Union Institute closes

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by warguns, Jun 21, 2024.

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  1. warguns

    warguns Member

  2. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Sadly, it had some academic issues and then was circling the drain for a few years. The latest chapter has been bizarre. The President was interesting (perhaps she imploded emotionally and tried to just escape it due to being overwhelmed).

    That said it had a great start and was innovative. Margaret Mead was one of the first professors and Samuel Baskin was its first President.

    "Union Institute & University traces its origins to 1964, when the president of Goddard College hosted the presidents of nine liberal arts institutions at a conference to discuss cooperation in educational innovation and experimentation. The Union for Research and Experimentation in Higher Education was established with Antioch College, Bard College, Goddard College, Chicago Teachers North, Monteith Masson, New College at Hofstra University, Sarah Lawrence College, Shimer College, and Stephens College originally forming The Union for Research and Experimentation in Higher Education, later known as the Union Institute. The "discovery" of the English open education movement may have played a factor in the interest in progressive education.

    From its inception, the institution had a continuing emphasis on social relevance and interdisciplinarity of research. The Union Graduate School's doctoral programs were based on the British tutorial system. The first doctoral students were admitted in 1970. Samuel Baskin, a psychologist and educational reformer who served on the faculty of Stephens and Antioch colleges, was the founding president of the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, Union Graduate School, and the University Without Walls. Margaret Mead, an anthropologist and author, was one of the institution's first professors."

    From Wikipedia
     
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  3. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    <Montage of Goddard College, the Union Institute, etc., closing, over "Breathe Me" by Sia, intercut with footage of the presidents of each university driving out of town>
     
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  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    No, it didn't. It's problems were administrative and financial. There were no concerns regarding academics.

    More than 20 years ago there was a dust-up with the Ohio Board of Regents. While the OBR has some legitimate concerns about quality control of doctoral dissertations, they blew it way out of proportion. (For example, Union's accreditor didn't share those concerns.) It was primarily political, with the OBR dominated by Ohio State, who always had it in for Union. Anyway, a change of leadership, a few changes in the PhD program, and it all went away rather quickly.

    But Union's money problems never did. While the president kept it afloat for two decades, it was his departure that coincided with Union's financial implosion. I can't think it was a coincidence. Where Union failed was in not building a leadership cadre that could run the school, instead of it resting on the shoulders of one man. (I had a couple of very in-depth conversations with him regarding these matters, to no avail.)

    Bottom line: To paraphrase the last line in King Kong, "Oh, no, it wasn't the academics. It was finances killed the beast."
     
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    They have an impressive 72% graduation rate but only 468 students, according to College Scorecard.
     
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Before the most recent administration took over, the school had more than 1,000 students.

    When I considered doing a doctorate by distance learning, there were only a few accredited, short-residency schools in the country. I considered Union, Fielding, International Graduate School, and Nova Southeastern. Walden, CIIS, Sarasota. and Saybrook were not accredited yet. Capella didn't exist. And a whole slew of schools you now know didn't offer DL doctorates back then.

    Of the choices then available, either the student or the school determined these three areas:
    1. What was to be learned
    2. How it was to be learned
    3. How it was to be demonstrated.

    Union had the learner and his/her committee determine all three. Fielding had the learner and advisor determine numbers 2 and 3. And the others, like traditional schools, had the school determine all three.

    The only one that isn't still around is IGS. It was a candidate for accreditation, but it never got there, closing its doors instead. It would be years before Walden and the others would make it, and years after that before we saw some of the biggies finally offer the doctorate. But by the turn of the century, even traditional schools were getting into the game. And all along the way we saw, in a parallel universe, the emergence and development of the NHSC/DETC/DEAC saga.

    Those developments, combined with the California DL craze and the emergence of "less-than-wonderful" schools to go along with blatant diploma mill, made for some interesting times.
     
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  7. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    This is sad.

    As I get older, it seems like it’s almost every month that someone I grew up with or went to school with has died, and DL is starting to feel that way. A lot of the old guard schools from the alt.education.distance days are falling away.

    I remember feeling badly when Goddard closed (even though that school and I would have been as compatible as gasoline and a lit match), heck, I even felt a tinge of nostalgia when Columbia Pacific went under.

    Even the old timer schools that are still with us have changed dramatically; Thomas Edison now offers a fraction of the programs they used to, and Excelsior/Regents doesn’t even resemble the USNY days.

    I suppose that as more mainstream and especially state schools got involved in the DL game, this was inevitable (Purdue’s and Arizona State’s current troubles notwithstanding), but still sad.

    R.I.P. Union.
     
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    It is sad that the innovative models are going away. I earned my TESU (formerly TESC) degrees when the Big Three had no residency requirements, and the focus was credit-by-exam. The likes of Sophia and Study.com have overtaken credit-by-exam. While these ACE and NCCRS courses are cheaper than courses offered by accredited institutions, they are not competency-based.

    Now, we have competency-based degree programs, but it's not the same as CLEP, DSST, ECE/Uexcel, TECEP, and GRE Subject tests. With those, you truly have control over the cost and pace of your education. Competency-based degree programs are subscriptions. You can only earn credits while enrolled, and the longer you take, the more you're charged.
     
  9. freeloader

    freeloader Member

    Over the last five years, I emailed Union at least 6 or 7 times asking for information about their doctoral programs. I received a grand total of one response, which consisted of a one sentence response saying that I should apply and they would then answer my questions. I found that…suboptimal. I’m disappointed they closed, but if my experience is in any way representative, I am not surprised.
     

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