Congratulations 2023 graduates!

Over 250 adult learners earned their diplomas at the 2023 National Commencement on July 9 at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, Ohio. The graduates hailed from seven countries, 30 states, and Armed Forces Europe. The oldest graduate was 67 and the youngest was 21.

The Cincinnati Women’s Choir serenaded the audience as the ceremony was called to order. New Ph.D. graduate Tammy Richardson gave an inspirational invocation. President Webb welcomed the guests and praised the graduates for their hard work and welcomed them to the Union’s legacy of pursuing professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

Julie Spencer Washington received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

The commencement address was given by alumna Julie Spencer Washington, SVP, and chief marketing, communications & customer experience officer of Trinity Health. Mrs. Washington delivered a speech full of encouragement and referenced her mother’s recipe for life – live joyously and never quit.

Dr. Webb and Board of Trustee President Edgar Smith honored Mrs. Washington with the university’s highest honor, the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa. Dr. Webb praised Mrs. Washington as a change agent committed to the advancement of a culturally pluralistic, equitable, and interdependent world.

Other highlights of the ceremony included:

Guyma Noel, winner of the Marvin B. Sussman award

• 2023 Marvin B. Sussman Doctoral Award for Excellence in Dissertation presented to Guyma Noel for his dissertation, A Capabilities Theory of Collective Land Rights in Payment for Ecosystems (PES) Schemes among Afro-Descent Communities: A Comparative Study of the Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Colombians.

• 2022 Faculty Award for Excellence in Service given to Amy Obszarski, M.A.

• 2022 Faculty Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Service given to Zoe Chang, M.A., and Muswamba Mwamba D.P.H., M.P.H., IBCLC.

• 2023 Brian Webb Award for Outstanding Master of Arts Thesis presented to Sarah Bergh, Kelsey Corlew, Nicole Ferweda, Nadia Lopez, Meghan O’Leary, and Sparkle Sangster.

• 2023 Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching presented to retiring professor Dr. Beryl Warnick.

• 2023 Faculty Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Teaching given to Linda Smith, M.P.H., FACCE, IBCLC, FILCA.

Dr. Anu Mitra named Professor Emerita

• Retiring professor Dr. Anu Mitra was honored for her 35 years of teaching by being named Professor Emerita.

• Recognition of veterans – Designated by wearing a special red, white, and blue honor cord, in recognition of their service to our country.

Graduates praised Union for their degrees. “Union graduates ethical leaders for social change.” Wendy Westmoreland said, “Union gave me my voice to advocate for women and children.”

Congratulations to our new alumni. They join the legacy of commitment to honor Union’s 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.