President Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D., today announced he is retiring as president of Union Institute & University, effective June 30, 2018. He informed Mr. Roger Allbee, chair of the Board of Trustees and the 16-member Board of Trustees at the August 2016 meeting of the Board of Trustees of his intention to retire in order to give the university ample time to appoint a successor.
Dr. Sublett, appointed in April 2003 as Union’s fifth president, will have served in that capacity for 15 years, and also served as the university’s interim president, COO, and vice president for National Undergraduate Programs, beginning in 2001.
“It has been my distinct honor to have served Union Institute & University at a critical time in its 53-year history,” Dr. Sublett said. “Union is a remarkable institution, unique in American higher education. It has led the way in providing alternatives for adults, but has never lost its focus on those who wish to transform lives and communities,” he continued. “Not coincidentally, my career in higher education and foundation work has spanned the same 53 years of Union’s remarkable history. I look forward to this next year to work across the university – with staff, faculty, trustees, alumni, and the communities in which we serve – to solidify Union’s place as an enduring pioneer in adult higher education.”
Board Chair, Mr. Allbee, of Townshend, Vermont, said Dr. Sublett has been an exemplary leader and the “right person in the right place at the right time. The university has been extremely fortunate to have had the leadership of Roger Sublett for almost 15 years,” Mr. Allbee said. “When selected by the board in 2003, it was a unanimous appointment. His leadership skills, his expertise and experience in higher education, and his knowledge of the national landscape of regulation and accreditation has proven invaluable throughout these past years. He will be sorely missed, but he has made an indelible impact on the university, its students, alumni, faculty, and staff.”
Union’s trustees have created a search committee and are working to identify a national search firm to assist with the transition. It is hoped that a candidate is identified by spring 2018. Trustee and vice chair, Ms. Christine van Duelmen of Toronto, Canada is spearheading the search for Dr. Sublett’s replacement. “We all agree that Roger’s tenure has been unsurpassed,” she said. “Roger has led this university through some turbulent times, always with a steady hand. He is leaving the university better than he found it. He has modeled and lived Union’s beloved mission and ensured that the staff and faculty always put the student at the center of his or her education.”
Dr. Sublett will leave the university at a time when several top strategic priorities have been addressed, including academic quality and financial stability. Sublett introduced a new level of transparency and strategic planning to Union, particularly during the early 2000s when the university experienced challenges from external regulatory agencies. Under his leadership, the university has become stronger in terms of academic quality, financial position, strategic planning, and sustainability.
Union announced on March 30, 2017, that it had received its first-ever $1 million bequest from alumna Dr. Madeline Ehrman, funds that will be used to purchase the university’s historic national headquarters building in Cincinnati.
In addition, the university recently completed a visit from its regional accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, verifying its achievements in academic quality and service to its students. Union had its last successful accreditation review in 2009 and all indications are that this year’s visit, the result of a two-year university-wide self-study, was successful; the university will receive official notification in the coming months.
Academic quality has been a hallmark of Dr. Sublett’s tenure, reaching across all programs:
• Reorganized under Dr. Sublett’s leadership, Union’s signature doctoral program now offers four majors and a specialization in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies. The low residency program is enjoying record enrollments.
• New academic programs are being added across the country, including a new Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership and numerous certificate programs, particularly those that bridge undergraduate to masters programs and masters to doctoral programs.
• During Sublett’s tenure, the university has sought and earned national accreditation for its undergraduate social work program from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and is seeking accreditation from The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP) for its Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Additionally, the bachelor’s degree in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation program is also under accreditation review from the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
• A new Master of Organizational Leadership was introduced in 2013, and a new undergraduate program in Organizational Leadership was launched this year. A Bachelor of Arts program with a major in Psychology was introduced in 2015 as a fully online program serving students across the country.
• The university has two academic centers in California (Sacramento and Los Angeles), as well as numerous sites. Its Florida academic center moved to a new location in Hollywood, Florida in December 2016, and is expanding Union’s presence across the state.
Dr. Sublett, with assistance from the Board of Trustees, was also able to raise significant funds for scholarship support, including initiating the signature Women in Union and Veterans in Union programs.
Women in Union supports undergraduate and graduate female heads of household and has been widely supported through corporate and foundation support of almost $600,000, including the Charlotte Schmidlapp Fund of the Fifth Third Foundation, the Helen Steiner Rice Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Western & Southern Financial Group, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and U.S. Bank.
Veterans in Union attracted almost $450,000 in support from an anonymous foundation. In addition, the university celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 with a variety of events featuring well known alumni including the Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, former prime minister of Jamaica, Dr. Ken Dychtwald, a leading expert on the impact of the baby-boomer generation, and five of the 24 alumni who have served as college or university presidents.
In addition, with support from Western & Southern Financial Group a doctoral fellowship was established in the name of former Cincinnati mayor and former Union trustee, Eugene P. Ruehlmann.
Past Board chair, Mr. Don Feldmann of Cincinnati said, “Roger is leaving with a bang. These are priorities that the Board and Roger identified. He and his team have accomplished these goals, and so much more.”
Dr. Sublett is Union’s second longest serving president after Dr. Robert T. Conley who died in office in 1999, having served 16 years. Prior to his service with UI&U, Dr. Sublett worked for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for 12 years, first as program director in the Higher Education and Leadership program and then as director of the highly regarded Kellogg National Fellowship/Leadership Program. Dr. Sublett also served as the executive vice president for the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) and president of the Coalition for Adult Education Organizations (CAEO). He was associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Evansville (Indiana), dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies and director of special programs in the College of Alternative Programs.
Dr. Sublett has devoted his time and expertise to numerous committees and boards, including the American Association for Higher Education; the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) Ethics Committee; the Coalition for Adult Education Organizations; and ACE, where he is past chair of the Commission on Lifelong Learning. He also served on the President’s Forum, to encourage understanding across agencies and institutions on online learning initiatives. He is a founding member of Transparency by Design, a coalition of university presidents organized to promote new standards of accountability in higher education. He serves in leadership positions on the boards of Hospice Cincinnati, OmniMed, the University of Arkansas Alumni Association, and recently stepped down from the Board of Directors of the International Leadership Association (ILA). He was a senior fellow in the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and a senior scholar at the Center for Ethical Leadership, Seattle. He is a frequent speaker, convener, and leader in areas of adult and continuing education. He has authored, co-authored, or edited four books on the operation and lessons learned through the Kellogg Foundation, including, Leading from the Heart.
Dr. Sublett was born and raised in Arkansas. He earned his B.S.E. and M.A. degrees from the University of Arkansas and his Ph.D. in American History from Tulane University in New Orleans.
He resides in Mason, Ohio with his wife, Dr. Cynthia Sublett, associate project director of the Clinical Nurse Leadership (CNL) grant administered by Xavier University’s School of Nursing. They have three grown daughters and three grandsons.
About Union Institute & University
Union Institute & University, a private, non-profit university headquartered in Cincinnati with academic centers in Los Angeles and Sacramento, California; Hollywood, Florida; and Brattleboro, Vermont, is in its 53rd year of educating highly motivated adults who seek academic programs to engage, enlighten, and empower them to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Union Institute & University offers undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degree programs designed for adults seeking to make a difference in their own lives and within their communities. Since its inception in 1964, the university has offered specialized distance-learning programs that combine online and classroom coursework with high-touch faculty attention, designed for students regardless of where they live and work. Union’s flexible delivery models, combined with its focus on social relevance, distinguish it from other universities by providing not only online classes, but also brief residencies, face-to-face small classroom settings, and a hybrid model, all emphasizing relevant and transformative coursework taught by more than 300 faculty/scholar-practitioners. Union graduates, including more than a dozen college presidents, leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, members of the United States Congress, and the first female prime minister of Jamaica promote Union’s legacy of utilizing education to engage, enlighten, and empower.