Today's Union Institute and University (UI&U) is a private, non-profit university specializing in limited residence and distance learning programs. It began in 1964 as a conference-inspired initiative of 10 liberal arts institutions on educational innovation and experimentation, called The Union for Research and Experimentation in Higher Education. After an evolution that included changes in name, initiation of a graduate program (as the The Union Graduate School), and financial reorganization as the The Union Institute, the Institute's acquisition of an undergraduate institution (Vermont College, Montpelier, Vermont) in 2001 provided the interim array of programs and structures that have evolved into the current UI&U. The institution maintains regional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which began in 1985.
Union Institute and University traces its origins to 1964, when the president of Goddard College hosted the presidents of nine other liberal arts institutions at a conference to discuss cooperation in innovation and experimentation (Barrett, 1972). 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 (Barrett, 1972).
Renamed The Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities in 1969, Samuel Baskin, a psychologist and educational reformer from the faculties of Stephens and Antioch Colleges, was its founding president (The Antiochian, 2002). The Union directed its focus toward providing educational opportunities for non-traditional students whose needs were best served by a low-residency college experience, as well as those students who sought to conduct socially relevant research in an interdisciplinary manner. By 1971, five more colleges and universities joined the Union, bringing the total consortium to 22 schools of higher education (Barrett, 1972).
The Union had a continuing emphasis from its inception on programs on social relevance and interdisciplinarity of research. The Union provided administrative support for a number of programs run by its member schools, under the title The University Without Walls (UWW), a further initiative of Samuel Baskin (The Antiochian, 2002). The UECU disbanded in 1982, but the UWW organization remained in operation (Grady, 1989).
This section requires expansion with: description, with sources, of the institution and program in the years from 1978 to 2001. (November 2015)
The Union's consortium filed for bankruptcy in 1978, and the UECU disbanded in 1982; emerging from its bankruptcy, the surviving UWW was renamed sometime between 1986 and 1989 (Grady, 1989), as The Union Institute.
This section requires expansion with: description, with sources, of graduate programs in the years from 1970 to 1989. (November 2015)
One component of the UWW was the initiation of graduate training through an institution called The Union Graduate School; the first doctoral students were admitted in 1970 (Fairfield, 1979, p. 17). Doctoral programs were based on the tutorial system.
The Union Graduate School, as a component of the UWW, remained in operation when UECU disbanded in 1982 (Grady, 1989). In 1986 or 1989, when the UWW was renamed The Union Institute, The Union Graduate School was renamed The Graduate School of The Union Institute (Grady, 1989).
This section requires expansion with: description, with sources, of the development of the combined undergraduate and graduate programs from 2001. (November 2015)
The Union Institute acquired Vermont College in Montpelier, Vermont from Norwich University. In October, 2001, Union was renamed Union Institute and University. The purchase of Vermont College added several Master's degree programs and an Adult Degree Program to Union Institute & University’s existing undergraduate and doctoral programs. This enabled The Union to provide a progression of degree opportunities, along with certificates in advanced graduate study.
The Union Institute & University's Ph.D. program came under scrutiny by the Ohio Board of Regents, culminating in a 2002 Reauthorization Report. In response to the Report, The Union has undergone major academic and structural changes, including dissolution of The Union Graduate School and restructuring of Ph.D. programs. The Ph.D. in Arts and Sciences, for example, was redesigned to a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies.
Barrett, L. (1972). Report of a visit to the University Without Walls by the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities Yellow Springs, Ohio, May, 1972 for the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. ED083909. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED083909
Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities. (1970). University without walls: A proposal for an experimental degree program in undergraduate education. ED067064. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED067064