Union Institute & University National Virtual Commencement Announces U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis is Keynote Speaker

U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis

Union Institute & University National Virtual Commencement is Sunday, October 25, 2020, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern/11a.m. Pacific.

The celebration marks the hard work of our graduating class who have completed their degrees while working, taking care of their families, and staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.

While the virtual ceremony became necessary because of the worldwide corona virus pandemic, it will be no less memorable and will allow families to gather safely and participate from around the globe. The graduation will celebrate each student as their photograph in regalia, earned degree and a short quote is projected. The slides can be shared via social media. Additionally, each student has the opportunity to post a short ‘selfie’ video that will be included in the ceremony’s broadcast. Immediately following the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates will be able to enter Zoom Chat Rooms customized to their degree and major, and where they can join fellow graduates and faculty.

The program will open with a performance by the renowned Soul Children of Chicago, under the direction of Mr. Walter Whitman. The Reverend Dr. M. Merritt Worthen, a 2020 graduate of Union’s Ph.D. program and Senior Pastor at College Hill Community Church in Dayton, Ohio will deliver the invocation.

President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb and Provost Dr. Nelson Soto will deliver greetings and host the ceremony. Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Edgar L. Smith Jr. will confer the degrees upon the graduates representing six degree programs from undergraduate to doctoral degrees.

Keynote speaker is the Honorable Danny K. Davis, who earned his Ph.D. from Union in 1977. U.S. Congressional Representative Davis has served as the U.S. Representative from Illinois’s Seventh Congressional District since 1996. He has spent his life championing social justice and is a servant leader whose life parallels Union’s mission to transform lives and communities. The congressman is a champion for higher education and the pursuit of equity of access to educational excellence and has dedicated his career to the advancement of racial, ethnic, and underrepresented populations in higher education. He is resolutely committed to preserving our democracy, protecting social security, maintaining our nation’s gains in civil and human rights, women’s rights, voting rights, protection of the environment, consumer and labor protections, ensuring quality, affordable health care for all while maintaining his long term focus on issues of job creation, poverty, health care, education, youth and criminal justice reform.

Congressman Davis also serves on the Committee on Ways and Means and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, the Urban Caucus, Community Health Center’s Caucus, Congressional Sugar Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Re-entry.

More than 112 students will participate, representing more than 400 students who have earned degrees in the following areas: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Master of Education, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Other highlights include the following:

Marvin B. Sussman Award for Excellence in Dissertation recipients:

  • Linda Kligman, PhD., “Widening Circles: A Grounded Theory Study of Workplace Leadership.”
  • Kathryn Turley-Sonne, PhD., “Curating the Contemporary Art Witch Movement.”
  • Honorable mention Allison Budaj, PhD.
  • Honorable mention Emery Francois, PhD.

Brian Webb Award for Outstanding Master of Arts Thesis recipients:

  • Adrienne Dyslin, Creativity Studies, “The Influence of Chef Thomas Keller: A Culinary Creativity Case Study”
  • Miya Fowler, History & Culture, “Reaching Back, Feeling In, Dancing Forward: The Convergence of African Dance and Somatics for the Negotiation of Black Women’s Embodiment”
  • Grace Goodwin Dwyer, Health & Wellness, “Experience of Women Following a Low Carbohydrate Diet While Breastfeeding”
  • Petra Anne Roser, Literature & Writing, “The Female Narrative in Addiction Memoir”

Faculty Awards

Award for Excellence in Teaching

  • Sarah Bergh, PhD., Master of Arts Assistant Director/Faculty and Bachelor of Science, General Education

Certificate of Distinction

  • Annie Lee, PhD., Bachelor of Science, General Education affiliate

Mark Dunakin Memorial Awards for Extraordinary Achievement

  • Sergeant/Detective Marya Mason, B.S., 2020, Los Angeles Police Department
  • Detective James Tidwell, B.S., 2020, Sacramento County Sheriff Department

International Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award

  • Rudolph C. Ryser, Ph.D., 1996, CEO/Exec Director, Center for World Indigenous Studies

International Alumni Association Legacy Alumni Award

  • Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas, B.S., 2012

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

Congratulations to our graduates. They now join the more than 20,000 alumni who continue to bring honor to Union’s mission to provide creative and achievable pathways and solutions for students to be engaged, enlightened, and empowered and to pursue a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

To learn more about National Commencement, click here.