to interpretation,” said Nelson who mentors 37 providers. “Today research-based methods, professional development and resources are available to help childcare providers be the best they can be.”

Nelson’s love of learning and teaching is how she entered the childcare profession.

“I made a commitment to myself that I would teach my young children something new every day. For example, I would show them a caterpillar for the first time or show them how water flows,” said Nelson. “I had a blended family. There were four children under the age of 6. Money was tight and the different ages made it impossible to put all of the children in day care at the same time. I thought why not open my own place.”

Twenty years later Nelson is still pursuing goals. In addition to running her childcare center and working as a mentor, an instructor for child care professional development, a PD Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition, she is also a certified EMT.

Her professional goal is to complete her college degree.

“A college degree is a sign of professionalism and credibility,” said Nelson. “Union fits my busy schedule and offers the flexibility I need to complete my degree. Who knows, maybe I will serve as a role model for others, maybe my mentees, it’s never too late to complete your college degree.”

Pursue your flexible, online degree today!

Union welcomes new Board of Trustees member Steven Bishop, CPA

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Steven Bishop values education. This is exactly why he has joined the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees. “I believe obtaining a higher education degree is one of the most important things a person can do in his or her life. The knowledge a person gains will help immensely by understanding other perspectives and even your own. I think we should all aspire to have a higher education degree.”

Another goal in becoming a board member is to continue his lifetime mission to give back to his community. “I was raised in an atmosphere of giving back. I have been blessed and I know others are less fortunate. To be able to utilize my skills and resources to support Union Institute & University’s goals is very fulfilling,” said Bishop. “We all have certain gifts and I am honored to bring my skills and services to Union.”

When asked how he would advise a student trying to balance career, family, and studies, he stated? “My advice is to rely on other people to help and know that you don’t have to shoulder all the burdens. Be humble enough to ask for help. Know your priorities and focus on what is important.”

Bishop was asked to identify a book that has influenced him. He noted, “Catch 22, because throughout life one is always confronting inconsistencies and ambiguity.”

About Steven Bishop

Steven Bishop is a CPA and Assurance Senior Manager with Plante & Moran, PLLC, an accounting, tax and consulting firm that provides a full line of services to organizations in the following industries: manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, service, higher education, health care, private equity, public sector and real estate and construction. His volunteer involvement includes the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kalamazoo County Junior Leadership Committee and serving as a board member on the Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity and the International Business Group of West Michigan. He is also currently a member of C-Change Class 11. Bishop is a graduate of Calvin College with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy.

Union Institute & University Celebrates National Commencement

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Union Institute & University’s national commencement was a time of celebration. Over 77 graduates joined the 52-year legacy of highly motivated adults positioned to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility on Saturday, October 8 at theHilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati.

Undergraduate commencers graduated with a bachelor of art or science in the following disciplines: Psychology, Forensics Psychology, Criminal Justice Management; Global Studies, History, & Culture; Environmental Studies & Sustainability, Psychology & Human Development, Psychology with a concentration in Addictions Studies, Arts, Writing & Literature, Comparative Religion and Psychology, Social Work, Business Management, Business Administration, Leadership, Maternal Child Health: Lactation Consulting, Emergency Services Management, Early Childhood Studies, and Organizational Management.

Master of Arts commencers represented several areas of concentration including Health & Wellness; History & Culture; Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Leadership, Public Policy & Social Issues; Psychology; Counseling Psychology; Creativity Studies; Literature & Writing; Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a certificate in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling; and Organizational Leadership.

Union’s doctoral commencers earned degrees in the areas of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Education (Ed.D.) and Psychology (Psy.D.).

The keynote was delivered by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., representative to the U.S. Congress from North Carolina. Her speech was entitled, “Rethink Possible: Stay in the Game.” Dr. Adams told the former students they had invested their time in improving their lives by taking advantage of the many diverse academic offerings at Union and now they were ready to lead their families and communities into the future and to higher plateaus. She commended the graduates and recognized them for rethinking what was possible and staying in the game.

The presentation of awards was presented in the following areas and to the following faculty and students:

Marvin B. Sussman Doctoral Award

Long-time UI&U faculty advisor and philanthropist Dr. Marvin Sussman established the Marvin B. Sussman Award to honor a recent UI&U graduate whose doctoral dissertation is judged to be clearly outstanding in terms of originality, interdisciplinary, social meaning, writing, and overall presentation. A committee of UI&U faculty and administrators nominate and select an annual recipient based on the quality of research and the impact his or her studies will have within the community at large.

2016 Marvin B. Sussman Doctoral Award


Shanon Sterringer, Ph.D., 2016. Empowered by the Living Light: Who Was the 12th Century Nun, Hildegard of Bingen and What Does She Have to Say to Ecclesial Leadership Today?

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. James E. Henderson


Elizabeth Aiossa, Ph.D., 2015. RePresenting the Zombie: Genre, Gender, and Social Protest from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead to AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Christopher J. Voparil

Anita Fowler, Ph.D., 2016.A TribalCrit Perspective on Mohegan Casinos: A Case Study of Assimilation, Sovereignty, and Leadership.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Lois Ruskai Melina

Lisa Ann Newton, Ph.D., 2016. An Investigation of Cultural Intergenerational Trauma or Collective Traumatic Memory as a Social, Economic Barrier for African American Women Entrepreneurs in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Carol Barrett

Ryan Schowen, Ph.D., 2015. Precarity and Affective Labor: Toward a Spatial Ecology of Dispossession.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Christopher J. Voparil

Marlon A. Smith, Ph.D., 2016. Reshaping the Beloved Community: The Experiences of Black Male Felons and Their Impact on Black Radical Traditions.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Colleen C. O’Brien

Union Institute & University Faculty Awards

 The Faculty Awards program provides peer recognition for exemplary efforts and achievements in the areas of teaching, service, and scholarship. This program recognizes that all Union faculty members exhibit commendatory effort on behalf of their students and their professions, and provides an opportunity for faculty members to recognize, on a regular basis, exemplary efforts on behalf of their peers. The awards for Excellence in Teaching are made annually; the awards for Excellence in Scholarship and Excellence in Service are made bi-annually, in alternate years.

2016 Award for Excellence in Teaching


Christopher J. Voparil, Ph.D.,Faculty, Ph. D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program

Recipients of the Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Teaching

Sarah G. Bergh, Ph.D., Faculty, Master of Arts and Bachelor’s program
Anna Blair, Ph.D.,Faculty, Master of Arts and Bachelor’s programs
Andrew J. Harvey, Ed.D., Bachelor of Science program, Criminal Justice Management major

2016 Award for Excellence in Service

Andrew J. Harvey, Ed.D., Bachelor of Science program, Criminal Justice Management major
Diane Richards-Allerdyce, Ph.D Faculty, Ph. D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program

Recipient of the Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Service

Thomas Frederick, Ph.D Faculty, Bachelor’s programs

Herbert L. and Dr. Beth I. Alswanger Gopman Research Fund

USeeded by a generous donation from Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman (Ph.D., 2009), this fund supports the research, scholarly activity, and research-based teaching projects of UI&U faculty and administrators. In providing for further professional development of faculty and staff, the Gopman Research Fund encourages excellence in teaching and supports the university’s continued vision to provide students with engaging, enlightening, and empowering education. Lifelong philanthropists, the Gopmans are deeply involved in their local community and staunch supporters of higher education at every level. While at Union, Dr. Gopman explored the needs of children with mental and physical disabilities, and developed a pilot study focused on the positive and natural socialization of siblings of special needs children within school settings.


2011 – Joseph Nolan, Ph.D Faculty, Doctor of Education program

2013 – Woden S. Teachout, Ph.D Faculty, Master of Arts program

2015 – Thomas Frederick, Ph.D Faculty, Bachelor’s programs; Frank Scala, M.Ed., Faculty, Bachelor’s programs and Chair, Education major; Robert Cotter, M.Ed., Director of Information Technology and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

2016 – Christopher J. Voparil, Ph.D Faculty, Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program

Pictures of the 2016 National Commencement: Share your #UIUgrad photos with us!

Changing the way kids eat

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Eric Paul Meredith rethought the possibilities of getting kids to eat healthy. He decided to reach children in their own play yard and launched a series of books that use visual narratives to provide health education named “Health Heroes Comics.”

The young superheroes show children that good nutrition is fun. “The superheroes break down what can be complex health information in a way that is easy to understand, entertaining and engaging,” said Meredith.

He launched the first pilot of the health-themed comic book creation curriculum at Passages Charter School in Chicago called Superheroes in the Classroom in September 2015. In this after school program, youth learn how to find credible health information and use it to plan, create and publish health related comics.

His newest project is the launch of Healthheroes.net, a social networking site dedicated to providing youth a safe environment to create content, learn and share knowledge about health topics.

“The site allows young people, parents, and other adults to post what they are doing to be healthy,” said Meredith. “They can write a blog, exchange recipes, post videos of working out, and more.”

Meredith credits his Graduate Certificate in Health Education from Union in also propelling his work forward with the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.
“When I am not being a superhero for health, I oversee nutrition education programs for six states for the USDA. My certificate taught me how to plan, implement and evaluate nutrition education programs more effectively. It also showed me how to design a program and train other nutrition education professionals,” said Meredith.

The Graduate Certificate in Health Education is an excellent choice for students from different educational and professional backgrounds and levels of expertise (community and k-12 educators, non-profit leaders, social workers, and others), who are looking to expand on their existing experience and/or passion in the field of health education. The program also incorporates the coursework needed for the CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist) exam.

“Eric is a perfect example of an experienced and qualified professional working in the field of health education who used the coursework, Multicultural Competency, Grant Writing, and Planning & Implementation of Health Education programming to further his career goals,” said Brooke Bolton, Associate Director, Professional Studies & Continuing Education/M.S.O.L.

To learn how the Union Graduate Certificate in Health Education can energize your health education career, visit this link. To keep up with Eric and his work, visit Eric’s page on LinkedIn and Healthheroes.net.

About Eric Paul Meredith

Meredith is a U.S. Navy veteran, classically trained chef, Registered Dietitian, and Certified Health Education and Youth Exercise Specialist. Over the last seven years, he has worked with thousands of young people and become an expert in childhood health education and promotion. By focusing on youth, he hopes to change behaviors early and empower children to develop healthy life-long habits. In addition to his Graduate Certificate in Health Education from Union Institute & University, he holds a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Embracing Diversity Through Art

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Q. Why do you think it is important to highlight Hispanic Heritage Month?

 A. It is important to celebrate in order to keep our culture and traditions. This celebration, however, is not for one day or a designated month only, but rather every day of the year. For Latinos/Hispanics Columbus Day is not our main celebration (the discovery of America) as native people were here in the Americas before Columbus’ arrival. We celebrate La Raza (the Race) to honor our ancestors.

Q. The 2016 show is La Raza: Embracing Diversity, a fine art exhibit showcasing the work of graduate students sharing their views, experiences and contribution to the Latino culture. Why did you choose this title?

A. La Raza is a culture of many ethnic groups within the Latino/Hispanic community. As a group with no specific race, we embrace all kinds of people regardless of our color.

Q. What is the purpose of the art show?

 A. The purpose of the art show is to bring together the different cultures within the Latino/Hispanic community. Even though we speak the same language, each experience is different. The show gives voices to students through a different platform such as the visual arts. Images resonate on people often more than verbal messages. There are also messages implied or suggested through the images, whether political, racial, or migration related.

Q. What else do you hope the exhibit teaches?

A. The show brings together people from all walks of life, via the artists and the community and serves as a forum to engage the college community as well as visitors. Since each of the participating artists are from different cultural backgrounds (Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia), viewers can learn about those differences and similarities and get broader perception of the Latino culture.

Q. How did the idea for an annual art exhibit materialize?

A. As mentor at an institution where Latinos are a minority, I introduced this annual event in 2011. However, the idea for this show came from current political and racial and divisionism taking place in our country. Therefore, I thought about a show that could integrate these topics and how each of the artists would interpret them to address their position or views on the matter.

Raul Manzano

Dr. Manzano earned his Ph.D. with a major in Humanities & Culture from Union Institute & University in 2015. His dissertation is titled, Language, Community, and Translations: An Analysis of Current Multilingual Exhibition Practices among Art Museums in New York City. He holds a Master of Arts from SUNY / Empire State College, New York, NY, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts, New York, NY. Dr. Manzano is busy preparing for the introduction of Caribbean Heritage Month celebration in June 2017 in collaboration with his colleague Dr. Rosalind October-Edun. For additional information visit www.raul-manzano.com