Gretchen Laatsch Grant and Scholarship

The Gretchen Laatsch Grant and Scholarship was established by former ACUI President Gretchen Laatsch from the University of Akron and her husband, Jim Switzer. Grant or scholarship funds of up to $1,000 are intended to encourage the involvement of graduate students in scholarly research and writing for the field of college unions and student activities. One or more awards will be given to recognize and support activities such as: 

  • Conducting a Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation research study in the field of college unions and student activities.
  • Fulfilling practicum credit requirements in a graduate program by completing research, data analysis, and/or writing project(s) in collaboration with ACUI. 
  • Advancing the ACUI Research Agenda through a collaborative research project between graduate student(s), practitioner(s), and/or faculty member(s). 
  • Submitting publication-ready articles submitted written by graduate student(s) that contribute to the knowledge base of college unions and student activities.


  • At least one individual involved with the activity must be recognized by an ACUI member institution as a student in pursuit of a graduate degree in any academic area.
  • Students may apply annually but may only receive the award one time. They may submit more than one project for consideration; however, a complete application packet must be submitted for each.


  • All writing and research must be the original work of the applicant(s) and must focus on a priority issue of relevance to the field of college unions and student activities.
  • The results of the recipient(s)’ work must be distributed through at least one research-focused article, educational session, or other ACUI resource within 18 months of receiving the award. 
  • Special consideration will be given to students either currently in the field of college unions and student activities or those intending to enter the profession.

Nomination information

Applicants must submit the following materials:

  • Name(s), title(s), institution(s), and contact information of the applicants
  • Letter of application to address the following (in 2,000 words or less):
    • A description of the activity to be supported or recognized by the award, including relevant literature and/or research design if appropriate;
    • The intended outcomes of the proposed activity and their significance to the field of college union and student activities and the ACUI Research Agenda;
    • The anticipated timeline and budget for the proposed activity;
    • Evidence that at least one individual involved with the activity is a student in pursuit of a graduate degree.
  • A letter of recommendation from a professional or faculty member that supports the selection of the student applicant. 

Nominations will be accepted until Dec. 2 for this award, which will be presented at the 2017 annual conference in Philadelphia.

Nominate – Purple

Previous RecipientsJessica Ashton

2016 recipient:
Jessica Ashton, Indiana University–Bloomington, who wrote an essay highlighting the importance of self-reflection and developed a personal philosophy of social justice to be able to support students in their learning and development.
2014 recipient: Victoria Culver, Indiana University–Bloomington
2013 recipient: Alicia Fitzgerald, University of Missouri–Columbia
2012 recipient: Angel Flowers, Ohio University
2011 recipient: Christina Reddick, Florida International University


Applications will be collected twice annually, in May and December. A panel of judges, to include practicing student affairs professionals and preparation program faculty, will conduct a blind review of submissions and determine recipient(s) based on: 

  • Writing quality and ability to clearly articulate intended outcomes of the proposed activity
  • Significance and relevance of the proposed activity to the profession and the ACUI Research Agenda
  • Feasibility of the proposed timeline and budget
  • Ability to meet the defined eligibility and criteria requirements

It is the goal that at least one recipient will be chosen per year, but multiple awards may be given depending on quality of submissions at each deadline and funds available. The selection committee has the option to distribute funds up to the $1,000 amount or to choose not to distribute the award at all. The decision of the judges will be final.The recipient(s) will be given one physical award and will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference.

Gretchen LaatschAbout Gretchen Laatsch

Gretchen Laatsch's professional career begin as a graduate assistant with the Indiana Memorial Union at Indiana University. After receiving her master's at IU, she worked at the University of Georgia, then the University of South Carolina as the program adviser and then as program director. All of her time in programming, Gretchen had graduate student staff and truly loved working with entry level folks. The last 19 years of her career were spent at the University of Akron as associate director in the Gardner Student Center, with an emphasis on operational policies, regulations, conferences, and special events. Never far from working with students, she advised a number of student organizations and assumed programming responsibilities during her final five years. 

After serving as multiple terms as a regional representative, Gretchen became the ACUI vice president for regional affairs and was then elected to serve as ACUI president in 1994–95. Gretchen retired in 1998, when she also received the Butts-Whiting Award, the association's highest award. 

Updated Sept. 15, 2016