Union Institute & University Celebrates Founders’ Day April 2, 2021


Each year, the university devotes a day in the spring to recognize the unique and historic vision of its founders in creating the blueprint for our journey forward.

Union Institute & University was founded during the tumultuous 1960s, a time of change and transformation throughout all facets of our society.

Looking back, 1964 was a pivotal year. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law; Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in South Africa; Congress authorized war against North Vietnam leading to the student protest movement and James Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi as the first African American to attend a segregated school.

Dr. Samuel Baskin (on right) & Dr. Goodwin Watson

It was during this time of change that ten university presidents gathered to change the face of higher education. Together, they established a consortium of colleges and universities they called the Union for Research and Experimentation in Higher Education (UREHE), a forward-facing institution that evolved over the years to become Union Institute & University. Those ten founders and so many others in the early days of Union’s beginnings, including Union’s first president, Dr. Samuel Baskin, along with Dr. Goodwin Watson and Dr. Roy Fairfield, pioneered many of the concepts now common in higher education including:

  • Credit for prior experience and knowledge, and learner-centered education, especially for adults;
  • Distance education, foreseeing the idea of online education before the technology existed to support the approach;
  • Accelerated completion and other innovative and flexible educational models that challenged traditional education and pedagogy;
  • The belief that education is about achieving aspirations and goals, celebrating the very best of the human spirit, expanding knowledge, leading to the transformation of lives and communities.

Throughout the decades, Union Institute & University has continued to renew itself and create opportunities for adult learners. Today, we reflect upon the unique foundation created by our visionary founders and the significant impact Union has made in the lives of more than 20,000 alumni and the communities they touch. Now celebrating 57 years of innovation, Union students, faculty, staff, and alumni are building upon our founders’ conviction that higher education betters the individual and the world through a celebration of differences and active participation and leadership in all sectors of society.

In 2021, Union Institute & University is:

  • embarking on a new strategic plan;
  • creating structure, programs, and pathways for the Institute for Social Justice;
  • redesigning our website and creating new ways to showcase Union’s expertise through podcasts and webinars;
  • developing new avenues to teach, learn, and contribute to the greater good;
  • launching a new Doctorate of Education and a number of certificates; and
  • seeking corporate and international alliances and partnerships.

Throughout its history, Union has been an acknowledged leader in American higher education, providing progressive alternatives, innovative solutions and influential graduates. Together, we remain steadfast in our commitment to create a more perfect Union that will be a leader in providing pathways to a more just society.

I am happy to share some recent accolades and achievements below.

Thank you for joining the Board of Trustees and me as we recognize the inspiration of our founders and continue to change the face of higher education in the 21st century!

Warmest regards, and thank you for your support of Union!

Karen Schuster Webb, Ph.D.

Learners at Early Colloquiums







Union’s Rankings

#1 Child Development Degree for 2020 (Child & Adolescent Development major)
Online Schools Report

# 3 “Best Colleges for Veterans in Ohio”
College Factual

#7 Top Ten Forensic Psychology Bachelor’s Degrees for 2020
Criminal Justice Degree Hub

#30 Top Online Child Development Degree Programs in U.S.

#47 Best Colleges in Ohio

#58 Top Online Doctorate in Education Degree Programs in U.S.

#61 (top 5%) Best Colleges for Veterans
College Factual

#171 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
U.S. News & World Report

Gold Designation for Best Military Friendly Schools 2020-2021

“Best for Transfer Students” for Online Doctorate in Education Programs

Most Affordable Online Special Education & Teaching Programs for 2020
Affordable Schools

Phi Theta Kappa 2020 Transfer Honor Roll

Webinars, Podcasts, NEXUS newsletter: Sharing the Union Story

Union’s new Channel U podcasts

Union’s new Webinar Program

Alumni, Student, Staff, and Faculty Achievement

  • 29 alumni have served as president of more than 35 colleges and universities.
  • 39 Chiefs of Police/Sheriffs and more than 6,000 law enforcement officers nationwide hold a Union Criminal Justice Management or Emergency Services Management degree, including the chiefs of police in Dallas and Oakland.
  • Don Mee Choi, Ph.D. 2006, was awarded the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry.
  • Ph.D. student Diane McDaniel was named one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the nation by the National Diversity Council.

Read more about these and other alumni, students, faculty, and staff making a difference.

Union has received $975,000 in grants from government agencies, corporations, and private foundations, funding scholarships and programs across the university.

Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation
Enrollment in the Ph.D. program, the Master of Arts program, and first-responders degree programs have exceeded goals, and we continue to record overall retention rates of 75 percent and a strong graduation rate of 76 percent.

Responding to a survey, students reported strong satisfaction with the level of quality of online instruction, technical assistance, response time, and frequency of faculty interaction.

Strategic Planning 2020-2023
More than 10,000 individuals participated in discussions, interviews, and surveys, leading to four broad themes that have emerged as strategic pillars to guide our efforts:

  • Visibility: Impactful and clear communication of Union’s brand, mission, and values at all touchpoints.
  • Growth: Expand Union’s community of diverse stakeholders and attract more students looking for a flexible, relevant, and affordable digital learning experience.
  • Delivery: Purposefully adjust and invest in our service model to provide a seamless and exceptional learning environment
  • Value: Provide an affordable digital learning environment that is fueled by innovation and committed to diversity and social justice

Institute for Social Justice
Strategic planning and implementation are underway for Union’s Institute for Social Justice to develop. In the next year, the Institute will give voice to, and actualize, 21st-century collaborative thought leadership with a variety of programs. These offerings will be led by individuals who, like our founders, are committed to providing innovative and pragmatic solutions on a global level through programs that reduce racism, increase civic engagement, promote economic and social equity, and eliminate social disparity.

Union is a global leader in providing higher education degrees for the adult learner. Your Goals. Your Success. Your Union. We’ve Got U!
Learn more.