Sam Baskin – Founder and First President of Union Institute & University

Sam Baskin – Founder and First President of Union Institute & University

Sam BaskinIn the downstairs lobby of Union Institute & University’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, hangs a framed, black and white photograph of Samuel Baskin, who, more than 40 years ago, laid the groundwork for what the university is today.

Upstairs from the lobby, in the president’s office, Dr. Roger H. Sublett and his colleagues continue Dr. Baskin’s legacy, working on ways to move Union forward and to share Union’s unique vision with the community.

“Dr. Baskin’s efforts set wheels in motion and laid the foundation for a university now known as one of the most progressive and empowering institutions in the nation,” said Dr. Sublett. “He truly was the university’s first leader.”

Dr. Baskin graduated from Brooklyn College and New York University before accepting a position as director of educational planning and development at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Antioch was one of the 10 founding institutions of the Union for Research and Experimentation in Higher Education, (later named the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, and subsequently Union Institute & University).  While serving at Antioch, Dr. Baskin was named president of this new consortium.

In his role as president, Dr. Baskin guided the consortium in its efforts to be a leader in adult higher education. He advocated higher education for adults, and saw clearly the steps the university needed to take to be successful. He was also instrumental in the planning and development of the University without Walls program in 1971. His passion for the new program led the late New York Times education reporter, Fred Hechinger, to write that Baskin was the “driving force behind the program.

“Dr. Samuel Baskin not only made history as one of the university’s founders, he also left a rich legacy of academic research and innovation,” notes Dr. George Pruitt, a member of Union’s Board of Trustees  and 1974 Ph.D. graduate. “Union Institute & University in the 21st century remains firmly committed to the extraordinary mission set forth by its founders.”

In 1976, Dr. Baskin stepped down from his role with the UECU and moved to Miami, where he accepted a position with Goodwin Watson Institute for Research and Development, a doctoral degree program focusing on institutional change, program development, and research in higher education.

He remained, until his death in Miami in 2002, a vital force in the development of higher education programs that make positive, lasting change in the lives of others.

A resolution issued in July 2002 by the UI&U Board of Trustees pays tribute to Dr. Baskin: “Nearly 40 years ago, the great teachers and courageous minds who founded this university chose Dr. Samuel Baskin to lead the national consortium in exploring ways to broaden and expand American higher education. Under Dr. Baskin’s leadership, this historic consortium challenged the structures of traditional higher education and dared to devise exemplary alternative paths to learning”.