The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, The second best time is today.
– Chinese proverb
Volume 75 | Issue 3
May 2007

2007 Annual Conference Review

This year 1,149 ACUI delegates formed “A Common Bond” in Atlanta, including five guests, 10 honorary members and veterans, 16 spouse/partner/family guests, 26 graduate students, 95 undergraduates, and 232 corporate representatives. The ACUI Expo included 103 exhibits, and corporate sponsors contributed $69,500. For the first time, ACUI offered Community and regional dinners as part of the online registration process; 174 registered for the Community dinners and 684 for regional dinners, comprising an impressive 60 percent of conference delegates.

Three keynotes and 106 educational sessions were offered, and 72 people participated in the Senior Management Professionals Program and 35 in the preconference program for professionals of color. Additionally, this year there were an impressive number of first-time attendees, with 272.

To help kick off the annual conference, David Coleman gave the first keynote address. Speaking about being remarkable in all areas—life, love, work, and within, Coleman combined anecdotes and advice to deliver a motivational speech.

Coleman, known as “The Dating Doctor” and “America’s Real-Life Hitch,” is an entertainer, emcee, author, leadership trainer, retreat facilitator, and radio and television personality.

Coleman began his speech by explaining the difference between being ordinary and remarkable: “Ordinary is someone or something performing exactly as intended; nothing unique or unexpected; just simple, base, bare minimum standards that often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Something remarkable can be accomplished when a common task is performed uncommonly well.”

Colman added that there are times every day that a person can choose to be remarkable rather than ordinary.

Be remarkable in life.

Coleman gave his audience simple tips to being remarkable in life. It all begins with a hand shake. “Shake hands like you mean it,” Colman said. “I’m on a crusade to teach people how to shake hands. You make a nice, firm ‘L’ with your hand and squeeze once while smiling, looking directly into their eyes, and say ‘Hi, it is so nice to meet you.’” Coleman’s two other points were to “know that assumptions and expectations can be quite misleading” and “to be a true friend,” he said.
Be remarkable in love.

Giving five minutes of “hitch-ness,” Coleman offered some advice on being remarkable in love. Before love can happen, people must be willing to meet other people. “To meet others, you have to be a fat penguin,” Coleman said. He was not referring to physical features, but rather an attitude; fat penguins break the ice, just like someone must do in a conversation.

Along with “signs to knowing if someone is interested in you,” Coleman gave a simple romance tip that really connected with the audience. “Romance is performing an ordinary act of love or kindness at an unexpected time,” Coleman said. “So, instead of waiting until Feb. 14 to give your loved one their gift, give it to them on the 13th with note that says: ‘No one as special as you should have to wait another day.’”

In addition to the romance advice, Coleman added an acronym for a healthy relationship: “TRIPC,” he said. “Truth, Respect, Intimacy, Passion, Commitment.”

Be remarkable at work.

Coleman explained that part of being remarkable at work is being a leader, and true leadership can only occur when, by their own actions, one inspires others to be motivated and driven. “Leadership is recognizing what you need to do and then doing it. Being a model of execution and efficiency while displaying a winning attitude that is contagious, and inspiring people to achieve things they weren’t sure they were capable of accomplishing,” Coleman said.

He continued by giving four tips on how to be remarkable at work:

  1. Don’t talk a game that you’re not prepared to back up with action.
  2. Develop meaningful relationships outside of your comfort zone.
  3. Never, ever gossip. This will only lead to problems.
  4. Focus on what you can control—what you think, what you say, and what you do.

Be remarkable within.

To Coleman, the main component of being remarkable within is learning how to not whine; that is, learning how to live life through the challenges and struggles. Coleman ended his keynote session with an inspirational slideshow as “Maybe Tomorrow” by Stereophonics played.
“Maybe tomorrow…,” it read, “when we take a long, hard look in the mirror, we’ll be proud of who we see. We’ll avoid the trap of indifference and share a common bond. We have an important decision to make: keep living life as we have, or maybe tomorrow make the difference we know can make.”

The slideshow went on for the length of the song, suggesting that: “Maybe tomorrow, we’ll bring a smile to someone’s face” and “Maybe tomorrow, we’ll answer the important questions” among other motivational thoughts, and finally ended by saying: “Remarkable people aren’t born, they’re made.”

Frances Lucas: What a president wants

With several years of experience in college administration roles, Millsaps College President Frances Lucas delivered a keynote address on seven things that presidents want from student affairs and union professionals.

1 “We want you to be happy.”
According to Lucas, college presidents want to hire happy employees. “When I interview, I look for happy people,” she said. Over the years, Lucas has learned that people can be taught many skills, but no one can make others be happy. “We want professionals out there working on our campuses who are happy, positive people,” Lucas said. “People who are happy are the most creative.”

2 “We want happy, engaged, learning students.”
Lucas wants student affairs professionals to create a positive environment for students to learn. “Think like teachers. You are teachers. And your curriculum in student affairs is really important,” Lucas said.

To do this, she suggests using positive statements when students make a mistake and praise students when they do well. “It unnerves me when people spend too much time on rules,” Lucas said. “What we need to focus on is the great behaviors and what it means to have a happy community.”

3 “We want you to know what students want and need.”
University presidents, as Lucas explains, do not always have time to keep up with what students need or want from the college union or student activities. Therefore, presidents expect student affairs professionals to know the answer to this particular question. “We expect you to have the answer when we ask what would make the perfect student union,” Lucas said. “We may not be able to afford everything, but we want to know what we should do if we get money.”

“We want you to play well with others.”
Relationship skills are crucial to the student affairs profession. “Most of you have great relationship skills. Most of you can get along with anybody, or you wouldn’t be in student affairs,” Lucas said.

Lucas recommends building partnerships throughout the campus; “If you want something, make friends, create collations,” she said. “Gain power by connecting.” And most importantly, “Remember that nobody wins a fight,” Lucas said. “The best way to win a fight is to avoid the argument.”
Another point that Lucas made was to learn how to forgive others.

5 “We want you to become problem solvers not problem identifiers.”
While some may consider those who can identify a problem “intellectuals,” Lucas disagrees. “The people who are intellectuals think about paradigms,” she said. College presidents want professionals who spend more time finding solutions to the problems and not just identifying what problems may exist.

6 “We want a balanced budget.”
While it is obvious that all colleges desire a balanced budget, Lucas explains that presidents want professionals who can help with this. “No one has a situation where money isn’t tight, and what presidents want is for you to find ways to generate revenue or make an incredible investment,” Lucas said.  She emphasizes that college presidents want everyone to think of ways to balance the budget and share resources.

7 “We want you to like us and help connect us to students.”
Presidents want to be able to connect with students. Since this may not be easy between traveling to conferences, attending meetings, and constantly speaking at on-campus events, college presidents need student affairs professionals to be supportive. “Help us to get to know the students that we really need to know,” Lucas said. “And support us sometimes. We need for you to be able to explain us to them.”
Another point Lucas gave for consideration is when presidents do have the opportunity to connect with students at events, allow them to give the opening remarks. “The kindest thing you can do for us is put us at the beginning,” Lucas said.

Vernon A. Wall: Understanding social justice

Speaking about social justice, Vernon A. Wall invited the audience to think about inclusion issues on their campuses. According to Wall, inclusion has transformed itself since it first came into the national conscious.

“It all started in the late ’70s and early ’80s with discussions on diversity,” Wall said. “At this point, it was numbers. People were talking about ‘How many do we have?’ and ‘How many more we can get?’”

Then, the topic turned to multiculturalism. “People started talking about how we can get to know them, what will make things better for them,” Wall said. “But it was always about them.”

Now, society has moved toward social justice and the thought, “How can everyone be and feel included?” Wall, who is excited about social justice efforts on college campuses, shared with the audience a few keys to understanding social justice.

Individual identity and group membership

Individual identity is who each of us is; group membership is how a person may be perceived. “We see each other on the group level first, and then when we get to know one another [and] we see the individual,” Wall said. The first time a person walks into a room, the others will see that person as belonging to a group—whether an ethnicity, religion, or outward characteristics—and make judgments about the person based on their group membership. However, once interaction takes places, others will begin to see the person on the level of individual identity.

Dominant and subordinate groups

Everyone belongs to both dominant and subordinate groups. According to Wall, the key to social justice is to “know how we feel when we are marginalized and realize that there are times when we are rewarded for belonging to a certain group.”

Equal is not necessarily equitable

Although it may seem that all are being treated equal, all the details must be given attention to make sure that everyone is equitable. To explain, Wall shared this message: “Equal is that everybody in this room gets a pair of shoes; equitable is that everyone in the room gets a pair of shoes that fits.”

Intent vs. impact

Individuals can cause harm even when their intent is good or benign; the resulting impact depends on the perspective of individuals. “From our dominant space, we always say that we don’t intend to do something,” Wall said. “But from our subordinate place, we always feel impact. We should hold both at the same time.”

We are born bias-free

A child truly does not judge the people they encounter; but as a child grows, they will develop fears and biases against others, Wall said. Social justice means being bias-free. “Children want to meet everyone. But we lose this as we grow. It has to do with fear, and we have to step through that fear,” Wall said.

After explaining the meaning of social justice, Wall gave the audience five ideas to ponder when returning to their campuses. “My goal is to get you thinking who you are and your role on campus,” Wall said.

1 We must recognize that the learning curve on issues of social justice and inclusion does not end after a college degree is attained.

Social justice, diversity, and inclusion are all topics that must be discussed on campuses every year. “We do fire safety so that we can be safe. We talk about diversity and inclusion so that we can be more comfortable with it,” Wall said. Just as fire safety training cannot be done only once as though checked off a list, social justice training efforts must be ongoing, Wall said.

2 We must work to increase our understanding of gender identity and multiracial/biracial issues.

On campuses today, “the lines are blurred on gender identity and race,” Wall said. Therefore, colleges and universities must embrace change and begin to understand the new issues brought to campus.

3 We must not be afraid to entertain the possibility that identity and culture impact all that we do.

“Always entertain the fact that with anything we do, culture and identity is a part of it. Embrace it. Be a part of the dialogue. It is in the room,” Wall said.

4 Conversations regarding spirituality and social justice are not mutually exclusive from each other.

Wall said: “There is a tendency to believe that we cannot have conversations about spirituality. The reality is that if someone wants to have a conversation about it, that is part of who they are. And if I deny them that, I am denying a part of who they are. It is about listening and engaging in conversation.”

5 We must work to see the work through the lens of social justice.

Each person has many different identities, and to understand social justice, a person must understand themselves in each of these roles. “Focusing, noticing, examining, and getting to know who we are through all our identities,” Wall said.

Volunteers think strategically about community building and diversity

Two “think tanks” of ACUI members volunteered to meet during the majority of the conference. One think tank aimed to craft strategies so that ACUI will “be recognized as the leading expert and vital resource of information and new models for successful campus community building.” The other think tank was charged with developing a plan to help ACUI realize its strategic plan goal of being “a model and advocate for improving the diversity of the profession.”

What follows are the outcomes of the think tanks’ work during the conference. The Board of Trustees is in the process of prioritizing and evaluating the feasibility of these initiatives in terms of the Association’s resources of time and funding. The think tank volunteers also welcome feedback on their work plans, and several will continue working in these areas on behalf of the Association. Any comments or suggestions can be directed to acui@acui.org.

Community Building Think Tank

Participants: Rob Rouzer, University of Illinois–Chicago (chair); Christina M. Coop, University of Washington; Lynda Matusek, University of Kentucky; Ryan O’Connell, Florida State University; Jamie Singson, University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign

Findings: Building off of the work of Sue Maul, Ed Slazinik, and others have done on campus community building, the think tank began by discussing the meaning of communities and community building.

Communities can be found throughout our campuses. At their most basic, they may be a group of students on a residence corridor or a group that has “connected” through common interests or appearances. Our model for building community starts at this level and seeks to strengthen the bonds of these groups of individuals who share a common purpose through relationships built on solid communication between group members. At a more complex level, we view the campus, to borrow from George Kuh and Elizabeth Whitt, as an invisible tapestry of groups that have not only their own individuality, but also myriad interconnections of purposes and members. We have attempted to show this graphically. The larger, campus-wide community is created at the intersection of individual groups and through the groupings of intersected groups that is shown graphically as multiple layers.

The glue that holds this complex structure together is the degree to which each individual is engaged with each of these communities. Students who are engaged—who feel that they have a sense of ownership—that they matter, strengthen the communities that they join. We believe the most successful students are those who have become engaged in most, if not all of the communities of which they are participants. Furthermore, the more students that achieve this degree of engagement, the stronger the campus sense of community is likely to be.

This representation is greatly simplified. In fact, there may be large numbers of sub-groups within a given “layer” each with varying degrees of connection to other groups or, in some cases, no connections at all. Chaos theory may be an appropriate model to help understand the every changing dynamic between individuals and subcommunities. Stages of growth in community development may be found in awareness of cooperative efforts within layers and then between layers as students become stronger participants in the larger campus community. Awareness of and participation in the global community is our ultimate goal.

Power within a community layer is rarely evenly distributed. Part of our challenge as professionals is to help groups understand that power can grow as it is shared. Conflicts provide teachable moments for our community building endeavors and principles of social justice provide guidance in our efforts.


Strategy 1: Value multiple viewpoints of community building by creating a clearinghouse of resources for members, which includes models, best practices, standards, and case studies.

Objective 1: Create a community building task force.

Objective 2: Create resource repository of case studies and best practices in community building from ACUI members and nonmembers as well as global organizations on different ideas of community building.

Objective 3: Foster an online network of ACUI members (professionals and students) interested in the topic and/or research to serve as a resource base to build community. Wherever possible, network members could meet at regional and annual conference events.

Objective 4: Design central research and resource Web site for the task force and resource repository.

Strategy 2: Create an internal marketing plan that emphasizes the Association as a leader in community building.

  • Objective 1: Encourage community building content through:
  • Modeling community building behavior and practices throughout the Association.
  • Conference programming (e.g., annual “State of Community Building” conference session and asking conference presenters to highlight aspects of community building, when appropriate, in application materials and presentations)
  • Regional programming
  • Webinars, drive-ins, and other educational programming

Strategy 3: Advance ACUI’s Communities so they complement the knowledge base of the Association and model the meaning of “community.”

Objective 1: While the Association has efforts in place to begin to rebuild and strengthen Communities, these action plans offered here include key concepts that can be used to demonstrate our internal commitment to community building.

Strategy 4: Encourage research and seek to share community-building ideas through publication.

Objective 1: Develop questions for the EBI assessment on community building.

Objective 2: Develop areas of research including critiques and discussion of the think tank model of community building.

Objective 3: Challenge current cognitive development theories as well as support research and discussion on how to update theories for current college students.

Objective 4: Create a literature review of publications relevant to community building.

Objective 5: Create a journal of campus community building (print, electronic).

Objective 6: Using partnerships (as outlined), gather community-building examples and potential case studies.

Objective 7: Encourage peer reviews of community building research and publications from other organizations and publications.

Strategy 5: Develop partnerships with campus entities and other organizations that advance campus community building.

Objective 1: Identify, develop, and grow partnerships with other organizations, associations, faculty, and off-campus entities in the task of community building.

Objective 2: Request input from global organizations on different ideas of community building.

Objective 3: Encourage study abroad, staff exchanges, and international programs to enhance understanding of global community. Value individuals’ experiences upon return and utilize them as resources.

Objective 4: Explore development opportunities that target community building.

Objective 5: Seek relationships with corporations and other agencies that demonstrate high regard for community building values.

Strategy 6: Embrace technology as a means to build community. The speed of technological change somewhat defies our efforts to comprehend the impact of technology on community building.

Objective 1: Research methods of employing social networking (and other technologies as they become prevalent) as a tool for community development.

Objective 2: Establish a group of ACUI professionals interested in staying current with technology who can share information about the potential impact of emerging technologies.

Objective 3: Exploit current technologies (podcasting, text messaging, social network advertising, etc.) as communication methods to engage students with community-building activities, understanding that interpersonal, face-to-face contact provides the strongest community support.

Diversity Think Tank

Participants: Daniel M. Maxwell, Indiana University-Purdue University–Indianapolis (chair); Victoria Angis, Castleton State College; Regina Howell, SUNY–Downstate Medical Center; Rene Singleton, University of Washington.

Findings: The goal as stated is solid, transparent in nature, and on target for a 21st century knowledge-based higher education association. The issue of diversity is complex and will need the constant and consistent attention of the ACUI leadership over the next two to three years and beyond.

Recommendations: We celebrate ACUI’s commitment to diversity and its historical achievements that serve as a foundation for this think tank. We have used existing resources as a springboard for our recommendations. For purposes of this assignment we have defined diversity to include ability, age, class, gender, geography, institutional demographics, race, religion, and sexual orientation.

To achieve these goals we recommend a multilevel approach, which proceeds along a natural continuum from the undergraduate student to the seasoned professional in our association. The following strategies and objectives highlight this multilevel approach and recognize that the seeds of diversity within our profession begin with students.

The following is the original goal and revised strategies:

Goal: ACUI will be a model and advocate for improving the diversity of the profession.

Strategy 1: Assess and strengthen the Association’s “Commitment to and Vision for a Multicultural Organization.”

Objective 1: Reaffirm the 1993 statement and ensure it reflects a commitment for the 21st century.

Objective 2: Operationalize the Association’s core competencies
and ensure a commitment to diversity is reflected through all 11 core competencies.

Objective 3: Operationalize the Association’s “Commitment to and Vision for a Multicultural Organization” through the existing structures in the Association including Communities, Educational Councils, Program Teams and regions.

Objective 4: Identify existing programs and services that support the Association’s “Commitment to and Vision for a Multicultural Organization,” and identify any barriers that prevent members from pursuing their affiliation in a manner consistent with their own experience.

Objective 5: Celebrate and acknowledge our success in support of the Association’s “Commitment to and Vision for a Multicultural Organization” in our historical milestones as an association.

Objective 6: Stay current with public policy and trends that affect the Association’s diversity efforts.

Strategy 2: Assess, identify and implement models and best practices for mentoring programs for students and professionals.

Objective 1: Assess and identify internal and external models and best practices for mentoring programs for students and professionals.

Objective 2: Provide resources and support to develop mentoring skills.   

Objective 3: Operationalize mentoring programs through existing Association structures including Communities, Education Councils, program teams, and regions.

Objective 4: Establish an internship/practicum program for students that supports the Association’s core competency of intercultural proficiency and is grounded in the Associations’s “Commitment to and Vision for a Multicultural Organization.”
Objective 5: Annually evaluate and assess mentoring programs, best practices, and resources. (July 2009)

Strategy 3: Create and implement plans for recruitment and retention of students and professionals.

Objective 1: Develop and implement a membership assessment tool to determine individual members’ entry and retention trends.

Objective 2: Identify the benefits of a professional higher education association committed to diversity.

Objective 3: Develop recruitment and retention programs to be implemented at the institution, state, and regional levels.

Objective 4: Establish and nurture relationships with higher education partners to include, but not limited to: higher education graduate programs, career development and services, institutions with underrepresented populations, and individual ACUI members.

Objective 5: Provide resources and support to develop recruitment and retention programs and efforts.
Objective 6: Identify staff/volunteer responsible for recruitment, retention, and mentoring programs.

Ways that college union and student activities programs can promote community and community building

This list is an updated version of the list started by Susan Maul and revised by Ed Slazinik during their appointments as members of the ACUI Board of Trustees studying community building.

  1. Develop or revise the current mission statement for the college union or student activities program in such a way to make  specific reference to community building.  The organization should live and act according to the mission statement and in particular the statement’s references to community.
  2. During major campus celebrations and events (convocation, homecoming, new student orientation, family weekend, etc.) make sure the union plays a host role and offers programs that will be popular and focus on the community building mission. Reinforce the institution’s values that reflect pluralism and inclusiveness. Celebrate values and holidays of all cultures.
  3. Recognize campus leaders who enhance the quality of campus life by promoting community.
  4. Discuss, assess, and evaluate community at a campus-wide level, and then decide what actions need to be taken to promote community.
  5. Look at current human resource methods and revise them with the goal of increasing workforce diversity.
  6. Articulate what the college union and student activities program does to build community. Launch an effective advertising campaign that tells the story of the union role in community building.
  7. Develop ongoing programs and activities that intentionally bring together diverse groups of people and focus on community building as an outcome of those programs.  Use assessment to assure that the programs are meeting their objectives.
  8. Include information about and further the principles of community building in employee training and orientation.
  9. Cosponsor events with other organizations that value community and inclusivity.
  10. Play host to events for new faculty and staff and encourage them to become part of the community. Involve faculty/staff family and students whenever appropriate.
  11. Pay attention to the community’s demographics and use that information in planning events and services.
  12. Conduct strategic planning exercises that specifically focus on the mission of community building to assess where the college union and student activities programs’ strengths and weaknesses lie, and determine what you should be doing to meet the goals of community building.
  13. Develop interior and exterior building signage that promotes the union’s role in community building. For example, use multiple languages to welcome visitors to the building’s information or welcome center.
  14. Work to maintain the individuality of subgroups. Homogeneity does not necessarily support strong communities.
  15. Do not underestimate the power of small personal gestures in fostering community.  Write thank-you notes; offer support to individuals or organizations in need; compliment someone who has made the campus a better place.
  16. Let people know they matter. Respect them. Learn people’s names and how to pronounce them.
  17. Train staff members to make strong connections with the people that they serve and reward them accordingly.
  18. Celebrate community through holiday parties, employee cook-outs, potluck dinners, and other rituals evocative of extended families.
  19. Behave humanistically. Interact face to face whenever possible. Maintain standards of cordiality, even in  electronic communication.
  20. Create interactive environments (central dining areas, lounges spaces, student organization interaction areas). 
  21. Know your constituents. Develop profiles for each subgroup on and off campus.  Define for each constituency the value of community. Tell them what is in it for them. 
  22. Attend programs and events sponsored by other campus units.
  23. Provide training opportunities for staff members that can assist in the facilitation of community building exercises for groups and organizations on campus.
  24. Partner with faculty to stimulate research use of the college union and activities programs as laboratories for community building.

‘Remarkable’ Colette Berge honored with Butts-Whiting Award

At the closing banquet, past president Whit Hollis presented the 2007 Butts-Whiting Award to Colette Berge, the director of campus and life and dean of students at Pikes Peak Community College. Berge was the first woman from a two-year college to be honored with the award. 

“[Colette’s] colleagues have articulated [her] passion for serving students, and one nominator refers to [her] efforts as a legacy,” Hollis said.

“[Colette] has integrity and stature, and those that know [her] will take pride and be inspired by this recognition.”

The Butts-Whiting Award is the highest honor the Association gives, and its recipient remains a secret until the award presentation during the closing banquet. The Butts-Whiting Award, named after union legends Porter Butts and Edgar Whiting, recognizes the outstanding leaders in ACUI who have made significant contributions in college unions and student activities.

In his speech, Hollis described Berge as “remarkable,” citing different ways that she has assisted individuals, her campus, and the Association by being a volunteer, mentor, professional, community builder, advocate, risk-taker, and an overall “remarkable” person.  

“I have read Whit’s speech a couple of times since receiving the award, and each time it brings tears to my eyes,” Berge said. “I am so moved by what nominators (those fabulous sneaky folks) cited. It is just now coming out who all was involved in this process, and I am overwhelmed by it all.”

As a volunteer, Berge has served the Association in many different capacities over the past 25 years. She has served as ACUI president from 2000–01 and an at-large member on the Board of Trustees, was a member of the Two-Year Colleges Committee, and was co-chair of the 1998 Region 13 conference. Previously she served as the ACUI affirmative action officer, was on two nominations committees, and chaired the Committee on Outdoor Programs. Additionally, during the past 25 years, she has presented at numerous regional and annual conferences.
Her dedication to the Association is also demonstrated in her passion for the profession, Hollis said, citing her nominators.

“One person wrote: ‘[Colette] has helped many people learn to love the college union and student activities profession, as [she] does. [Her] passion for service and enthusiasm for life are undeniable. [Colette has] unselfishly served the college union field both at the institutions where [she has] worked and with the Association. [Colette is] a role model to us all, and incredibly deserving of this honor,’” Hollis said.

Berge has brought much to Pikes Peak campus. Seeing a need for affordable child care on campus, Berge spearheaded the movement to gain funding and support for a facility that assists many college students who may not be able to balance parenting and education otherwise.
And Berge has made her impact on ACUI by opening the eyes of the Association and helping to “redefine the box.”

“When LGBT members routinely lost their family and friends because of their sexual orientation, [Colette’s] risk taking, along with several others, helped our Association and us grow as professionals, and their risk taking helped many of us find a safe place to be professionals,” Hollis said.
Berge said she was both humbled to be receiving the award and honored.

“What amazing company to be amongst!” Berge said. “All that I have done with or for ACUI has been out of joy and a desire to give back. I surely had no expectation of any honors as a result of this work. As I think I mumbled that night, ‘ACUI is my family of choice.’

“My hope and wish for all students, grad students, and young professionals is that they find a home and a family in this Association, one that welcomes and loves them, allows them to feel safe and valued.  I am proud and honored to be considered a part of the process that ACUI went through to open the door for our communities.”

Mindrum finds State of the Association to be much improved

During the Annual Business Meeting, then-ACUI President Bob Mindrum presented a “State of the Association” address. While acknowledging challenges facing the Association, most of what Mindrum shared was good news, with considerable improvements from just a few years ago.


Mindrum said ACUI’s financial health is the strongest “it has ever been.” The 2006 audit will be finalized in a few months, but all projections are favorable that “ACUI will finish the year with general reserves in excess of $200,000,” Mindrum said. “This is nearly 20 percent of our long-term goal of a six-month operating reserve. Each of the last three years, we have exceeded the goal of a minimum 5 percent reserve contribution. In addition, we anticipate completing the payoff of the ACUI Procure start-up costs by 2009, three years ahead of schedule.” Mindrum said this was largely due to corporate partnerships, along with income from the annual conference and membership.

Additionally, the Board of Trustees Finance Committee has developed a model for a five-year financial plan that ACUI can use, along with its annual budgeting process, to support initiatives outlined in the strategic plan.


Mindrum also spoke about membership. As of mid-March, the ACUI is “on track,” with 611 institutions renewing their memberships for 2007, “including 12 new member institutions,” Mindrum said. “We can expect another 100 institutions to renew throughout the coming months.”

To increase the renewal of memberships, this year, ACUI sent out reminders earlier than in previous years. “In the past we’ve provided an unpublicized grace period for members to renew between January and May, which has obvious associated costs,” Mindrum said. This year’s grace period lasted only until March 1. “Although ACUI membership is on a calendar year cycle, we aim to send out renewal notices even earlier this year with the hope that institutions can pay for 2008 membership at the beginning of their budget year,” Mindrum said. 

ACUI has “investigated new marketing strategies” to increase membership, Mindrum said. Among these were “a telemarketing campaign to attract nonmember institutions in October 2006 and an online value survey for those institutions that have not yet renewed for 2007,” Mindrum said.
Mindrum also thanked volunteers for their “continuous efforts to contact their colleagues on nonmember campuses about joining or renewing membership in ACUI.”

Programs and services

ACUI programs and services have had “several highlights” from the past year, Mindrum said. “In 2006, ACUI produced eight in-person seminars, workshops, and institutes, representing a total of 304 combined registrations. ACUI and [National Association of College Auxiliary Services] developed a strategic partnership for the marketing seminar which increased the quality of the program and helped to maximize net revenue to both associations.” Also, ACUI created the first Women’s Leadership Institute, “and although the new program operated at a loss, the program evaluations indicated that the pedagogical model used was impressive,” Mindrum said.

Another new item, “ACUI developed a Best of Conference webinar series, with three institutions purchasing the discounted rate for the entire series and 26 total registrations,” Mindrum said.

With 406 students on 39 different teams participating, “ACUI produced five national student tournaments, [including] College Bowl, Poetry Slam, 9-Ball, table tennis, and clay targets,” Mindrum said.

Two other points that Mindrum made were that: “Since the Kansas City conference, ACUI has helped two institutions critically examine their college union and student activities program through our formal evaluation process,” and “ACUI has positioned itself as a strategic partner with the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education in offering educational events and potential competitions for members of both associations.”


“51 facts about college unions” was the big news from the publications department. “ACUI had for decades sold a pamphlet called ‘50 facts about college unions,’” Mindrum said. “At some point, this was consolidated into the brochure ‘What is a college union?’”

Over the past year, ACUI worked on updating the brochure, rewriting the content and redesigning “it into the full-color, 64-page booklet ’51 facts about college unions,’” Mindrum said. Along with a sample of the brochure, ACUI sent a handout to union professional with 51 ways to use “51 facts about college unions.” “And I am very pleased to report that to date, 9,212 copies of this very popular publication have been sold” as of March, Mindrum said.

Corporate partnerships

As of the end of 2006, “92 companies held membership in ACUI, and 12 of those companies placed a total of 51 ads in The Bulletin during the year,” Mindrum said. The Bulletin’s advertising revenue was $63,369 in 2006, which was an increase of 32.8 percent over 2005.
The 2007 Facility Design Awards had “16 entries by 12 architectural firms, and 10 companies provided $69,500 in sponsorship for the 2007 annual conference,” Mindrum said. He added that a record-breaking 83 companies were represented throughout the 103 ACUI Expo booths at the conference.

ACUI Procure was consistent at close to $2 million in sales for 2006, “very similar to sales volume in 2005,” Mindrum said. “Since its inception in 2000, ACUI Procure total cumulative sales volume has been more than $11.3 million, on which more than $134,000 in rebates was earned for institutional members.” For 2006, “147 institutions earned a total of $19,859.18 in rebates,” with the largest rebate of $3,085 going to California State University–East Bay as “a result of a major FF&E order for a new building project,” Mindrum said.

ACUI continued to pursue strategic partnerships in 2006 as a way to “maximize our knowledge base while minimizing costs for members,” Mindrum said. As a result of these partnerships, ACUI “provided the Learning Reconsidered 2 publication in conjunction with six other student affairs associations; revised the Campus Activities Standard for the Council for the Advancement of Standards in partnership with the National Association of Campus Activities; participated with 13 other associations in the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium; and joined five other associations in the Higher Education Climate Action Project,” Mindrum said.

Also, ACUI, in conjunction with NASPA, ACPA, and ACUHO-I, will facilitate an International Study Tour to South Africa in June and “continues its work with the Consortium on Government Relations for Student Affairs,” Mindrum said.


The new Governance Committee “has a new focus on recruiting, orienting, training, retaining, and providing ongoing professional development to Board members” enabling them to “better understand the strategic nature of their volunteer role versus the more operational role that they generally play on their home campuses,” Mindrum said.

Also, according to Mindrum, the Strategic Directions Committee’s liaison role between the trustees and the Association will keep the trustees informed about grass-root level activities, ensure that volunteer efforts are aligned with strategic goals, and help the board understand what challenges and opportunities volunteers face when doing the work of the Association.

“Perhaps the most exciting development for me personally is the emergence of action plans by the component groups in support of our strategic plan,” Mindrum said. “It has real potential to harness volunteer energy and creativity at the grass-root level, and to leverage those assets in a way that reaps significant rewards for the Association, its members and for the volunteers themselves.”

Overall, Mindrum acknowledged that the Association faces significant challenges, but believes that “both now and in the future, we are well positioned to meet those challenges, and to continue to fulfill our core purpose of advancing community building on our campuses.”

Community Builders Awards Ceremony

With the theme for the 2007 annual conference being “A Common Bond,” it was appropriate to kick off the fifth annual Community Builders Awards ceremony with a James Bond theme.

ACUI President “Mindrum, Bob Mindrum” emceed the awards ceremony with his “license to thrill,” introducing the presenters—a pair consisting of one long-time ACUI volunteer and one “rising star” nominated by their regional director—throughout the evening and reminding us of our common bond.

“We also share another ‘common bond,’ and that’s our love of our Association, and the rewards we get from working together as volunteers while doing the business of ACUI.  There’s no doubt that you have ‘bonded’ with someone here as a result of working on a project, a regional conference, or a workshop or seminar,” Mindrum said.

Richard D. Blackburn New Professional Award

The evening’s first award was the Richard D. Blackburn New Professional Award presented by Debra Hammond, California State University–Northridge, and rising star Andrew Smriga, Fort Hays State University.

Blackburn served as union director for Colorado College, Kansas State University, and Indiana University before serving as the executive director for the Association from 1982–91. He was also an avid volunteer for ACUI; thus, the Richard D. Blackburn New Professional Award is given to someone who is not only dedicated to his or her campus, but also to doing volunteer work for their region and the Association.

Blackburn’s daughter, Janette, attended the conference, speaking about her father’s service to the profession and role as an ideologue for community building. Audience members got a sense of his devotion to the role of the college union as she discussed his life—from his upbringing to his death, which she said came too soon. Janette presented the Richard D. Blackburn New Professional Award to Tari Hunter, Indiana University–Bloomington. 

Emeritus Award

Mandy Ellertson, Portland Community College, and rising star Brandi Smith, Cornell University, presented the Emeritus Award. The nominees for this award are college union and student activities professionals who have worked in the field for at least 10 years and are planning to retire during the upcoming academic year.

This year, ACUI Emeritus Awards were given to four recipients: Vicky Fete, University of Akron; Cassandra Gassaway, University of Illinois–Chicago; Ed Stansell, Emory University; and Kaycee Schilke, University of Montana.

Earl Whitfield Regional Newsletter Award

Presented by Clarresa Morton, Shenandoah University, and Mary Branton-Housley, Colorado State University, the Earl Whitfield Regional Newsletter Award recognizes the volunteers who work to create methods of communication for their region. Earl Whitfield was not only the director of college union and student activities at California State University–Fresno, but also an avid Association volunteer, spending much of his time and energy focused on the success of the regions. This year’s award went to Region 7 and editors Amy Brown, University of Cincinnati, and Dan Stanowick, Bluffton University.

Revis A. Cox Memorial Award

Revis A. Cox was an outstanding ACUI volunteer who dedicated much effort to the Committee of Multi-Ethnic Programs, which was instrumental in moving the Association forward in the areas of diversity and community building. This award was created in his honor to recognize someone in the Association today who shows commitment and creativity in the area of diversity. The award, presented by Donnachadh O’Haodha, University of Cork, and rising star Howie Gunston, Stonybrook University, went to Holly Sateia, Dartmouth College.

Gretchen Laatsch Scholarship

The Gretchen Laatsch Scholarship was appropriately presented by Gretchen Laatsch, University of Akron, and her husband, Jim Switzer. Endowed by Laastach and Switzer, the scholarship supports graduate students who intend to enter the profession of college unions or student activities. The 2007 Gretchen Laatsch Scholarship was given to Erin Miller, University of Vermont.

Honorary Lifetime Membership

The evening’s final awards were presented by Leslie Davis, California State University–Sacramento; Whit Hollis, University of Utah; and Jason Meier, Louisiana State University, on behalf of the Board of Trustees. Honorary members are those individuals who have done exceptional service for the Association. This year, three people were honored with lifetime memberships: William “Bill” Smith, Wichita State University; Shirley Plakidas, Louisiana State University; and Joe Benedict, City University of New York–Brooklyn College.

Facility Design Awards

As a leader in providing resources about campus building design, ACUI has the Facility Design Awards. This year, Colette Berge, Pikes Peak Community College, and rising star Jeff Pelletier, The Ohio State University, presented the Facility Design Awards to four architect firms and college unions for outstanding collaboration and design. Winners were Perkins+Will, University Student Union, South Dakota State University; Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, The Kanbar Campus Center, Philadelphia University; Holzman Moss Architecture, Texas Tech Student Union Building, Texas Tech University; and Ambia, Student Union and Recreation Center, Central Washington University.

Case Study Competition

Case studies provide an effective way for students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-life situations. During the conference, students competed at the undergraduate and graduate levels. According to Switzer, “The judges were impressed with participating students’ integration of theory into their analysis, how they addressed the short and long-term solutions, and the citations that they provided for their response.”

This year’s winners of the Case Study Competition at the undergraduate level were Gaynor Bordon, Minnesota State University–Mankato; Aaron Wright, University of Oklahoma; Elizabeth Canales, University of LaVerne; and Melvin Harrison, Grambling State University. The winner from the graduate level was Rebecca Cope, University of Colorado–Colorado Springs.

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees establishes the strategic direction of the Association. Members are elected by the Association for two-year terms. This year, ACUI recognized three outgoing board members: Brandon Hall, University of North Dakota; Margaret Vos, St. Cloud State University; and Mark Day, University of California–Irvine.

Education Councils

Education Councils are the core of the knowledge-based Association and lay the foundation for primary content areas. During the ceremony, a moment was taken to recognize the three outgoing Education Council co-chairs: Auxiliary Services Co-chairperson Carolyn Farley, University of North Carolina–Wilmington; Campus Life and Program Management Co-chairperson, Darryl Holloman, University of Arkansas–Little Rock; and Facilities and Operations Co-chairperson Eve Scrogham, The Ohio State University.

Outgoing regional directors

Rob Rouzer, University of Illinois–Chicago, presented with rising star Mecca Marsh, George Mason University, to recognize the outgoing regional directors. Marsh said: “Our regions are our grassroots organizations doing the work of the Association tirelessly and without great fanfare. ACUI relies heavily on the regional structure to implement the many programs and services it offers.”
This year, ACUI honored eight regional directors: Don Phelps, Region 3, County College of Morris; Joe Gutowski, Region 7, Case Western Reserve University; Helen Wood, Region 8, Northwestern Univeristy; Don Castle, Region 9, Southern Illinois University–Carbondale; Keith Kowalka, Region 12, University of Houston; Carol Garcia, Region 13, Sheridan College; Sarah Comstock, Region 14, formerly of the University of Alaska–Fairbanks; and Bill Olmsted, Region 15, California State University–Sacramento.

Conference chairperson

The Association recognized David Barnes, James Madison University, who served as the 2007 Conference Program Team Chairperson. Presenters said he and his fellow volunteers gave immeasurable time and energy to make “A Common Bond” happen.