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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The show must go on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Connected during these challenging times by sharing information, helpful tips, and encouragement to your fellow Union students and alumni.

Send your updates, ideas, comments, and questions to: alumni@myunion.edu or to carolyn.krause@myunion.edu
Share connect with us on SHARE YOUR STORY

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!

National Distance Learning Week Spotlight

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In honor of National Distance Learning Week, Dr. Rick Chaffee, a faculty member at Union, provides insight on the topic of on-line teaching & learning.

It would seem that on-line teaching could be as effective as classroom based teaching in courses that deal with objective material. That assumption makes sense. However, in human relations based courses, the assumption seems to be that face-to-face is more effective.

I would like to share my surprise at the effectiveness of on-line teaching especially in courses related to interpersonal relationships such as leadership, negotiation & conflict resolution, leadership ethics and diversity.

I teach in the undergraduate programs of Organizational Leadership and Business Management with Union Institute and University. Prior to teaching on-line with the University, I taught face-to-face on corporate and military sites over a thirty year period.

When the University changed my teaching assignments from classroom to on-line instruction four years ago, I was skeptical. However, over the last four years I have discovered an intimacy to on-line teaching that I could not have anticipated.

When the University changed my teaching assignments from classroom to on-line instruction four years ago, I was skeptical. However, over the last four years I have discovered an intimacy to on-line teaching that I could not have anticipated.

When the Kolb model of adult learning is used in courses whether on-line or face-to-face, there is connectedness and community.

The richness of the Kolb model arises from bringing together, an academic field of knowledge on the one hand, and the rich personal and professional experiences of adults, on the other. As students and faculty share with each other their own experience related to the ideas from the readings and lectures, not only is it possible to connect in a profound way with each student but the students connect with and learn from each other. Assignments typically include a short summary of key concepts followed by examples that connect the concepts to their own life. Adults may never have known these terms or theories before, but they discover they already know them experientially. This approach generates confidence and a sharing of insights with one another. What adult learners value most is that they can use these insights the very next day at home or in their workplace. In a way, this is a case study approach but the cases come directly from their own lives.

The second factor that contributes to effective on-line teaching in social science related courses is a recognition that growth in relational effectiveness is an intrapersonal, soul searching process (Bennis, Kouzes, Posner, Chaleff, Ciulla, Covey, Burns, etc.). For example, in a leadership ethics course, we study the corrupting influence of power. Power is like a drug. In our role as a parent, spouse or as a leader in an organization, it is easy to be seduced by our power. Participants are asked, which of the three corrupting influences of power must they be careful of in their own life? Leadership begins with self-understanding which can done remarkably well on-line.

At the core of human relations is an internal process. Conflict resolution begins with emotional intelligence, recognizing the fight and flight responses inside, not acting on the urge to get even, and doing our best to find a resolution based in fairness. There is something inside us that knows when we are acting with integrity. This kind of internal process followed by the sharing of insights, works especially well on-line.

Negotiation is another crucial human relations skill. As participants reflect on their past negotiation experiences, they recognize that good outcomes, the quality of their relationships, and their sense of peace inside, depend on an internal commitment to fairness as a way of life. Again, this reflection and sharing can be done as effectively on-line as face-to-face.

Most adults recognize that it is connecting or reconnecting with their integrity that is at the heart of any course related to effectiveness in human relations… work that can be done beautifully in an on-line format.

These intimate on-line courses create an opportunity for students to test the possibility that openness and a commitment to fairness bring about better outcomes and better relationships. They test this proposition in their own lives and report the results of their experiments to each other during the course.

To my surprise, I have come to love teaching on-line and have received feedback from a number of students that these human relations courses have been the most meaningful they have had in their college careers regardless of format.

My experiences over the last four years has convinced me that human relations courses, taught on-line, can be very effective, as effective as those I have taught face-to-face. In addition, the corporations that send me their students that include United Technology (UTAS), Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever), and the Vermont Army National Guard, consider an on-line degree equal to campus based degrees.

Union is distinguished as the pioneer in adult education, perfecting on-line and traditional classroom instruction for the busy adult.

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Debunking Myths About Online Instruction

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They said that Aristotle was wrong when he challenged the common theory of education during his day. His technique of raising questions to require thought /discourse changed the passive listening pedagogy of his age.

They criticized Maria Montessori when she devised an early childhood curriculum based on developmental stages and hands-on instruction. She debunked her critics, and her method is still revolutionary over a hundred years later.

John Dewey debunked his critics who said that the Project Method wasted valuable teacher directed time where knowledge was poured (sometimes beaten) into children’s heads. Horace Mann was criticized when he proposed a free education for every child in America. Today, there is even discussion of free community college education.

There is similar discussion today questioning the viability of online instruction. A colleague recently stated to me that the argument for the effectiveness of online instruction is still up in the air. I argued back that the old fashioned brick and mortar institution might be the pedagogy that is more in danger
hroughout the years, pencils have replaced the stylus; the interactive whiteboard has replaced the chalkboard; word processing programs have replaced lined paper. Families no longer sit around their radio at night to listen to the latest serial. Telephones now follow you, and television is available at your fingertips. More movies are watched at home than in the theater.
Can anyone argue that television, video, and YouTube have not offered greater access to knowledge?  I recently visited the famous Stony Brook, Long Island Post Office with its famous eagle venire. The wings of that eagle flutter at the top of each hour. Rather than wait fifteen minutes until the next hour, I YouTubed it, watched the wings flutter, then moved to my next touristy destination. Does the internet not provide better and more timely learning experiences? Does it not provide access to real time information from far away?

Let’s debunk a few of the myths about online instruction that are commonly proffered by critics:

Students Need the Structure of the Face-to-Face Class-Some students definitely do. Yet, have you ever watched the bored faces of students attempting to listen and follow a lecture from an average professor. Have you ever watched the faces of morning people trying to learn at night or, even better, night people trying to wake up to learn in the morning? Online instruction creates the possibility of importing the lectures of the top professors in the world. It provides the opportunity for professionally prepared videos facilitated by trained professors. Asynchronous online lessons can be viewed during the hours most effective and most convenient to the learner.

Professors Are Not as Available to the Online Student-I am not sure that a study exists, but I would hypothesize that more personal email addresses and personal cell phone numbers are offered by online instructors than brick and mortar ones. I would further hypothesize that contact hours are less restrictive for online instructors than traditional professors. Office hours of 2:00-4:00 on Tuesday and Thursday should be a thing of the past. Direct access between professors and students via email, text, and cellphone should be the new norm.

Online Instruction is Impersonal-In the early days, this might have been a valid argument. Early classes were merely correspondence courses with products delivered through technology with a smidgeon of online quizzes. Time has changed that. Modern, quality online courses now contain regular personal video from the professor, other video from some of the best speaker experts throughout the world, collaboration forums where students are required to discuss issues moderated by professors, and chat rooms to share individual presentations. Arguments can be made that online instruction is more personal than traditional face-to-face instruction. An online student cannot hide behind a notebook. Each post and every reply can be counted and credited.

Student Service Programs Are Better in Face-to-Face Classes-I can’t argue about other schools, but I have heard the nightmares. At Union Institute & University, each student has email, phone, and personal access to an enrollment counselor and a program advisor, in addition to their personal professor. No advisor has a student load higher than one hundred students. In addition, there are career and financial aid counselors. Waiting in lines for registration or assistance is non-existent. It, like the courses, is also online.
Change is a very difficult thing. Yet, without change, growth cannot occur. The lead character in Herman Hesse’s novel Demien once said, “In order to grow, you must first destroy a world.” I am not proposing that the world of the brick and mortar higher education institution needs to be destroyed. Yet I proffer that technology exists; we should not be afraid to use it.

Watch this video. I doubt that you could do a better job at communicating from behind your classroom podium.

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Union Institute & University Celebrates Veterans Day by providing lunch to homeless veterans on November 11

By | Faculty & Staff, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Veterans are the heart of the Union Institute & University Veterans in Union program. This Veterans Day, November 11, Union will celebrate veterans by providing lunch at The Joseph House for Homeless Veterans, and bringing cookies to 15 veteran partnership organizations during the week.

“Veterans Day provides another opportunity for Union to recognize and honor the sacrifices of veterans,” said Nicole Schreck, Senior Director of Enrollment. “It is our honor to bring lunch to the staff and veterans of Joseph House. The programs offered through Joseph House, are extremely valuable to the veterans within our community. These programs empower and transform the lives of those veterans who may have found themselves lost in their transition from the military to civilian role.”

The Veterans in Union stipend program provides a three-term $7500 living allowance stipend for eligible Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana veterans to earn or complete their undergraduate or graduate degree.

The Veterans in Union program holds the designation of a Yellow Ribbon university, is in the Top 25 percent ranking of Military Friendly Institutions, and accepts previous credits and experience including ACE Credits, Dantes, CLEP, and more. In addition, Union is listed on the U.S. Department of Education’ Eight Keys to Veterans’ Success site; and is part of a very critical two-year independently funded agreement with the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs office for on-site VITAL counseling services.

Nicole Schreck and Geri Maples deliver cookies to the Tri-State Veterans Community Alliance in recognition of Veterans Day.

Learn More about the Veterans Union program

To learn more about the Veterans in Union program, visit  http://military.myunion.edu