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Former ACUI President, Butts-Whiting Winner Ernie Bebb Dies

Ernest L. Beeb

ACUI past president and Butts-Whiting Award Winner Ernest “Ernie” Bebb died October 18, 2018. During his 30-year career, Bebb was dedicated to the advancement of ACUI and the students with whom he worked.  

“He was one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and caring leaders in our association,” said ACUI past President Shirley Plakidas, “He was a mentor to many, and a friend to all. He will be greatly missed.” 

Bebb’s volunteer journey with ACUI began in 1953, when he served as a regional conference chair as an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska. He never looked back. Other roles included regional representative, Annual Conference chair, Resolutions Committee chair, and vice president for committee affairs—not to mention his membership on numerous other Association committees. Bebb was elected president in 1975.  

During his presidency, Bebb focused on finding ways to make the Association more effective. Under his leadership, ACUI established the Commission for Educational Programs and decided to hire a new full-time staff member to oversee the Association’s programming efforts. In an October 1975 Bulletin editorial, Bebb addressed the need to make this change: “Our members need all the educational programs and services possible, not just the most we can give with our present capabilities and structure.” 

As Bebb advanced through volunteer roles at ACUI, his career blossomed as well. He served in the United States Air Force following the completion of his undergraduate career, then went on to earn a master’s degree from Michigan State University. He served as director of Hewitt Union and coordinator of student activities at State University of New York, College of Oswego before being named director of the University of Utah’s A. Ray Olpin University Union in 1968, a role he held until his retirement in 1995.  

“Ernie was one of the first people I got to know when I got involved with our profession,” said ACUI Past President and University of Utah Director Whit Hollis. “Little did I know then that I would be following him serving at the University of Utah. Even in retirement, he was a resource, guide, and friend.” 

ACUI honored Bebb’s commitment to the Association and profession with the Butts-Whiting Award in 1983. During her presentation, Cynthia Woolbright called Bebb “an eminent model” for the profession. Woolbright noted his dedication, talent, humor, and thoughtfulness. 

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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.