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social justice Archives - Community | Union Institute & University

Dr. West

Pay it 1964ward – Union graduates are problem solvers

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students | No Comments

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 go directly to the student. Throughout 2020, we will feature a number of Union donors – alumni, trustees, friends, and others – who support Union and our goals to transform lives and communities. Please join them through Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD today.

Below Dr. Charles A. West, Ph.D. 2000, reflects on Union’s unique mission to graduate problem solvers, a skill sorely needed in today’s world. Read more about Dr. West and his career as a catalyst for economic development optimization and his decision to invest in Union students below.

Dr. WestQ. You are paying your degree forward by investing in Union and its students. Why do you choose to invest in Union’s students?
A. My career soared during and after obtaining my Ph.D. from Union. That is one of the reasons I am paying my degree forward. Other reasons include the Union model that offered flexibility so that a working adult with four children could obtain a Ph.D. Not only did my degree enhance my skills but I found myself in a setting that nurtured my skills. I was able to gain experiences I might not have gained elsewhere.

I can’t say enough about the faculty encouraging me to reach heights I didn’t know were possible. I also became close to my classmates and learned so much from them.

Q. What did your degree and your Union experience do for your career?
A. I doubled my consulting fee the day I completed my degree. I am in a very competitive business, the consulting business, and there is no doubt in my mind that having Ph.D. behind my name says to clients I am more qualified. Having the Union stamp and experience put me miles ahead of the competition.

Q. Union is known for its commitment to social justice. Does that aspect of the university influence your decision to invest in Union and its students? If so, how?
A. I saw social justice firsthand at Union. For the most part, absent were gender and racial bias. What impressed me most about Union was the chance to be listened to and to express my opinions freely. I had the chance to hear other viewpoints and I was strengthened because of those viewpoints. I have traveled and worked all over the world and the broad-based education I received from Union prepared me to be successful.

Q. Union’s goal is to transform lives and communities. Can you share how this goal may have impacted you and your career?
A. I work in economic and community development in many of the areas that have been devastated by economic and climatic destruction. My training at Union improved my ability to help these communities. I worked for seven years to help rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina with the Kauffman Foundation and auto suppliers in Detroit after the Great Recession. Today I am working with the DeBruce Foundation expanding pathways to economic growth and opportunity.

Q. What else would you tell prospective donors about why they should give to Union?
A. I would tell prospective donors that investing in Union is an investment in their future by supporting an Institution focused on problem solving . Union develops individuals that are problem solvers. They are committed to improving the quality of life for all. Union graduates bring insight and understanding and a commitment to unorthodox ways so needed in today’s world.

Support the next generation of leaders with your donation.
Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD today. Click here to donate.

About Dr. West.

Dr. Charles A. West believes that a more innovative integration of economic development, workforce development and entrepreneurship could profoundly impact individuals and communities across this country. He is ecstatic to be a part of The DeBruce Foundation team that is committed to tackling the same issues that are dear to him.

Dr. West is a catalyst for economic development optimization because of his multifaceted experiences. From the halls of academe, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in accounting; an M.B.A. in finance; and Ph.D. in entrepreneurship. He honed his experiential base in the laboratories of the streets where he managed economic development and workforce development programs. After leaving, Dr. West served as an economic development consultant to federal and state agencies as well as nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Dr. West exposed young minds to entrepreneurship and was challenged to demonstrate the efficacy of his teachings while a college professor. Partially as a result, he spent several years heading a management group that bought, grew and sold franchises. Afterward, Dr. West began the journey of integrating his knowledge and experiences into the most successful training program for entrepreneurs in the country. The program served several thousand individuals and had a sizeable economic impact. Dr. West has authored or co-authored books in each chapter of his life to provide learning experiences for others. These books include 7 Secrets of the Gig Gurus: A Toolkit for the Freelance Gig Economy, LESSONS. (A contemporary African-American novel), How To Understand and Secure a Surety Construction Bond, Tonight You Can Be in Business for Yourself, and Black Enterprise, Inc.: Case Studies of a New Experiment.

Dr. Shekhar Mitra

Pay it 1964WARD: Why I give back: Shekhar and Anu Mitra Honoring my parents’ spirit by supporting the next generation of leaders

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students | No Comments

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 go directly to the student. Throughout 2020, we will feature a number of Union donors – alumni, trustees, friends, and others – who support Union and our goals to transform lives and communities. Please join them through Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD today.

Read how Dr. Shekhar Mitra and Union professor Dr. Anu Mitra established the M.K. and Kamala Mitra Scholarship Fund to honor the memory of his parents.

Dr. Shekhar MitraQ: We are launching the Pay it 1964Ward campaign to raise $1,964,000 to support our students achieve their dreams. You have been a longtime giver. Can you tell us why you give to Union? Why do you choose to invest in Union’s students?

A: Union fills a unique need for motivated adults who not only want to advance their careers but also are deeply passionate about serving their global communities. Both Union faculty and students are focused on understanding the world from an interdisciplinary standpoint; to explore new ways in which to engage the inquiry and experiential processes. Union represents a distinctive learning model where future generations of leaders practice open inquiry, inclusion, and dialogue to make an impact in the real world. We strongly believe in investing in Union and its students.

Q: Tell us about your parents and what inspired you to link the scholarship fund at Union to their memory.

Both my parents were an inspiration to Anu and I. They met as refugees from the partition of Bengal in India in the late 1940s as the British ended its colonial rule in India. My parents escaped the ravages of the riots as they fled from their home in Dacca to Calcutta. They had no permanent home for years and were sheltered by distant cousins who supported their livelihood and education. This allowed my father, M.K., to fulfill his career dream. He became one of the Indian government’s top economist and revenue officer.

However, my parents never forgot their roots and chose to support numerous refugee families and young adults to get their education in high schools and colleges. Anu and I wanted to honor their spirit by inspiring the entrepreneurial instincts of our Union students.

Q: Union is known for its commitment to social justice. Does that aspect of the university influence your decision to invest in Union and its students? If so, how?

I knew Union was the right university to establish the fund. Union’s commitment to social justice parallels our background and upbringing. We believe that the values of social justice, pluralism, and inclusion are important ground rules in our democratic society. We want to promote these ideas in our support of organizations and institutions. As an innovation leader of a major multinational for many decades, I have seen how diverse perspectives, multicultural teams, and globally diverse consumer inputs are able to shape breakthrough designs and drive the development of innovative products and services to meet customers’ needs. Anu believes that social justice principles are a central vision of human-centered learning. This, coupled with one’s desire to manifest into action what one knows, is the basis of a good life.

Q: Union’s goal is to transform lives and communities. You recently had an opportunity to meet a few students who have been awarded scholarships. Can you share your response to them after listening to their stories?

A: I was so impressed with the scholarship recipients. What is extraordinary is how they interweave their life’s experiences with the construction of hypotheses in their scholarly work. They lead as they learn, focusing on the practical ramifications of their scholarly work to touch and improve lives in the real world.

I would urge all stakeholders to consider their own way of supporting our deserving students and the unique place of learning at UI&U. Union students deserve our support.

Support the next generation of leaders with your donation.
Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD today. Click here to donate.

About Anu and Shekhar Mitra

Anu Mitra, Ph.D. is a professor in Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program. She holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in English Literature and Women’s Studies. Dr. Mitra is drawn to interdisciplinarity and the idea that all problems are capable of being solved, but only if we are able to view multiple solutions through different lenses. She is the recent recipient of UI&U’s Herbert L. and Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman Research Fund award and was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Award for 2020-2021. She has served as a docent at several museums and as a trustee on several arts-related boards, including the YWCA, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and Cincinnati Ballet.

Shekhar Mitra, Ph.D. is passionate about enabling younger generations of scientists and engineers across all cultures, companies, and businesses to achieve their full potential as professionals. The life scientist spent 29 years at Procter & Gamble, retiring as senior vice president, Global Innovation. He holds more than 50 patents, and now, post-retirement, serves as a member of the UI&U Board of Trustees, works as a board member and strategic adviser to several Fortune 500 companies, new ventures, and a private equity company. In 2010, he was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor and is listed in the U.S. Congressional Record for his contributions to improving lives through his impact on consumer meaningful innovations and community service. You may read more about his illustrious career here.