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
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
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
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
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.”