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Union Institute & University Offers Another Chance for a Degree

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

Founded in 1964, the Union Institute & University, a non-profit, regionally-accredited university, has specialized in working with adults nationwide to bring them a quality education. Union offers these adults, particularly the non-traditional students who have perhaps left another university without completing a degree and are already working or embarked upon a career, an opportunity to obtain a degree in a hybrid model, a blend of online and traditional classroom settings.

“We provide new ways for individuals being able to reach their goals,” says Shanda Gore, EdD, Union vice president for Institution Innovation and Economic Development. Those goals, says Gore, include obtaining degrees, transferring credits and reaching the next step in a student’s academic or career path.

“We transfer up to 90 credits and the experience of working counts,” says Gore. Many individuals can come in and get degrees.”

Shanda Gore, EdD

Captain Aaron Hague, center, with his father, Sr. Pvt Tony Hague, left, and Chief Brian Byrd

The first part of Gore’s title – Institutional Innovation – reflects those new ways to allow individuals to reach their goals. The second part – Economic Development – is reflected in Union’s push to reach out to more students and more non-traditional students. Union, says Gore, is bringing more adult students online, serving larger numbers of minority students and offering more special programs – more post-secondary education programs and more real-world classes.

For adult students, those who have perhaps not completed degrees and are in the workforce, Union presents an opportunity to return to school, on their own time, to have past credits accepted and even have work experience recognized as credit worthy – and earn a degree quickly.

“We run every eight weeks,” says Gore. “We can bring in a student and have them complete their degree in eight to 10 months … even our PhD program can be completed in, typically four to five years, but possibly three.”

Several years ago Union, under the guidance of Katherine Schuster Webb, PhD, president of the UI&U, redefined its mission to emphasize a commitment to social justice. That led to the creation of The Institute for Social Justice. The Institute is comprised of a number of leaders working to promote social justice through programs and policies now and into the future.

The Institute focuses on: researching and proposing public policies and programs that reduce economic disparities and accelerate steps to reducing racism; promoting international policies and programs that increase civic engagement; fostering policies that promote economic and social equity; transforming social disparities through dedicated centers of excellence such as education, economic policies and programs, housing, health care and criminal justice.

Gore, a Bay Village, OH native, earned her bachelors of Communications, masters of Communications and doctorate of Education in Leadership Studies from Bowling Green State University and spent more than a decade and a half at the University of Toledo, the last 10 years as associate vice president of Equity and Diversity handling a wide variety of tasks.

Gore has also been a trainer, a marketing coordinator and specialist for a variety of firms. She is the president and founder of Mays and Associates, LTD, a strategic planning and consulting company serving clients all over the U.S. She has served as president of the Ohio Diversity Officers Collaborative, the State of Ohio Coordinator of the American Association of Access, Equity and Diversity and as State co-chairman and executive board member of the American Council of Education (ACE) Women’s Ohio Network.

The ability to focus on Union’s priorities – social justice, economic development and educational access – prompted Gore to make the change following her highly successful stint at UT.

And she immediately set about bringing others into the fold – others such as Aaron Hague, a captain with Toledo Fire and Rescue Department. Hague, an 11-year veteran who earned his associate’s degree as a paramedic from UT, was approached by Gore and her colleague Nelson Soto, PhD, to consider enrolling at Union to earn a bachelors and, perhaps, an advanced degree.

Hague was having none of it when first approached. “I didn’t want to be in school when I had to be in school,” he told Gore of his not-too-fond memories of high school and college. “It’s not me, I’m not an academic – I’m doing what I want to do,” he told her.

Gore persisted, as did her colleague. She told Hague how he could earn a degree in a brief period given the credits from UT that could be easily transferred and his work experience that would translate into credits.

Using the Union online method as enticement wasn’t successful when Gore approached Hague either – at least initially. “I’m not good without structure,” he replied.

Gore and Soto were unfazed by his initial reluctance and their persistence made a difference to Hague.

“The light bulb finally went on,” he recalls. “These people believe in me – that must mean something.” Hague started his course of studies in January and is on track to complete his degree – a bachelor’s in Emergency Management – in December.

Hague has accomplished this, as he explained, with the extraordinary help and encouragement of the Union faculty – teachers and instructors who have displayed the full measure of their commitment to their students. This help and encouragement has made all the difference to him, he said, given his rather full life – full-time job, part-time job, married with three kids.

Hague’s success at Union is just a microcosm of the success Gore speaks of for the institution. Twenty six presidents of higher learning institutions have earned degrees at Union, says Gore. “And we are making a next generation of leadership in religion with the reverends and pastors” who have attended Union, she says.

According to its literature, and Hague confirms this, the university is guided by its core mission to educate 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.”



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/15/20 12:23:09 -0400.

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