Union Provost Dr. Nelson Soto Appointed to Ohio Department of Education’s Finish for Your Future initiative

Dr. Nelson Soto

Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Union Institute & University, has been named a member of a new initiative to improve access and outcomes for adult learners in Ohio. Finish for Your Future initiative is sponsored by the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, Randy Gardner.

Dr. Soto will be part of one of the working groups that will make recommendations in the following four areas:
1. Closing the Equity Gap. Identify successful strategies Ohio can implement to close the equity gap among underrepresented minorities and with adults in enrollment and completion.
2. High Impact Practices. Research Ohio focused, high impact strategies to increase adult learner enrollment and improve adult learner outcomes.
3. Policy Improvement. Make suggestions for institutional and state policy improvement that can be implemented statewide.
4. Return on Investment. Research the return on investment (ROI) from two vantage points; return on investment for Ohio’s adult learners as well as for Ohio’s postsecondary providers based upon increased adult learner enrollment and success.

“Dr. Soto has a unique view of adult higher education and marginalized populations, including adults, having spent his career serving the non-traditional student. His insights will be valuable as he sheds light on new ways to help adults complete their education and move their careers forward,” said Union President Karen Schuster Webb.

Dr. Soto looks forward to working on issues close to his heart. “I have spent my career working to remove barriers to higher education degrees,” said Dr. Soto. “This working group will make great strides in uncovering impediments to marginalized and underserved populations.”

The appointment also underscores Union’s commitment to its social justice values. Union serves diverse populations: minorities (44 percent), women (56 percent), and an adult population (average age of 39), and focuses on serving the underserved with curriculum that engages difference and applies theory to practice. More than 25 percent of Union’s undergraduate students are Hispanic adult learners, leading to Union being named the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division .

Dr. Soto holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies from Indiana University, Bloomington, a master’s in education, and a bachelor of arts in business from the University of Cincinnati. He came to Union from Harrison College, Indianapolis, where he served as associate provost and vice president for curriculum and instruction from 2010 to 2013. Prior to Harrison College, he served as an assistant dean in the graduate office at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) from 2008 to 2010 and as an instructional development specialist at IUPUI’s Center for Teaching and Learning from 2005 to 2008. Dr. Soto has served as faculty at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in the School of Education; at Indiana University, College of Arts and Sciences; University of Missouri-Columbia, College of Education; and the University of Cincinnati, University College.

In addition, he serves or has served on several boards, including the Hoxworth Blood Center Community Advisory Board, Harvard Business Publishing Advisory Board, Cengage Private Sector Advisory Board, Pearson Service Learning Board, and was chair of the Harrison College Military Advisory Board. He has received numerous grants for his research and efforts, including from the Office for Professional Development, Research Grant ($20,000), the Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate Dissertation Grant, a Professional and Organizational Development Network Grant, and the Maris M. Proffitt and Mary Higgins Proffitt Fellowship at Indiana University.

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