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Union’s commencement is a family affair

By | Alumni, Master's Degree, Students | No Comments

Sisters Joyce Davis and Francine Murphy graduate together at Union's Florida commencement

Joyce Lindell Davis fulfilled her mother’s dying wish when she earned her Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership degree on May 15, 2016. “My mother valued education. It was her dying wish for me to continue my education. I fulfilled that dream when I received that diploma,” said Davis.

“My son, cousin and niece graduated from Union. I had first-hand recommendations to attend Union from people I love and trust,” said Davis. “I would recommend Union to anyone looking for a university to start or complete their undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degree.”

Davis found that Union understood her family and career responsibilities. “I work full-time. I couldn’t quit my job to complete my graduate degree,” said Davis. She chose the Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership program to propel her career forward. “My goal is to enter the human resources field. That profession requires leadership skills, business knowledge, ethics, the ability to grasp organizational structure, and in-depth management techniques,” said Davis. “I truly believe my degree from Union has prepared me to advance my career.”  

The Union Institute & University Florida Commencement ceremony was held on May 15, 2016 at the Hilton Miami Airport. The keynote speaker for this year’s Florida commencement was Alumna Alison McMahan (Ph.D. 1997), an award winning author and film maker.  The ceremony included 60 graduates of a variety of academic disciplines including: Criminal Justice Management, Elementary Education, Early Childhood Studies, Secondary Education, Business Management, Masters of Arts, and Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership. 

Learn more about Union’s MSOL degree program

Meet Union’s 2016 Florida Commencement Speaker

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Dr. Alison McMahan

2016 Florida Commencement Speaker

Union Institute & University is pleased to announce that alumna Alison McMahan (Ph.D. 1997) will be the 2016 Florida Commencement speaker. Dr. McMahan is a testament to Union Institute & University’s mission to transform lives and communities. She is recognized for her commitment to lifelong learning, her abilities to use her education to shine light on forgotten but important figures and movements, and her dedication to education.

As a Ph.D. student at Union, she researched and wrote Alice Guy Blaché, Lost Visionary of the Cinema, about the first female filmmaker and a key figure in the development of narrative film. Blaché had been left out of the history books and her work had been forgotten. McMahan’s research led to retrospectives of Alice Guy’s work at the George Pompidou Museum in Paris, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and at film festivals all over the globe.

McMahan’s award-winning doctoral dissertation at Union was also the recipient of the Circle of Scholars award in 1997. Published in 2002 by Bloomsbury, the book was translated into Spanish, adapted into a play, and is being produced as a documentary by Hollywood. 

An expert in early cinema topics, Dr. McMahan is often called upon to do research for and appear in projects by other filmmakers, such as the documentary The Lost Garden: The Life and Work of Alice Guy Blaché, the Emmy-award winning program Into the Light (State of the Arts series), and a documentary on early woman filmmakers, Reel Models: The Women of Early Film, which aired the American Movie Classics Channel.

McMahan is also the author of The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Hollywood, (Bloomsbury, 2005) and an award-winning novel, The Saffron Crocus, a historical mystery for young adults, published by Black Opal Books in 2014. She is a regular contributor to the magazine The Big Thrill.

Dr. McMahan’s film work includes numerous award-winning screenplays. Through her company, Homunculus Productions, LLC, she produces non-fiction films. Her film work includes: an industrial film and PSA for Pensamento Digital, an NGO in Brazil that provides computers and internet access to poor communities; the educational film, Living with Landmines for the World Rehabilitation Fund; and the documentary, Bare Hands and Wooden Limbs, narrated by Sam Waterston, which is now in general distribution. 

Dr. McMahan held a Mellon Fellowship in Visual Culture at Vassar College from 2001-2003 where she built a virtual reality environment with a biofeedback interface for CAVEs (computer automated virtual environments). From 1997 to 2001, she was an associate professor, teaching film history and theory and new media at the University of Amsterdam.  

A committed lifelong learner in the Union tradition, she graduated from the Catholic University of America with a B.F.A. in drama/playwriting, and, in addition to her doctorate from Union, holds two masters degrees, an M.F.A. from New York University in film production and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of Southern Maine. 

Union Institute & University’s Florida Commencement will be held
May 15, 2016 at the Hilton Miami Airport. Find out more below!