Wednesday, December 4, 2013

MLK Legacy Lecture: Dr. Stewart Burns

Way Out of No Way: How King's Teachings Might Help Us Overcome Our Quadruple Peril
January 9, 2014 | 11:45am-1:00pm
NKU Mets Center, Erlanger, Kentucky

Union Institute & University is honored to present Dr. Stewart Burns as part of the university’s Ph.D. residency in January. This MLK Legacy Lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Burns is a distinguished historian of the civil rights movement, and wrote the Wilbur-Award-winning biography of Martin Luther King Jr., To the Mountaintop (2004). A former editor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers at Stanford University, he produced the Montgomery bus boycott volume, Birth of a New Age. He published the first history of the bus boycott, Daybreak of Freedom, which was later made into the HBO feature film Boycott (on which he consulted). In 2002, Dr. Burns earned a NAACP Image Award. His new book We Will Stand Here Till We Die: Freedom Movement Shakes America, Shapes Martin Luther King Jr. (2013) covers the epic story of the American freedom struggle of 1963 from Birmingham to the March on Washington.

Burns has worked for many years in movements for peace and social justice—protesting the Vietnam War, organizing for the United Farm Workers, opposing nuclear power and nuclear weapons, fighting racism and modern slavery, and confronting poverty. His mission is to share lessons from the democratic struggles of the past to empower citizenship today and tomorrow.

Burns earned his Ph.D. in history and political philosophy at the University of California Santa Cruz and has taught at the University of California, Stanford, Antioch University, and Williams College. He currently shares leadership of the Center for Learning in Action at Williams College.

To reserve your seat
RSVP to Shay
(513) 487-1143 

Learn more about  Union Institute & University's MLK studies specialization program

NKU Mets Center
3861 Olympic Blvd. | Erlanger, Kentucky 41018

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Union Institute & University Receives Grant from Western & Southern

Grant to establish the Eugene P. Ruehlmann Public Service Fellowship Program
Virginia and Eugene Ruehlmann
Virginia and Eugene Ruehlmann
Union Institute & University, a private, accredited university serving adults, announced the receipt of a grant from Western & Southern Financial Group to pay tribute to the memory and legacy of former Cincinnati Mayor Eugene P. Ruehlmann. The grant, $250,000 over the next five years, honors the former Cincinnati mayor (1967-1971), former Union Institute & University trustee and former Western & Southern board member who passed away in June 2013.
Union Institute & University faculty and administrators, with assistance from the Ruehlmann family, have established the Eugene P. Ruehlmann Public Service Fellowship Program in recognition of Ruehlmann’s distinguished visionary leadership and public service. The fellowship program will annually support a Ruehlmann Fellow and his/her doctoral dissertation project that embodies Ruehlmann’s guiding principles of cooperation, collaboration, compromise, communication, and community-building, and promises a significant contribution and community impact.

In awarding the grant, John F. Barrett, Western & Southern’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer, noted Ruehlmann’s long years of service as a member of Western & Southern’s board of directors. “Gene was elected to our board in 1968 and provided our company with sharp insight and counsel faithfully for over 45 years. He was known for his high ethical standards, hard work and bringing people together. The Urban League honored him in 1970 for his work on poverty, housing and improving race relations with a special award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Service. In 1998 he was named a Great Living Cincinnatian by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. We are proud to lend our support to create the Eugene P. Ruehlmann Public Service Fellowship Program at Union Institute & University, another institution that he cared about deeply.”

Union Institute & University President Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D., had a long friendship with Ruehlmann, beginning when they both began to serve the university in 2001. “All of us at Union are deeply touched by Western & Southern’s generosity in Gene’s name. Gene and his wife, Virginia, were quiet but formative leaders in Cincinnati for decades. Gene’s contributions, including his work with Riverfront Stadium, and the Reds and Bengals, are legendary. His most lasting legacy, however, may be his work to build community and heal a broken city after devastating riots in the late 1960s. It is Gene’s lifetime of public service and his service leadership that we encourage all our students at Union Institute & University to emulate. We are most grateful for John Barrett’s vision in funding this Fellowship and look forward to the community service and leadership the Ruehlmann Fellows will provide in the coming years.”

Ginny Ruehlmann Wiltse, Ph.D., and Mark Ruehlmann, J.D., two of Mayor Ruehlmann’s eight children, spoke on behalf of their family, “The Eugene P. Ruehlmann Public Service Fellowship Program pays tribute to Dad’s belief in the importance of higher education, as well as his lifetime commitment to public service. He would be so pleased to see this program inaugurated at Union Institute & University and so grateful for Western & Southern’s financial support.”

About Union Institute & University
Union Institute & University is a nonprofit, accredited, private university specializing in adult and distance education since 1964. Union strives to engage, enlighten, and empower students in a lifetime of learning and service. The university’s transformational and socially relevant programs promote creative and critical thinking, and connect scholarship with real-world practice. Flexible online classes, brief residencies, classroom experiences, and hybrid models of instruction lead to undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Union graduates, including 13 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 transform lives and communities. For more information about Union Institute & University, visit or call: 888-828-8575.

About Western & Southern Financial Group
Beginning in Cincinnati in 1888 as The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western & Southern Financial Group (Western & Southern) is celebrating its 125th anniversary in business. A Fortune 500 diversified family of financial services companies, its total assets owned ($40 billion) and managed ($20 billion) are in excess of $60 billion as of June 30, 2013. Western & Southern is one of the strongest life insurance groups in the world. Its six life insurance subsidiaries (The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, Columbus Life Insurance Company, Integrity Life Insurance Company, The Lafayette Life Insurance Company and National Integrity Life Insurance Company) maintain the following financial strength ratings: A.M. Best A+ Superior, Standard & Poor’s AA Very Strong, Fitch AA Very Strong and Moody’s* Aa3 Excellent. All of Western & Southern’s life insurance companies have a Comdex Ranking* of 96. Other member companies include Eagle Realty Group, LLC; Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc.;1 IFS Financial Services, Inc.; Peppertree Partners LLC;1 Touchstone Advisors, Inc.;1 Touchstone Securities, Inc.;2 W&S Brokerage Services, Inc.;2 and W&S Financial Group Distributors, Inc. For more information on the Western & Southern family of companies, visit Western & Southern is the title sponsor of the Western & Southern Open (, a premier event in the U.S. Open Series played each August by the world’s top-ranked professional male and female tennis players.

* Lafayette Life is not rated by Moody’s and has a 97 Comdex Ranking.

1 A registered investment advisor.
2 A registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.
For current ratings, please visit

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Union Institute & University Elects Four New Trustees

CINCINNATI – Union Institute & University (UI&U), a private, non-profit university headquartered in Cincinnati announced that Katherine Prince, M.A.; Edgar L. Smith Jr.; Dr. Lee Binder; and Dr. Dennis J. Tartakow have been elected to the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees.

“Adding these four stellar individuals to Union’s Board of Trustees allows the university to partake of varied and expert knowledge across a wide spectrum,” said Union President Roger H. Sublett. “Their contributions, and those of all our trustees, will be pivotal as we celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary in 2014.”

Katherine Prince, M.A. KnowledgeWorks
Katherine Prince, M.A.

Katherine Prince, M.A. is the senior director of strategic foresight at KnowledgeWorks, a social enterprise that strives to improve U.S. student readiness for college and careers. KnowledgeWorks incubates innovative schools, influences education policy, and engages in education research and development. Prince is also an author and an expert on the future of learning. She has helped a wide range of organizations translate KnowledgeWorks’ forecasts into visions and has developed strategies to bring those ideas to fruition.

Before joining KnowledgeWorks in 2006, Prince supported large-scale changes in working practice at The Open University by introducing an online portal and an online student feedback system for 7,500 tutors distributed across the UK. Prior to that, she managed customer satisfaction improvement projects and established a technical communications group at Pacific Consulting Group in California.

Prince earned a bachelor of arts in English from Ohio Wesleyan University, a master of arts in English from the University of Iowa, and a master’s degree in business administration from The Open University.

Edgar L. Smith Jr. World Pac Paper
Edgar L. Smith, Jr.
Edgar L. Smith, Jr. is founder, chairman and CEO of Cincinnati, Ohio-based World Pac Paper, a privately held Inc. 500 and BE 100 company and award-winning national distributor of high quality printing and packaging papers and packaging solutions. World Pac Paper serves Fortune 500/1000 corporations, commercial printers, publishers, integrated and independent corrugated converters, folding carton/rigid box manufacturers, tube winders, laminators, paper converters, and the foodservice industry. In his role as chairman and CEO Smith leads and provides strategic direction, planning, and business development. In 2004 he founded World Pac Paper, which was named an Inc. 500 Top Black-Run Company in 2009.

Smith has extensive experience in sales. In his past positions, he served as vice president of national sales for Coca-Cola North America, national accounts manager for Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation, sales manager for the Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and as a senior packaging specialist for James River Corporation. Smith is a dedicated community volunteer, serving the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, ArtsWave, Cincinnati Arts Association, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He has also completed the Advanced Management / Minority Business Executive Education Programs at, both, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and the Kellogg Scholl of Management at Northwestern University.

Dr. Lee Binder, Union Institute & University
Dr. Lee Binder
Lee Binder, Ph.D. is the director of the Ben Gamla Charter School, a Broward County public school located in Hollywood, Florida. In her role, she oversees marketing, curriculum, and supervises the school’s staff and students. Before joining Ben Gamla, Dr. Binder served in a variety of positions at Greenfield Day School in Miami, Florida. She worked at Greenfield for 26 years, in roles including reading lab director, assistant principal, principal, and head of the school. Dr. Binder began her career as a fourth-grade teacher at Montgomery County Public Schools in Bethesda, Maryland and later at Libertyville Public Schools in Libertyville, Illinois.

Dr. Binder has also served as an adjunct professor for Union Institute & University, Barry University, and St. Thomas University. In addition to teaching in the classroom, she has also shared her knowledge and experience as a presenter at workshops and seminars, through community service, writing articles, and serving in professional associations.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University, a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Union Institute & University.

Dr. Dennis J. Tartakow, Union Institute & University
Dr. Dennis J. Tartakow
Dr. Dennis J. Tartakow is currently a consultant in orthodontics, TMJ disorders, orofacial pain, practice management, and healthcare administration. Dr. Tartakow is also editor-in-chief and a frequent contributor to the US edition of dental newspaper Ortho Tribune. He previously practiced orthodontics and therapy for TMJ disorders and orofacial pain in Palm Beach, Florida.

Dr. Tartakow is an associate clinical professor at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Dental Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he previously served as the director of the TMD department of post-graduate orthodontics. He is an associate clinical professor in the graduate orthodontic department at the University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry in Los Angeles. He also serves as the senior attending orthodontist and former chairman of dental research at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. At Union Institute & University’s Florida academic center he served as a primary adjunct professor in the master’s program from 2004 to 2008 and as a doctoral dissertation committee member from 2002 to 2008.

Dr. Tartakow holds two master’s degrees and three doctoral degrees. He earned a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) from Tufts University, and his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from Union Institute & University.  

Board chair Virginia R. Wiltse, Ph.D. added her congratulations to the newest members which brings the total of trustees to 16. “The Board is truly honored that these strong and effective professionals have joined our board,” she said. “Katherine brings insight into the future of education. Edgar’s commitment to Cincinnati has helped so many other organizations thrive. And, as alumni, both Lee and Dennis provide a history and also exemplify the impact Union alumni make in the world.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Faculty Jennifer L. Scott Earns Ohio Psychological Association Award of Excellence

Ohio Psychological Association (OPA) recognizes Dr. Scott for exceptional accomplishments benefiting the profession of psychology.

Dr. Jennifer Scott, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Jennifer Scott, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist and Union Institute & University Core Faculty in the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) Program in Clinical Psychology, has been selected to receive the Ohio Psychological Association’s (OPA) Award of Excellence on Friday, November 1, 2013, during the organization’s annual convention awards luncheon at Quest Conference Center, 8405 Pulsar Place, Columbus, Ohio. The award is given for exceptional accomplishments benefiting the profession of psychology or the psychological and mental health of consumers or citizens.

This honor means a lot to Dr. Scott because it brings recognition to the university and to her colleagues.

“This award is not just about my accomplishments. I am a part of a fantastic team of dedicated and talented faculty delivering the highest quality education and training to the next generation of clinical psychologists,” said Dr. Scott. “Consistent with Union’s mission, our program fosters an awareness of social injustices and inspires action among our students. We are empowering adults to advocate for underserved and marginalized populations in their own communities and beyond.”

“In addition to teaching a diverse body of students to be ethical and competent psychologists, we are building a foundation for a lifetime commitment to the service of others,” she added.

In his nomination of Dr. Scott, Union Institute & University’s Dr. Richard Sears noted her passion for teaching and learning.

“Dr. Scott’s dedication to teaching was evident from the very beginning. Her courses are exemplary and have been recognized for their quality by our university. Her experience and training gave her a thorough knowledge of her course content, but she also works very hard to facilitate the learning process in a medium that is new to the field of psychology.”

To conclude his nomination Dr. Sears wrote, “Dr. Scott doesn’t talk a lot about what she does for others. When she sees something that needs to be done, she simply steps up to help, often behind the scenes. Dr. Scott is an inspiring mentor to me and to the new generations of psychologists with whom she works.”

In addition to teaching at Union Institute & University, Dr. Scott maintains a psychology practice, providing psychological assessment and consultation services to rural communities. She also supervises graduate students, giving them the necessary education, training, and support to develop their professional skills, and mentors early career psychologists.

Dr. Scott joined the faculty at Union Institute & University in the summer of 2009. She received her Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology and Certificate in Organizational Concepts and Management from Xavier University. She previously taught at Xavier University, Chatfield College and Brown Mackie College, where she also served as academic dean. Among other honors, Dr. Scott received Ohio Magazine’s Award of Excellence in Education in 2011 and was recognized at the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities Celebration of Teaching luncheon in 2012. She serves on several university committees, is a leader in her community, and contributes to her profession through publications and presentations.

About Ohio Psychological Association
Located in Columbus, Ohio, The Ohio Psychological Association is a membership organization of approximately 1,600 Ohio psychologists. Its mission is to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare. For more information or for a psychologist referral, visit

About Union Institute & University
Union Institute & University is a nonprofit, accredited, private university specializing in adult and distance education since 1964. Union strives to engage, enlighten, and empower students in a lifetime of learning and service. The university’s transformational and socially relevant programs promote creative and critical thinking, and connect scholarship with real-world practice. Flexible online classes, brief residencies, classroom experiences, and hybrid models of instruction lead to undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Union graduates, including 13 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 transform lives and communities.

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and the National Register of Health Service Psychologists Designation Committee recently voted to approve Union Institute & University’s Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program with cohorts in Cincinnati and Brattleboro, Vermont for designation. This national recognition is a strong statement of support for Union Institute & University's model of education and its commitment to academic quality.

Learn more about Union Institute & University's Doctor of Psychology program.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Free Psychology Webinar: DSM-5 an Overview of Changes

Psychology Doctorate-Union Institute & University

Thursday, November 21, 2013
12:15-12:45pm EST

This event is FREE and open to the public.

Please join us for a webinar presented by Union Institute & University’s graduate psychology programs. Jerry Fishman, Ph.D., associate dean and faculty in Union’s M.A. with a Concentration in Counseling Psychology will host the presentation.

Learn more about the features of the American Psychiatric Association’s Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-5 is a highly useful and preferred guide to clinical practice. Through much research and discussion among academics and clinicians, the disorders in the DSM-5 have been reordered into a revised organizational structure and enhanced specificity of criteria for assessment and diagnosis of presenting symptoms has been developed. This webinar will discuss the changes to the DSM-5 and outline a strategic approach for practice.

For webinar visual:
For webinar audio: 1-866-951-1151
Conference ID: 3425762
RSVP requested but not required:

Learn more about Union Institute & University’s M.A. with a Concentration in Counseling Psychology and Doctor of Psychology programs.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Union Alum nears goal for Thanksgiving Food Drive

In the true spirit of generosity, Ft. Lauderdale Police Officer and Union alum Edgar Cruz (B.S. Criminal Justice Management 2010) is organizing his third annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. His goal is to raise $10,000 to purchase fully-cooked meals for 200 disadvantaged Ft. Lauderdale families. Each holiday dinner will be delivered by uniformed police officers in their marked cruisers.

Edgar Cruz, Criminal Justice Management
Edgar Cruz (B.S. Criminal Justice Management 2010)
Cruz has built a network of support in his city to help the food drive run smoothly. He led the project with the Black Police Officers Organization within his police department. The group, a non-profit established in 1980, generates support for the food drive by hosting fundraising events, collecting donations, and offering sponsorships. Cruz also works with grocery store chain Publix to purchase turkey dinners that include all of the trimmings. The local housing authority and social services organizations select the families who would most benefit from the meals.
“Knocking on doors and delivering meals to families who need a helping hand this Thanksgiving season is a way to say we care,” said Cruz. “Businesses and individuals care too. This outreach would not be successful without the financial support of the community. Publix is one of our largest supporters making the purchase of the dinners affordable.”
Cruz is just $2,000 shy of his goal, but Union alumni and friends can help. Each $50 raised provides one family with a complete Thanksgiving dinner, so every dollar counts. To contribute, send a check payable to the Ft. Lauderdale Black Police Officer’s Assn. (a non-profit), with “Food Drive” in the memo, to: Ft. Lauderdale Black Police Officer’s Assn., P.O. Box 65, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33302.

Union Institute & University Launches M.S. in Organizational Leadership

Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL)

Online, 12-month, results-oriented program targets emerging leaders

Union Institute & University (UI&U), a private, non-profit university headquartered in Cincinnati is proud to announce that a new Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL), an innovative academic program targeting emerging leaders, will launch in January 2014.  

The rigorous, relevant, and results-oriented program will prepare students to build their capacity, develop leadership skills and, a productive network to assist them in their profession, and to integrate their new knowledge into action.

The highlights of the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) program are:

  • 36 credit hour, online, 12-month program
  • 12 core courses in three distinct leadership modules
  • Leadership mentors assigned to each student
  • Students create a professional portfolio
  • Each course includes two 90-minute interactive webinars with scholar-practitioners
  • Each course includes at least two 30-minute one-on-one video/teleconference coaching sessions

This program was developed by Charles F. Piazza, special assistant to President Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D. for strategic innovation and planning. Dr. Piazza is also serving as the interim dean at Union’s Sacramento Academic Center. 

“Building upon Union’s legacy, the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program provides innovative education that empowers professionals to be solution building leaders who proactively address organizational and social challenges. A central component of the program’s mission is to network forward- thinking leaders so they can collaboratively devise ways to integrate social innovation into business entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Piazza.

Dr. Roger H. Sublett, president of Union Institute & University, believes the program will impact careers. “Many alumni from our bachelor’s programs have asked for a program that will help them continue to move forward in their careers. With its in-depth curriculum and its critical focus on three forms of leadership (Innovative Leadership, Networking Leadership, and Analytical Leadership), we know this program will have broad appeal.” 

Tuition for the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership is $500 per credit hour ($18,000 total, plus fees). It requires full-time study (2 courses every 8 weeks) and new students are admitted in the winter and fall semesters. This is a rigorous program and has strict admissions requirements, including an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0, three to five years of work experience, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and an admissions interview.

The MSOL program is currently accepting applications. Prospective students can learn more by visiting or contacting one of the enrollment counselors listed below:

Lauren Wenstrup |

Sydney Stauter |

Los Angeles: 
Teri Lucas |
800-486-8328 x1714

Francis Francois |
800-294-8884 x2130

New England:
Paul Moberly |
802-254-0152 x8900

Christina Wilson |
800-486-7049 x1511

Union Institute & University is a non-profit, accredited, private university specializing in adult and distance education since 1964. Union strives to engage, enlighten, and empower students in a lifetime of learning and service. The university’s transformational and socially relevant programs promote creative and critical thinking, and connect scholarship with real-world practice. Flexible online classes, brief residencies, classroom experiences, and hybrid models of instruction lead to undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees. Union graduates, including 14 college presidents, leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, members of the United States Congress, and the first female prime minister of Jamaica, promote Union’s legacy of utilizing education to transform lives and communities.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mom and son realize a dream together: Graduating college

Kim Thornhill, Dexter Thomas, Union Institute & University
Dexter Thomas and Kimberly Thornhill

Kim Thornhill and her son Dexter Thomas graduated from college together at Union Institute & University’s national commencement ceremony held on October 12, 2013 at the Hall of Mirrors in the Hilton Netherland Plaza.
Kim, a single mother of two, never envisioned that she would earn her bachelor’s degree alongside her son. Her focus on education and family is evident. “I always told my children that education was important. I also wanted to be a role model for my children. That’s why I returned to college to get my diploma,” said Kim, who earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice Management. “I am living proof that it is never too late to graduate.”
Kim is a recipient of the university’s Women in Union scholarship, which supports single, head-of-household mothers in their efforts to earn a college degree and make a better life for themselves and their families. She plans to continue her education, attend law school, and specialize in juvenile law. 
“My mom is my role model, she is the strongest person I know. I am so proud of her. She was strict growing up, but also encouraging. She always made me believe I could do anything I wanted to,” said Dexter, who received his B.S. in Business Management. Dexter plans to become an entrepreneur and eventually own a chain of barber shops.
Union Institute & University selected Kim to deliver the invocation at the commencement ceremony. Kim and Dexter joined seventy-two other graduates at the ceremony, 31 faculty, five members of the Alumni Association, and more than 400 guests. Students and their friends and family traveled from all regions of the country to attend the event, which is one of several held around the country each year, including Florida, California, and Vermont. Union Institute & University graduates about 700 students per year.
Read more about Kim and Dexter's unique and inspiring story, from here.
Watch their news story from WCPO TV channel 9 here.

Kim Thornhill, Union Institute & University
Kim Thornhill delivers the invocation at commencement

Monday, October 7, 2013

Privacy and Implications for the Field of Counseling Psychology

Shanta Crowley, M.B.A.
and Dr. Gerald Fishman, Associate Dean,
Union Institute & University 

In June, it was impossible to read a newspaper or watch the news without hearing about the NSA/Edward Snowden controversy. While this latest challenge to privacy sounds like a repeat of the privacy scandal that surfaced just a few years ago, we can’t ignore some of the ramifications this has for practitioners in the field of Counseling Psychology. In this short piece, we explore the implications of the Snowden incident in relationship to personal privacy and the professionals in the human services field.

Privacy and the Self:
We should first examine why privacy and the compromise of it is much bigger than having a paranoid feeling that the government is gathering information about your private life. According to past and present theories, privacy serves several purposes including our need to create space for ourselves and maintain relationships with others. In his 1967 work Privacy and Freedom Alan F. Westin (as cited in McDougall, 2005) expanded the definition of privacy by describing it as “…a two-tier definition… combining personal and social dimensions and consisting of four states (anonymity, reserve, solitude, and intimacy) plus four functions of privacy (personal autonomy, emotional release, self-evaluation, and limited and confidential communication).” (McDougall, 2005, para. 25)

Privacy is a concept that our society has been attempting to define long before this current social landscape. These aspects of privacy also straddle Maslow’s hierarchy of needs between the levels of safety and love/belonging. As human beings we like some level of privacy to create a sense of safety and form/maintain human relationships and trust.

Privacy, the Social Climate, and the Implications for the Field of Therapy:
When is the breach of individual privacy and confidentiality acceptable? Those who work in the field of human services regularly navigate the ethical nuances of privacy, confidentiality and legality. Some of these situations involve child abuse, clients seeking treatment for substance abuse, and a whole host of other areas. The American Counseling Association outlines the various professional ethical codes in relationship to the client, privacy, and confidentiality. The information that is shared with a counseling professional is confidential except under circumstances in which the keeping of certain information as confidential is considered to pose a danger to the client or another party. In situations in which a counselor is summoned by the court, counselors will “…obtain written, informed consent from the client or take steps to prohibit the disclosure or have it limited as narrowly as possible due to potential harm to the client or counseling relationship.” (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, Section B: Confidentiality, Privileged, Communication, and Privacy) For example, if a counselor receives a subpoena in a criminal case involving one of their clients, this may require the counselor to release all of their client notes to the court. Thus, for those working in human services, maintaining individual client privacy and adhering to professional ethics within the context of legal obligation requires ongoing reflection.

In the situation with Edward Snowden and the government’s access to personal data of each American citizen, one of the arguments is that the privacy of the individual must be compromised in exchange for the safety of the overall group. In many ways as briefly outlined above, counselors, social workers, and other similar human service employees may be challenged to make decisions between maintaining confidentiality and individual privacy or violating it for the greater good. This raises the question of defining “the greater good.” For instance, consider these scenarios:

• Employer incentive-based wellness programs. These programs are based upon the goal of a healthier workforce or lower insurance costs if employees are encouraged to make  better lifestyle choices through various rewards. However, when does the well-intentioned wellness program infringe upon the individual’s right to personal choice? For example, mandatory gym memberships enforced by the employer override the rights of the individual in exchange for the overall good of contributing to a healthier, physically fit society.

• An individual who may be under distress or suffering from depression discloses their violent fantasies to their counselor. At what point does venting or therapeutic disclosing become a real threat or danger to the client or other people?

The distinction between what is good or safe for the individual versus a group or society is not always clear. These moral dilemmas are especially present in public health, public office, psychology, criminal justice, or other related professional fields of work.

However, in this current social climate, one does not have to necessarily be in the field of counseling psychology to be affected by issues of privacy. We are all constantly grappling with what individual privacy means now versus what it meant when it was theorized in the American Bill of Rights. With the progression of technology in regards to social media—Skype, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace—the distinction between public and private has become indistinguishable in some instances. We will most likely revisit this issue given the increased use of electronic medical records. While it offers convenience and ability to provide timely treatment to the patient, what is being compromised in regards to individual privacy or HIPAA? In addition to healthcare providers, many individuals working in other capacities within human services will have to re-evaluate what it means to be of service while navigating these ethical considerations.  As the concept of privacy continues to expand and change, those of us engaged in the field of psychology will continue to contribute to this important dialogue while navigating its impact upon our work.   

Dr. Gerald Fishman, Union Institute & University
Dr. Gerald Fishman,
Union Institute & University
Dr. Gerald Fishman is the associate dean of Union’s Master of Arts with a Concentration in Counseling Psychology program. He is a NYS Licensed Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist with additional post-doctoral training in public health, chemical dependency, and specific therapy areas. Dr. Fishman has worked with clients across the developmental spectrum in mental health, chemical dependency, school, and private practice settings for over 25 years, and has taught at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Fishman has developed and directed adolescent chemical dependency and adult outpatient co-occurring disorder programs in both upstate and metropolitan New York areas, and is the co founder of the Human Services Consultation and Training Institute, offering statewide and national professional trainings in specific clinical, chemical dependency, behavioral health, school psychology, and education areas.

Shanta Crowley, Union Institute & University
Shanta L.E. Crowley

Shanta Crowley is a multi-faceted professional with experience in management, consulting, event planning, visioning, strategy, and workshop creation and implementation. She has managed social-marketing campaigns, press conferences, city-wide health initiatives, and academic mentoring programs. Shanta is passionate about the arts. Her artistic endeavors include photography, writing, dancing, and performing.  She holds an MBA and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Her favorite hobbies include traveling and collecting fairytales, stories, and mythology from various cultures. Most recently, Shanta exhibited her photography in Surrender (Brattleboro, VT), based on her five month travels throughout India. Currently, Shanta is a contributor to the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper and writes regularly on her blog.

Article References and Resources:
ACA Code of Ethics as Approved by the ACA Governing Council. (2005). Retrieved from

Bissell, L. C., M.D., C.A.C. & Royce, J. E., S.J., Ph.D. (1987). Ethics for Addiction Professionals. (2nd ed., pp. 23-36). Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Educational Materials.

Edward Snowden and the NSA Files — Story So Far. (2013, June 24). Retrieved from

Greenwald, G., MacAskill, E., & Poitras, L. (2013, June 9). Edward Snowden: The Whistleblower Behind the NSA Surveillance Revelations. Retrieved from

McDougall, Bonnie. "Privacy." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Ed. Maryanne Cline Horowitz. Vol. 5. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005. 1899-1907. Student Resources In Context. Web. 31 July 2013.  Retrieved from

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Graduation Spotlight: Linda S. Hon, Ed.D.

To celebrate Union Institute & University's National Commencement, we are highlighting a few of the recent graduates. Each participant was asked to write a response, in their own words, to the question “How has your Union experience changed your life?”

Linda S. Hon
Ed.D with a specialization in
Educational Leadership, 2013
Twinsburg, Ohio

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams -Eleanor Roosevelt

It was this thought that encouraged me to fulfill my dream of earning my doctorate in education, becoming a college professor, and teaching pre-service teachers. So, as I neared the end of my elementary school teaching career, I began to look for a doctoral program and found Union Institute and University. I am so glad I did.

From the beginning of my first July residency at Union, there was an impression of warmth and caring, along with the perception of tough challenges ahead. Both were true, and the warmth and caring of the professors and cohort members carried me through the challenging coursework.  Union exemplifies what university education should be—theoretical and practical applications, cooperative and independent learning, varied assessments, professors imparting their vast knowledge, who are available for assistance at all times, and who also have become friends and mentors, and cohort members who have been so supportive and intellectually stimulating. This experience has given me insights and direction for my future career as a college professor.

As I pursue the next part of my dream, university teaching, I am so grateful for what I have learned and experienced, and the new colleagues and friends in my life. Wayne Gretzky, a famous hockey player, said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  I took a “shot” on Union Institute and University, on my education, on my future, and I won.

Dr. Linda S. Hon received her bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio State University and her master’s in education from Kent State University. The Ohio native taught for 35 years in the Twinsburg City School District.

Dr. Hon recently achieved her dream of earning a doctoral degree. Her future plans include teaching at the college level and instructing pre-service teachers. She is married and is the proud parent of one daughter.

Learn more about Union Institute & University's Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program.

Read more National Commencement graduate stories:
Annette Aron, Ed.D.
Kenzia Carpenter, Ph.D.
Lisha Lungelow

Graduation Spotlight: Lisha Lungelow

To celebrate Union Institute & University’s recent National Commencement in Cincinnati, we are highlighting a few of the new graduates. Each participant was asked to write a response, in their own words, to the question “How has your Union experience changed your life?” 

Lisha Lungelow
Bachelor of Science in Social Work, 2013
Cincinnati, Ohio

My experience at Union Institute & University has transformed my life. Not only have I fulfilled my dream of obtaining my degree, but I have new confidence in my abilities.

The idea of returning to college as an adult in my early 50s filled me with fear. But at Union, a college that specializes in adult learning, I found peers with similar concerns. Through interactions with other adult students, I found that I was not alone.

My coursework was challenging and rigorous. I learned to think creatively and critically. I was empowered to do my best. My professors challenged me, and the end result is my bachelor’s degree.

The boost to my self-esteem is priceless. This journey has shown me what I am capable of as an adult returning to school. I now recognize that I can move forward in my journey to obtain my master’s degree—and a Ph.D. is not out of the question.  The confidence I feel going forward and seeking employment, I attribute to Union Institute and University.

While earning her bachelor’s degree in social work, Lisha Lungelow balanced one full-time job, one part-time job, and raising two children. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the National Association of Black Social Workers. Lisha is a lifelong resident of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Learn more about Union Institute & University's Social Work program.

Read more National Commencement graduate stories:
Annette Aron, Ed.D.
Kenzia Carpenter, Ph.D.
Linda S. Hon, Ed.D.

Graduation Spotlight: Kezia Carpenter, Ph.D.

Union Institute & University's National Commencement is October 12, 2013 in Cincinnati. To celebrate, we are highlighting a few of the upcoming doctoral graduates. Each participant was asked to write a response, in their own words, to the question “How has your Union experience changed your life?”

Kezia Carpenter
Ph.D. with a concentration in Humanities and Culture, 2012
Sussman Award Recipient, 2013
New York, New York

When I encountered the complex issues that transnational families confront as an educational consultant in Ecuador and a program director for Early Head Start and Head Start programs in Queens, New York, I made a personal and professional commitment to pursue a doctoral degree to help me understand migration-based family separation. After looking at other doctoral programs, I found that Union Institute & University’s Cohort Ph.D. Program’s approach—the scholar-practitioner model—would be the right path for me. I came to Union with twenty years of experience in human services, specifically community mental health counseling and early childhood and elementary education. I am a certified teacher in New York and a licensed counselor in Ohio and New York, with graduate degrees in both of these fields. I needed a doctoral program that would help me pull together my prior professional background and take my academic and professional training to the next level.

As a student in the Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program, I strengthened my interdisciplinary foundation through the coursework and my scholarly interactions with other doctoral students and faculty at the academic residencies and conference days. The Humanities and Culture concentration was a good fit for me with its emphasis on narrative and cultural studies scholarship, along with Union’s integrated ethics and social justice focus. Listening to family member stories in Mexico and New York and trying to understand what they communicate about transnational family identity processes, agency, and family stress and resiliency was paramount to my professional goal of using my research to inform education and social service program policies. With this policy-based end in mind, I partnered with the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association for my dissertation research. Ultimately, my doctoral experience at Union helped me cultivate and strengthen my voice as an emerging leader in my fields and as an advocate for migrant and immigrant families and their young children.

Since my dissertation study and the completion of my degree, I have presented at the Head Start 10th National Research Conference, the Office of Head Start’s First National Birth to Five Leadership Institute, and the 40th National Head Start Conference. I have taken on more senior-level management responsibilities in my position as a program director for the University Settlement Society of New York. I coach other early care and education leaders at the Settlement and represent the International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (IFS) as a member of the NGO Committee on Migration at the United Nations. This past summer I began consulting for Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services in Washington, D.C. as they develop training and technical assistance materials to strengthen collaborations between Refugee Resettlement agencies and Head Start programs across the country. Lastly, I am an international volunteer with Restoring Family Links (RFL) at the American Red Cross of Greater New York, helping reconnect family members across borders and informing their new migration initiative that is evaluating how we can use RFL services to reunite family members separated at the Mexico-US border. In many ways, graduating from Union Institute & University feels like the beginning of a new era. Post-degree I am better prepared to embark upon my life’s work and I appreciate the new community of colleagues—nationally and internationally—I have gained throughout this process.

Dr. Kezia Carpenter is the first woman on the maternal side of her family to earn a college degree and she is the proud great-granddaughter of a woman who migrated to Cincinnati during the Great Depression to give her young daughter and future family a better life. Dr. Carpenter's dissertation Family in the Borderlands/la Frontera: Transnational Narratives of Mexican Migrant Parents and their Young Children recently earned the coveted Sussman Award based on excellence in all criteria – originality, interdisciplinarity, social meaning, quality of writing, and overall presentation.

Dr. Carpenter graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Miami University in 1988. As she embarked on her community mental health career in Cincinnati during the early nineties, she simultaneously pursued a Master of Education in Agency and Community Counseling at Xavier University (1992) and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Counseling at the University of Cincinnati (1996). Mid-career she decided to focus on serving young children and families. She moved to New York City where she attended Bank Street College of Education and earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education in 2000. Kezia is a certified teacher in New York and a licensed counselor in Ohio and New York. She is a member of the National Council on Family Relations and a member of the International Society of the Study of Narrative.

Learn more about Union Institute & University’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program.

Read more National Commencement graduate stories:
Annette Aron, Ed.D.
Lisha Lungelow
Linda S. Hon, Ed.D.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Union’s MLK Studies featured on MSNBC

MLK Studies, Andrea Scarpino
Professor Andrea Scarpino
MLK Studies, Ray Jordan
Ray Jordan
On September 6, 2013 Al Sharpton hosted “Advancing the Dream” at the Apollo Theater, a live television event focused on the civil rights movement. As part of the pre-show, MSNBC produced a live web discussion featuring Union Institute & University Professor Andrea Scarpino and student Ray Jordan from Union’s MLK Studies specialization! Click here to watch the complete web chat.
Learn more about Union Institute & University’s MLK Studies specialization here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bachelor of Arts Experience Day in New England

October 5, 2013

Bachelor Degree, Union Institute & University

New England Academic Center
28 Vernon Street, Suite 210
Brattleboro, Vermont 05301-3669

Discover Union Institute & University's unique low-residency Bachelor of Arts program, meet current students, faculty, and staff and participate in discussions and study groups. Our Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Liberal Studies offers concentrations in arts, writing & literature; education; global studies, history & culture; and psychology & human development.

Stay in the afternoon for lunch and classes.

9:00 - 9:30am - registration/coffee
9:30 - 10:30am - program overview
10:30am - 12:00pm - classroom participation

For details contact: or 888-828-8575 x8900

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9/11 Reflections

In remembrance of September 11, 2001, some of Union Institute & University's California-area first responders share their thoughts about the day, and how their career fields have changed after 9/11.

Tim Martin, Union Institute & University
Tim Martin is a police officer for Merced Community College District Police Department in California and he is also a current student in Union Institute and University’s criminal justice management program. Tim has been a law enforcement officer for more than 20 years and he is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard.

It has been twelve years since September 11, 2001, when terrorists coordinated attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. These are my thought and memories of the fateful day.

At that time, I was employed as a Deputy Marshal for the County of Merced in California. I went to work that day with a heavy heart after being awakened in the morning to the news of what had happened and what was occurring throughout our country. My thoughts were of my fellow law enforcement officers and firefighters who were dealing with the worst possible situation they had probably ever encountered in their careers. And, little did I know of the enormous loss of professional first responders who had already made the ultimate sacrifice.

The realization of those events as they unfolded became evident to me when I was loading equipment into my patrol vehicle. It was during that moment I heard an aircraft that I identified as an F-16 fighter jet streaking across the sky and heading west. What caught my attention was that I could see that the aircraft was armed with ordinance. I remember thinking to myself “I can’t believe this is happening.” I also wondered where the pilot and his aircraft were going and what dangers lay ahead for him.

The events of September 11 have strengthened public safety. Communities are better prepared with specialized training and equipment but even with this, there is still one important factor—the dedicated professionals who do their jobs every day in their communities. They are just like the professionals who rushed into the twin towers and the Pentagon. They knew the risks but did their jobs as true professionals, as well as true Americans. Many of them sacrificed their own lives so that others could live. Only a great country such as ours can produce such professionalism.

Today we reflect upon those professional first responders and the sacrifices they made on that tragic day; our thoughts and prayers go out to their love ones. They will always be remembered as heroes. God Bless them and god bless the United States of America.

Sergeant Major Richard M. Burth
Sergeant Major Richard M. Burth earned his B.S. in emergency services management from Union Institute & University in 2013. He is currently the Operations Sergeants Major of the 185th Military Police Battalion as well as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for the joint task force Domestic Support-Counterdrug. He has deployed on numerous occasions in support of natural disasters throughout the U.S. as well as the first Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom (CONUS and OCONUS), and Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a civilian, he is employed as an anti-terrorism specialist.

The California National Guard (CNG) has been responding and protecting the citizens of California for over 160 years, but after 9/11 the CNG realized the need to refocus their efforts on emergency preparedness, response, and coordination with every level of government. The CNG began developing, improving, and enforcing standardized operational plans (SOP) and trained personnel to be proficient in military and civilian operational planning methods. SOP’s were built to incorporate standardized emergency management system (SEMS), national incident management system (NIMS), the national response framework (NRF,) and the joint military operations planning doctrine. When Major General David S. Baldwin was appointed as the California National Guard's Adjutant General, he directed that the top mission and responsibility would be to rapidly respond to state emergencies with a robust, coordinated force that would be drilled and prepared for the situations it faced. He also directed that, in addition to working with our local first-responders, the CNG would also focus on enhancing coordination with its active duty partners, bringing CNG commanders closer to their U.S. Northern Command counterparts.

I found myself fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time due to multiple deployments after 9/11 fighting the Global War on Terrorism, the expiration of my P.O.S.T. certifications, and my service in the California National Guard. For my entire adult life I had focused on my education and serving in the law enforcement field, but due to some financial hardship after obtaining my dream job, I had to resign my position as a Del Norte County Deputy Sheriff and apply elsewhere when the events of 9/11 occurred. I was employed by the CNG’s Joint Counterdrug Task Force as well as a Platoon Sergeant in a military police company in the CNG. I deployed immediately after the events of that tragic day. I spent a year at Ft. Lewis, Washington as well as a year in Iraq. During that period, my California P.O.S.T certificate expired. I was also approached by the CNG and offered the opportunity to assist with the establishment of a Federal Anti-Terrorism Assessment team, later known as Full Spectrum Integrated Vulnerability Assessment team (F.S.I.V.A.) as well as the Critical Infrastructure Protection-Mission Assurance Assessment team (CIP-MAA). I conducted anti-terrorism assessments using the two different methodologies for approximately four years with a team of seven people.

During that period with the F.S.I.V.A. team I also assisted with the initial development of the current CNG-Disaster Response Plan. I was promoted and assigned as the First Sergeant of a military police company that was the initial Quick Response Force (QRF) for the State of California. I was deployed again to Afghanistan for another year. However, because of my training and experience with the two different Department of Defense methodologies I earned a position with the California Emergency Management Agency (CAL-EMA) within the Critical Infrastructure Protection Division upon my return. I was also assigned to the CNG-Joint Force Headquarters, Joint Operation Center (JOC) as the Operations Sergeants Major. I gained more experience and training within the State JOC managing large-scale responses for state emergencies and was able to obtain my degree in emergency services management from Union Institute & University.

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved at the ground level in developing the capabilities to identify the threats, vulnerabilities, and hazards to the state as well as the emergency response plans to address them. I am currently on a military leave-of-absence from my CIP position with CAL-EMA and working for the joint task force Domestic Support-Counterdrug, a program that provides assets and resources to secure California’s portion of the southwest border. Domestic Support-Counterdrug also fights the war on drug production and transportation within the State of California.

Union Institute & University
Brett Schneider has nearly 18 years of experience working as an emergency medical technician and he has served as a full-time police officer in Northern California for the last seven years. Brett recently earned his bachelor’s degree in emergency services management at Union Institute and University's Sacramento campus. He plans to continue his studies, applying for Union’s new Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program that begins in January.

I can vividly remember where I was and what I was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. I had just started my shift as an EMT and had arrived at my station in Colfax, California. My partner and I turned on the news and observed the events that have since changed the way emergency services personnel live and work. Between calls, we watched and waited to see the extent of the damage and the impact on our lives. In the years following those events, I went back to school, changed professions and I am now a police officer. I can’t say I made this change as a result of 9/11, but those events strengthened my desire to work in law enforcement.

The events of 9/11 brought new roles and responsibilities to all emergency responders nationwide. The threats are different for each agency based on their area of operation as well as the potential threats in and around those locations. Working in a semi-rural community, the idea of vehicles carrying large amounts of farming chemicals was not something I would have noticed before 9/11. Now it not only raises my suspicion, but I along with many other officers carry a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) response kit as part of our daily equipment.

Overall, my work hasn't changed nearly as much as many other officer's jobs have. Each of us has accepted a new normal—from the way we board aircraft or ships, to the level of security at major sporting events—each person’s life has changed as a result of 9/11, not just emergency responders. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Time-Saving Secrets from Union Students

Union Institute & University students are extremely busy adults who must manage time carefully and balance their many responsibilities. Juggling work, school, family, volunteer, and social life activities can be a challenge. They seem to operate on a day with more than 24 hours! To find out how they manage it all, we asked four outstanding Union Institute & University students to share their top-ten secrets for succeeding as adult students.

Nikki Dominique, Union Institute & University

Nikki Dominique | Cincinnati, Ohio

Academic Program: 

Master of Arts with a concentration in 
Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues

  1. Use your lunch hour for studying. Find a quiet place at work or go sit in your car and get some reading done. If you do this all week, you gain five extra hours of studying or five hours of free time in the evening or weekends to do something fun/relaxing with friends and family. 
  2. Take one day off per week. Set aside one day, whether a week day or a weekend and don’t do any school work. It’s important to take time away from the stress of school work so you don’t burn out. 
  3. Start out ahead and stay ahead. Use Sunday to prepare for the upcoming week, not as catch up for the previous week. Start your reading on Sunday so you can post early in the week. That way, if life gets hectic you have some wiggle room to get things done. This also helps your fellow students who need to respond to your online posts. 
  4. If you have school-aged children, create family homework time. Complete your homework while your children complete theirs. If your children are not in school yet, have them color or complete an activity book. 
  5. Communicate openly and frequently with your professors. If you are struggling with the content or the deadlines, talk to your instructors. Union has great professors, they will have ideas to help and will review content with you. 
  6. Be honest with family and friends. Let them know you are starting school and how excited you are. Prepare them for the fact that you will have less time and may need to cut back on commitments and/or social outings. If they care about you, they will understand and support you on your new adventure. 
  7. Stay organized. Keep a calendar, either electronic or an old-fashioned paper planner. Write in all of your school assignments, family commitments, and work assignments. Take a look at your planner every morning and evening to prioritize and keep on track with all of your tasks. 
  8. Reward yourself. Just finished a big paper or hard reading assignment? Go out for ice cream or have your favorite candy bar. Going back to school is a challenge so recognize your accomplishments, even if they are small. It will keep you in a positive state of mind. 
  9. Write down the top five reasons you are going back to school. Post that list somewhere that you will see it on a regular basis. When you are feeling overwhelmed and/or frustrated, look at those reasons to remind yourself why getting a degree is important to you. 
  10. Make friends with your fellow students, even if you only ever speak online. These are the people who are going through the same things that you are. They understand your struggles and your triumphs. Your fellow students are a good support system and sounding board.
Nikki Dominique earned her undergraduate degree from Ohio University in 2002. She served in both the insurance and construction industries before joining Union Institute & University’s admissions department in October 2012. In addition to working, she is pursuing her M.A. with a concentration in Leadership, Public Policy, and Social Issues. She was drawn to the university’s online master’s degree program for its freedom in program design and flexibility to fit into her busy schedule.

Joe Behler, Union Institute & University
Joe Behler | Cincinnati, Ohio

Academic Program: 

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)
  1. Make sure your significant partner/friends/family understands the commitment you are making to doctoral study. 
  2. Track the number of hours you spend each week on any Psy.D. doctoral work. This includes reading, ProSem, etc. I was surprised to learn I spent 29 hours a week in my first semester. 
  3. After recording your average number of hours, then become more efficient. For example, I used voice dictation software to write papers and reduced the hours per week to 23-25. 
  4. I worked full time my first year, against the advice of faculty, and this was a mistake. I reduced my work from 40 hours to 32 hours for my second, third, and fourth years and this helped. 
  5. Read articles and books whenever possible. I often read at work when a client would not show or cancel an appointment. I gained some study time in this manner. 
  6. Self-care is critical. Exercise, eating, and sleeping well are very important. I had to be careful about staying up too late doing school work, missing sleep and then feeling run down. 
  7. I had to cut back some friendships and I focused on my partner, children, close friends, and family. There is a loss here but I would catch up on breaks, during the summer, and after four years. 
  8. Organization is critical. I used my calendar to write down every assignment due date. If you follow the faculty program of expected classes and do not stray from it you will finish. 
  9. I had the luxury of living in close proximity to the ProSem site. If you live farther away and must travel, get advice from student travelers on how to manage this time issue. 
  10. I have fond memories of the extended weeks in Brattleboro and Cincinnati. After class we had fun together. Bond with your classmates and get to know the wonderful faculty.
Joe Behler selected the distance learning doctoral psychology program (Psy.D.) at Union Institute & University because the program allowed him to maintain a job in psychology while completing his doctoral coursework. Face-to-face training was on weekends mostly, once a month and two extended weeks each year, which gave Joe time for family commitments and studying.

Counseling Psychology Union Institute & University
Emily Dunham | Lincoln, Vermont

Academic Program:

Master of Arts with a Concentration in 
Counseling Psychology
  1. Do your homework!! Not just the readings/papers/tests, but also research specific state and national requirements for your chosen major. Develop a plan for after graduation and determine exactly what it's going to take to get there.
  2. Be your own advocate. Part of graduate school involves increased personal responsibility to determine what you want in school, work, and life overall. Go for it! Find out who is going to be able to help you reach your goals and utilize them.
  3. Don't procrastinate. This is big. I am notorious for saving everything until the last minute, and I can always count on a few miserable weekends towards the end of each term. Believe me, things are MUCH easier if you start early.
  4. Use the writing center and your peers. This is easier said than done, but as this program is so independent, it can be easy to get off track and discouraged when you have no one to bounce your ideas off of. The writing center is always available to help!
  5. Research Capstone early. A very useful part of the Capstone project is being able to incorporate earlier pieces of your own papers throughout the course of your educational career. After all, you can't plagiarize yourself! This is super helpful, but in order to really take advantage of this, you need to start thinking about your Capstone early and writing papers that can be tied to it later on.
  6. Get to know your peers. I was not great with this over the course of my time at Union. The residencies are extremely useful to build relationships with other students, but only if you choose to engage. The residencies give us an opportunity to share our experiences with others who are balancing the same things and can be a very useful tool to enhance self-care.
  7. On that note, pay attention to self-care. It's easy to lose ourselves in balancing the job, internship, school work, kids etc. It's very important to take time for ourselves in order to be fully present for our other responsibilities. I have found that self-care is the easiest thing to neglect in grad school and perhaps the most important thing to nurture.
  8. Start looking for internship sites early. It's important to start this process very early. Think about what you are interested in. Submit several applications. Place follow-up calls. Identify a contact person to reconnect with to express your interest. It took me months to nail down a site and straighten out all of the details. Do yourself a favor and don't save this until last minute!
  9. Research financial resources. Contact the financial aid office to ask about scholarships. As my time here at Union is drawing to a close, I am not faced with repaying my loans. Make sure to consider how these will impact you in the future. There are plenty of resources out there; you just need to take the time to seek them out.
  10. Overall, my best piece of advice is to start early with everything and to speak up when you have questions. Union has plenty of very supportive and knowledgeable staff, and because of the online format, there is an increased personal responsibility to reach out for assistance when you need it. I have never had anyone ignore my questions or point me in the wrong direction.
Emily Dunham lives with her fiance and three dogs in Addison County, Vermont, where the couple recently purchased their first home. She works full-time at an animal hospital and also works 20 hours per week at an intensive outpatient treatment facility as part of her internship requirements for graduation. She really enjoys working with individuals trying to obtain recovery and she hopes to secure employment in this field upon graduation from Union Institute & University.

Nashid Shakir, Union Institute & University
Nashid Shakir | Cincinnati, Ohio

Academic Program: Master of Arts with a concentration in Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues
  1. Online learners must take control in planning their learning pace (Chizmar & Walbert, 1999), and also be realistic about their capabilities as they learn better about themselves, they must be willing to do better
  2. They must monitor their own learning comprehension. (Shapley, 2000). 
  3. They must make judgments on various aspects in their learning process (Petrides, 2002) and their personal learning style. 
  4. Learners need to become aware of and actively explore various learning resources in an online learning context (Sener & Stover, 2000) with an understanding that their every subject and everything they learn on the front end of their academic journey is to prepare them for the rigid requirements that will be demanded of them at the end of their journey and that the whole is a combination of its parts. 
  5. Learners need to develop strategies to effectively use resources and overcome challenges that are uniquely associated with online learning (e.g., written communication) (Hill, 2002). 
  6. Online learners need to become motivated to overcome the procrastination challenge associated with online learning (see Elvers, Polzella, & Graetz, 2003), and to take advantage of online communication affordances to create meaningful interaction (King, 2002). 
  7. Online learning provides flexibility for learners to pace their own study (Chizmar & Walbert, 1999). The anytime, anywhere feature of asynchronous online learning provides learners with the ability to plan their activities at the time and the place that are most convenient for them (Palloff & Pratt, 1999). This can often feed procrastination because the learners most always allow themselves more time than they actually they have. Be very careful, procrastination may be your biggest culprit! 
  8. Learners still have the flexibility to choose the most convenient place from which to create their own learning space (Song et al., 2004), and decide on their own learning pace and sequence (Chizmar & Walbert, 1999). Be careful and do not over estimate your abilities or capacity. 
  9. In an online learning environment, the monitoring responsibilities are in large part left to the learner. They must decide whether they understand the subject correctly [or not] (Shapley, 2000) or are heading in the right direction with their course work. Even though your professor may be only an email away, he or she may also not be! 
  10. The level of responsibility for seeking assistance is also on you as the learner. It’s your time, your money, and ultimately your responsibility if you succeed or not!
Nashid Shakir has worked in social services and community capacity building for the past 25 years. Union Institute & University became a path to increase his effectiveness as a social entrepreneur. In his direct social environment there are a plethora of doctoral-level graduates and candidates from Union working to bring about productive change. These alumni and their achievements inspired Nashid to join Union's master of arts program.