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Alumni Outreach Nets Surprising Results

BARRYTOWN, NY – Over the past several months the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) has put into place an outreach program to its alumni with the goal to reconnect with graduates, while also promoting its fundraising efforts to help increase the annual fund contributions through the 40/40 Campaign.  The yearlong 40/40 Campaign was officially launched on September 20, 2015 and celebrated the 40 years since the founding of UTS with donors pledging $40 for 40 months.

While the fundraising results have been mixed, a surprising number of respondents have expressed their appreciation for the effort that the UTS Alumni Relations office has shown in contacting them and the interest in their situation, both on personal and familial levels.

Although many alumni are busy working, raising families and helping in their communities – and have been out of touch with fellow classmates and UTS – nearly everyone has spoken of the memories, and the friendships they developed while here at the seminary. Some have been able to give support through a donation to UTS, monthly or in a lump sum; others express their appreciation simply with words of love and gratitude for what they received at UTS, as students.

One particular student, my fellow classmate, Gregg Jones (UTS‘92), found a unique way of expressing his appreciation: he donated a Smartboard to be set up at the 4W43 New York Extension Center which will be used by UTS professors in their lectures and presentations. Gregg also informed Dr. Kathy Winings, Vice-President for Academic Affairs at UTS, that he would be willing to help set it up and offer training in how to use the board.

For the unversed, Gregg explained the value of a Smartboard in a classroom setting as opposed to a traditional whiteboard.

“It’s an integrated system,” said Gregg, “so, unlike a whiteboard where anything you put on it is going to be erased, anything you put on a Smartboard is saved to your computer; you can put any kind of document, like a Word document, and download it on the Smartboard screen. Say you have a worksheet and you want to fill it out as you teach, you can do that on the board and your students can do it at the same time.

“Also, any kind of video can be presented on the Smartboard through a projector; Youtube videos, any type of educational videos, PowerPoint presentations, anything you need it’s right there.”

It’s easy to see the educational value this type of tool has for both the teacher and the student, as it eliminates the re-copying by students and instead can go straight onto their computer screen.   

Although Gregg buys and sells products on Ebay, his hands (and heart) are literally in the earth as the Assistant Director of Garden Harvest Farm, a non-profit farm that collects and distributes 2,000 lbs. of food per week in the Baltimore area, Gregg’s hometown.

The food includes bread, fish, chicken, eggs and produce as well as what can be “gleaned” from the farm itself. An actual tally isn’t kept but, according to Gregg, “several hundred people receive food from us every week, all year long.” 

The group is inviting anyone to celebrate with them on Saturday, Nov. 12 in what is billed as “Garden Harvest Farm Fun and Service Day” at their farm located in the Worthington Valley in Baltimore county.

Following his graduation from the University of Maryland in December,1976, where he studied biology and botany, Gregg was then introduced to a program sponsored by the Peace Corp and spent four months in Ecuador doing work in the Andes Mountains.

Six months later Gregg joined the Unification Church; in 1989 Gregg came to UTS and graduated in 1992 with a three-year Master of Divinity degree. After a three-month stay in Russia he returned to the U.S., where he worked for three years for the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) and another three years as Vice President of the World Collegiate Association for the Study of Principles (WCARP), before returning to his hometown.

Then, from 2005-2015, Gregg taught horticulture full-time at a high school where he and his class built and maintained their own greenhouse. After funding was lost for the project, Gregg went to work at Garden Harvest.
Gregg and his wife, Kyoho, a full-time, trained physical therapist, are no strangers to UTS. As the parents of six (now adult) children, it has been part of their routine to attend the Blessed Culture and Sports Festival held every August at Barrytown.

“What I remember most (about being at UTS) is that the community was just wonderful,” said Gregg. “Also, my thesis I did for my MDiv. It was entitled Unification Thought and Business Ethics in America. It was about applying Unification Thought in the modern era, but also included Catholic theology, Judeo-Christian values, Old Testament ethics and then up to the modern era with the social gospel and the gospel of wealth. I really enjoyed doing it.”