On its website, Union Institute & University highlights the theme of “Your Personal University”. After chatting with Toni M. Soldano, Director of Enrollment at the non-profit institution, I can understand why.
“We were the original university without walls,” stated Soldano. “Now that landscape is open to everyone, and we’re really conscious of it. Because we’re small, we’re able to really connect with every student. But what really makes us unique is that we cater to the non-traditional adult learner.
“Many schools are fine for younger students, but for our students, generally non-traditional adult students, or returning students, it can make a huge difference. We like it and we’re good at it.”
Union Institute & University was started in 1964 as a consortium of ten university presidents, a “think tank”, who got together to discuss how to best service non-traditional students. They focused on adults who never went to college, people who may have started and didn’t finish, those who wanted to advance in their current careers, career changers, and military personnel, both active and retired.
They began by offering graduate degrees and soon grew into a full university. The school now offers Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programs in 23 areas of study.
“We were founded primarily on distance learning,” explained Soldano, “What was called ‘Correspondence Classes’ before everything went online. Students received a packet and mailed in their homework for grading. Of course, now everything is available on the internet.”
However, she is quick to point out, some of the classes are ‘on the ground’ and many are hybrid, a combination of live and online.
Here in the Hollywood location on Sheridan Street, there are faculty working directly with students in the Early Education program every Saturday, while Criminal Justice Management classes are held at various police departments throughout Broward and Dade counties.
“This program is geared to people already in law enforcement, who want to advance in their careers,” Soldano pointed out. “We articulate police academy credits into degree programs, to help people quickly move ahead where they are. Similar programs are available in other industries as well.
“We have a really generous transfer policy of credits and life experience,” she continued. “Police can come in with up to 90 credits; they only need another 30 which they can complete in a year for a Bachelor’s degree.
“And just coming to class is an opportunity for exchanging job information and opening all kinds of doors.”
Union Institute & University is based in a stately Cincinnati building worthy of its dignified name. In addition to Hollywood, the school has satellite campuses in Sacramento and Los Angeles, CA.
Union Institute & University mixes a lot of tradition with a lot of state of the art programs designed to get the students educated and advanced in their careers. As mentioned, they have a very generous transfer policy and work closely with students to get them maximum credit for all their work and life experience as well as their previous schooling. They’ve been recognized many times for unique program offerings, recognized as a member of the National Fraternal Order of Police University, and serving as a Yellow Ribbon school for both veterans and active military.
Union Institute & University’s online bachelor degree program has been ranked on the list of best online degree programs for 2018 by U.S. News and World Report. And in January, the school’s Master of Arts Online Program Health & Wellness Lactation Consultant Distance Degree Program was awarded initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).CAAHEP is the largest programmatic accreditor in the health sciences field. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits over 2000 educational programs in twenty-six (26) health science occupations. (Source: CAAHEP)
Recently, the Hollywood location of Union Institute & University set up a computer lab and complemented it with a laptop loaner program for adult learners who don’t have access to their own home computer.
“We want to eliminate any barrier to anyone who wants to continue or complete their education, at any age or for any reason,” said Soldano.