Union Institute & University 50th Anniversary Recap


In 2014 Union Institute & University celebrated its 50th anniversary with events that recognized the university’s unique legacy. Union alumni were featured across the country—from Age Wave’s Ken Dychtwald (Ph.D. 1976) to Prime Minister of Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller (B.A. 1997), to a panel of Union Institute & University Ph.D. alumni who are now serving as college/university presidents.

IMG_6496 smallEarly in the year the university unveiled a new seal and logo to commemorate the anniversary. The new presidential seal was visible at commencement ceremonies on the new mace, presidential medal, lapel pins, stoles of gratitude, commencement programs, and diplomas. The university’s 50th anniversary logo was used throughout the year on all communications, including the website, advertising, printed materials, and promotional items.

Throughout 2014 congratulatory notes and proclamations were received from across the country, including President Obama; Governor of Vermont Peter Shumlin; Governor of Florida Rick Scott; Governor of Ohio John Kasich; Ohio US Senator Sherrod Brown; Mayor of Cincinnati John Cranley; City of Cincinnati Councilmember Chris Seelbach; President of Cincinnati Christian University Dr. David Faust; and the President of Chatfield College John Tafaro. On May 8, 2014 Cincinnati Congressman Steve Chabot entered Union’s 50th anniversary into the Congressional Record.


At the Cincinnati Academic Center Headquarters in April, Union hosted over 100 guests for an informative and lively kick-off event officially announcing the university’s 50th anniversary. Staff, faculty, trustees, alumni, students, friends of the university, other Cincinnati-area university presidents, and local government leaders attended the kick-off. Guests enjoyed the Dr. Daniel J. Ransohoff photo gallery opening, featuring eight framed black and white photos by the late Union Ph.D. alumnus. Vice Mayor of Cincinnati, David Mann joined the festivities and proclaimed April 25, 2014 as Union Institute & University Day. The West Chester Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony in the board room to signify the university’s next 50 years. A video booth captured the remarks, memories, and well wishes of the day. Attendees helped mark Union’s milestone anniversary by bringing small items, anything from the last 50 years, to contribute to the university’s time capsule, which was custom designed and crafted by alumnus, former faculty member, and metal artist Gary Buehler ( Ph.D. 1989). Local media published articles about Union’s history and the kick-off event, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Voice Magazine, Cincinnati Express, Cincinnati Herald, and Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Currents e-newsletter.

IMG_9701 smallOn June 21, 2014 the university hosted a special celebration in Miami, Florida with esteemed Union alumna the most honorable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica. The evening featured a meet and greet with the Prime Minister, appetizers, cash bar, a keynote address delivered by the Prime Minister, and a private dinner for 30 guests following the keynote. The following day, Portia Simpson Miller was part of the Florida Commencement ceremony, delivering a thoughtful keynote presentation. Several news outlets covered Prime Minister Simpson Miller’s visit with Union including Hot 105 FM Miami, Caribbean National Weekly, Miami Herald, Jamaica Observer, and Jamaica Information Service.

Simpson Miller is the first woman to serve Jamaica’s Prime Minister and was in her second term in June 2014. Before first taking office in 2006, her illustrious career included serving as Minister of Labor, Welfare and Sport; Minister of Tourism and Sport; and Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport. She was recently inducted into the prestigious International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of hall-of-famers including Rosa Parks, Nancy Pelosi, and Margaret Thatcher.

union_Dychtwald-27A few days after the celebration in Florida Union hosted a compelling presentation in Cincinnati, Ohio with notable alumnus Dr. Ken Dychtwald, president & CEO of Age Wave. He is North America’s foremost visionary and original thinker regarding the lifestyle, marketing, healthcare and workforce implications of the age wave. Dr. Dychtwald is a psychologist, gerontologist, documentary filmmaker, entrepreneur and best-selling author of 16 books on age-related issues, including Bodymind, Age Wave: The Challenges and Opportunities of an Aging Society, Age Power: How the 21st Century will be Ruled by the New Old, and The Power Years: A User’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life. He also recently earned the prestigious Leadership Award at the Annual American Society on Aging Conference.

A crowd of 168 gathered at the Hall of Mirrors in the Cincinnati Netherland Plaza and enjoyed breakfast, Dr. Dychtwald’s keynote address How the Age Wave Will Change Our Lives, and a book signing session for With Purpose. Cincinnati-area media reported on the event, including TV programs “Issues” and “Business Watch” and local radio personality Jim Scott interviewed Dr. Dychtwald on 500 WLW radio.

Union marks its 10th MLK Legacy Lecture in July with special guest speaker and alumna Alice Skirtz, Ph.D. 2006. Dr. Skirtz is a social worker, community activist, founder of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, and author of Econocide: Elimination of the Urban Poor. This public event was held in Erlanger, Kentucky as part of the July doctoral residency.

On August 24, 2014 Union welcomed over 225 commencers and keynote speaker Major General Sharon K. Dunbar for the California graduation ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. Major General Dunbar is dual-hatted as Commander of the Air Force District of Washington and the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing headquartered at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. As commander, Dunbar is the Uniform Code of Military Justice authority for 40,000 airmen.

_mg_3501In September Union hosted an evening of celebration at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, adjacent to Union’s New England Academic Center. Guests contributed items to the university time capsule and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, and exhibitions at the museum. Governor of Vermont Peter Shumlin, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Patrick Leahy sent letters of congratulations. Local news outlet the Brattleboro Reformer covered the celebration, publishing “Union Institute & University marks 50 years in Vermont.”

union101714-30 smallOn October 17, 2014 Union hosted Changing the Face of Higher Education in Cincinnati. This Presidents’ Forum at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, brought together five of the many Union doctoral alumni who have served as college and university presidents across the nation to deliberate what American higher education will look like in the next 50 years. Dr. Samuel Baskin, Union’s first president, once said that Union was formed to “change the face of American higher education.” The panel included moderator, George A. Pruitt, Ph.D. 1974, president of Thomas Edison State College and chair of the board of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; President and CEO of Saybrook University, Mark Schulman, Ph.D. 1985; former president and chancellor of several California community colleges, Judy E. Walters, Ph.D. 2006; president emeritus of Glen Oaks Community College and chair of the Board of the Higher Learning Commission Gary Wheeler, Ph.D. 2007; and Scott Miller, Ph.D. 1991, president of Bethany College in West Virginia. They reflected on their education at Union, their experiences, and discussed what we can expect and what is demanded of colleges and universities in an era of increasing technology, federal regulations, and demand for job placement. Days before the event, radio personality Jim Scott interviewed president Roger Sublett on 700 WLW radio Cincinnati.

FB-Grad13Union hosted National Commencement on October 18, 2014 at the Hall of Mirrors in the Hilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati. The graduation ceremony featured keynote speaker Felice Nudelman and was attended by more than 70 commencers. Felice Nudelman, appointed Chancellor of Antioch University in 2012, has spent the majority of her career in education both on and off college campuses. Prior to joining Antioch, she spent 12 years with the New York Times Company, where she was executive director of education, where she developed and oversaw education initiatives including The New York Times Knowledge Network, and worked with newsroom and editorial staff on education-related issues. Antioch played a major role in Union’s history. In 1964, it was one of the ten initial colleges that formed the consortium that later became Union Institute & University. Antioch contributed offices for consortium activities on the Yellow Springs campus and provided Union’s first president, Dr. Samuel Baskin.

NOR_1619smUnion’s International Alumni Association Board (IAAB) hosted an Anniversary Auction fundraiser at the Hilton Netherland Plaza on commencement day. The funds raised provided support for the IAAB Endowed Scholarship Fund. The auction featured a wonderful collection of items including vacation getaway packages, wine, jewelry, museum memberships, department store gift cards, and meals at top Cincinnati restaurants. The following morning the IAAB welcomed alumni to a special breakfast event Our Union Legacy: Carrying it Forward featuring alumni panelists Dr. Dana Millen, Social Psychologist; Dr. Don Kagin, Numismatist; Dr. Glenn Kendall, Humane Educator; and Dr. Kim Maynard, International Affairs Expert.

Group Picture WIU small

To close out the year of 50th anniversary celebrations, Union hosted the Women in Union Luncheon on November 17, 2014 at the Cincinnati Academic Center. The university welcomed 85 guests including scholarship recipients, funders, faculty, and mentors. The special lunch honored the remarkable women who have graduated with assistance from the Women in Union scholarship program. The single mothers who earned their degrees and are now transforming lives and communities shared their compelling stories. The event also featured an inspiring keynote presentation from Dr. Rea N. Waldon, who is a Union alumna (Ph.D. 2003) and COO of the Greater Cincinnati Urban League and Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council. The Cincinnati Enquirer published a story on the event in the paper’s Good Neighbor Section.

Other press coverage in November included Cincinnati Business Courier’s Colleges & Universities issue and Corporate Anniversary issue. In December, President Roger Sublett and VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Nelson Soto discussed Union’s 50th anniversary with reporter Mark Hayne on WVXU 91.7 FM Cincinnati Edition.

Dr Ben JustesenAlumnus Dr. Ben Justesen, Ph.D. 2009, is writing Union’s official history in honor of the university’s 50th anniversary. Dr. Justesen, a scholar, journalist, author, and historian, has interviewed former university presidents, trustees, faculty, and others, researching Union’s unique story to set the stage for the next 50 years.