Updates and Releases

Board Votes to Retain Name of Butts-Whiting Award

This week the ACUI Board of Trustees voted to retain the name of the Butts-Whiting Award.

This action was in response to information alleging Porter Butts’ potential connections to a student organization named the Ku Klux Klan while an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin in the early 1920s. When this information was brought to ACUI’s attention in 2017, the Board of Trustees charged a working group to recommend procedures for vetting and examining issues related to the Association’s named awards. The board approved these recommendations in March, and the working group went on to use them in reviewing concerns raised about Butts. In August, the board received the group’s report on Butts.

The working group found the following key evidence from its review of current and archival materials as well as interviews with Butts’ contemporaries:

  • As an undergraduate, Porter Butts was appointed as a member of an honorary interfraternity council called the Ku Klux Klan, which was not formally connected with the national organization of the same name nor its ideology; the group changed its name to not be confused with the national organization.
  • While Butts served as managing editor of UW’s Daily Cardinal in 1924, editorials critical of the national Ku Klux Klan appeared in the paper. It is unclear whether Butts authored these editorials, though it was assumed that he at least would have had to give some sort of approval for them to be printed.
  • During his career, Butts’ writings and actions indicate he was committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive college union.

In a statement to ACUI members, President Mike Coleman and CEO John Taylor said: “We value the time and effort the members of the working group put in to this matter, we recognize that not everyone will agree with this decision, and we look at this as an opportunity for growth. While it is difficult to completely validate what occurred in the early 1920s, the findings of the working group reveal the likelihood that Porter Butts was involved with changing the name of the organization rather than supporting its association with a national racist secret society. The board values Porter Butts’ contributions to the college union field, including his authoring of the original College Union Idea publication and Role of the College Union Statement.”

Materials gathered by the working group have been published, and an open forum is available for discussion. The Board of Trustees will host two online meetings for ACUI members who want to process this decision:

As part of their action on the working group recommendations, the board also expressed a desire to emphasize diversity and inclusion in ACUI’s 2019 budget and goals. They plan to involve the Council for Diversity and Inclusion as well as the regional inclusivity coordinators in examining how the board can best support ACUI’s diversity and inclusion strategy, which focuses on the areas of workforce, communication, education, and assessment. Additionally, the Association’s D&I Self-Assessment Working Group’s report will be delivered to the board in February 2019 with an expectation that areas for improvement will be identified through that process.

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2019 Strategic Plan

Strategic Guidepost: Research

ACUI will take a leading role in researching the impact of the college union on campus

We strive for ACUI to become the respected clearinghouse for college union and student activities research, which will assist practitioners in making informed decisions and help higher education leaders articulate the value and impact of the college union.

  • Develop and strengthen partnerships focused on research.
  • Determine how staff and component groups can best use and advance the research agenda, emphasizing the topic of inclusive communities.
  • Enhance existing and develop new structures for the Association to collect and disseminate research, especially research related to inclusive communities.
Strategic Guidepost: Data

ACUI will leverage data to enhance education and delivery of services

As more individuals expect a personalized, customized association experience, ACUI must leverage available data to inform its strategies and business decisions. We will use data intelligence to more effectively explore new markets, enhance services, recruit volunteers, define educational gaps, and create just-in-time content.


  • Determine opportunities to better personalize/customize the ACUI user experience.
  • Develop practices to make ACUI’s data gathering, analysis, and application more effective and efficient.
  • Determine how to better reach international markets amid data privacy concerns.
  • Collect and report data to better understand demographic representation.
Strategic Guidepost: Volunteer and Member Engagement

ACUI will increase the value of engagement for members and volunteers

Member and volunteer engagement are critical predictors of retention and satisfaction. We are committed to understanding members, better meeting their needs, and creating different types of engagement experiences.


  • Learn and document volunteer and member journeys through ACUI.
  • Deepen institutional commitment to ACUI.
  • Leverage structures for networking and professional development, to include communities of identity.
  • Investigate desired engagement experiences among individuals who do not hold ACUI majority identities.
  • Identify opportunities to improve equity in volunteer recruitment and selection processes.
Strategic Guidepost: Active Dialogue

ACUI will advance campus community through active dialogue

We seek, through education, tools, and resources, to position the college union to promote dialogue and understanding among people with different perspectives and to improve humanity through college students’ constructive discourse and interaction.


  • Define the value of active dialogue, in particular, about issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Define and understand the characteristics of a campus that supports active dialogue with an emphasis on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Curate existing resources and tools related to active dialogue around diversity, equity, and inclusion.