Additionally, board members applied their lens as educators, familiar with the learning and development of undergraduates. Without knowing what biases or student development transformations Butts had as a student, they valued his thoughts and noted that his efforts to improve campus inclusivity as a professional are well documented.
His commitment to the union philosophy led to his deep interest in the international union movement, which resulted in State of the College Union Around the World, a comprehensive book about unions in 60 countries. This commitment also led him, along with Edgar Whiting, to persuade federal agencies to include unions in the federal loan program, without which many union facilities never would have been built.
No concerns or renaming proposals have been received at this time related to Edgar Whiting, the second individual for whom the Butts-Whiting Award was named. Therefore, consistent with the established procedures, no formal review panel was formed to conduct a vetting process.
Edgar Whiting served as ACUI’s secretary-treasurer from 1941–68, helping to make the Association what it is today. Whiting kept the Association books, answered inquiries about unions, wrote to prospective members, produced the annual conference proceedings, and filled publication orders, working from an office in his home during evenings and weekends. After 1963, Whiting ran the employment service that is now the ACUI Career Center. He also arranged and managed the Association’s annual conferences for 20 years, sometimes planning three years in advance. His devotion to excellence and unparalleled leadership service established a model of professionalism highly regarded in the college union field today.
All of this was accomplished during his service as director of Cornell University’s Willard Straight Hall from 1958–70. Previously he was assistant director under Foster Coffin. During the first half of his tenure, Whiting donated his time on a voluntary basis; only during the second half was ACUI able to afford a token stipend for his services. Whiting also served in the U.S. Army from 1944–46 and later reenlisted and served 1950–52.
When he retired from the field in 1971, he received an ACUI honorary membership at the annual conference “for his 40 years of devoted service to the union at Cornell, for his 27 years of incalculable contributions to this association, for the thrusts forward he has given to the union movement by working steadfastly at it with talent and wisdom, and for being the already honorable person and friend he is.”
The Board of Trustees immediately established a working group and asked them to recommend a process to vet individuals who would be honored by named awards and to recommend how ACUI should examine issues or concerns raised about individuals named for established awards or honors. Those procedures were approved by the board in March 2018 and were applied in evaluating Porter Butts. In August 2018, the board received the working group’s report on this second phase of their charge.
In August 2017, the ACUI Board of Trustees created the Naming ACUI Awards and Honors Working Group to look at procedures related to naming opportunities within the Association. This was in response to the study group initiated at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Applications were collected from the ACUI membership to join this working group, and members were confirmed by October 2017.
After compiling and reviewing resources such as sample naming policies and news/reports related to naming issues, the first step identified was to draft a set of Guiding Principles for Naming Decisions (see below). After collecting feedback from the ACUI membership on a draft through an online survey and a scheduled open forum, the principles were adjusted and accepted by the Board of Trustees in March 2018. Simultaneously, the working group drafted procedures for naming or renaming of ACUI awards (see below), which were also accepted by the Board of Trustees in March 2018.
The University of Wisconsin study group report was released in April 2018, which allowed the working group to apply these new procedures and begin addressing the third item of their charge. The review process included conversations with and evidence from Butts’ daughter Sherrill Randall and Wisconsin Union Director Emeritus Ted Crabb, as well as current and archival materials from the University of Wisconsin, ACUI, and other media sources.
Over a four-month period, the working group obtained and reviewed nearly 60 sources and engaged in significant discussion around process, standards of evidence, and the challenging task to consider the recognition provided to Porter Butts. The final report and recommendations of the working group were presented to the Board of Trustees in August 2018.
In response, the Wisconsin Union Council issued its own resolution in April 2018. After additional meetings during the months to follow, the Union Council released an amended resolution in August 2018, including relocating the Porter Butts name from their art gallery to another permanent non-programming location within the Memorial Union.
By policy, the Board of Trustees has the authority to create Association awards and scholarships and to name them in honor of an individual.
The process and rationale behind award naming decisions made decades ago is not clear in all cases—beyond acknowledging a connection between the individual namesakes’ legacy and the purpose of the corresponding award. Recent naming decisions have followed a proposal process. Component groups of the Association, such as the ACUI Education and Research Fund or the Volunteer Development Team, have worked with stakeholders to submit proposals outlining the award name, purpose, criteria, and any intended monetary scholarship amounts. Since 2013, the naming of a monetary award or scholarship has required a minimum of $10,000 in donated funds prior to the approval of the scholarship by the board.
Moving forward, the newly established guiding principles of vetting procedures will be utilized to establish new named awards or scholarships and to address concerns raised regarding existing namesakes.
Since the benchmarking project of 2014, ACUI has created a workforce around this effort. Each of the Association's eight regions has an inclusivity coordinator, and the staff has identified a senior diversity officer. Additionally, the Council for Diversity and Inclusion brings together representatives from the Board of Trustees, Volunteer Development Team, Communities of Practice, Education Council, Central Office, regions, and the general membership to support the Association's D&I strategy across all its programs and services.
Within this strategy, the Association has created more structure and standards for its D&I efforts. Content related to Intercultural Proficiency has been offered at all face-to-face programs as well as digital badges and webinars. Also at events, all-gender restrooms, nursing mother suites, prayer and reflection spaces, and captioning services have been added and these are routinely offered at the Annual Conference and most Regional Conferences. Additionally, when selecting new Annual Conference sites, a clause is incorporated into any agreements, allowing ACUI to terminate the contract without penalty should new laws be enacted that conflict with our values. All the Association's contracts now contain a broad nondiscrimination clause as well.
In terms of communication, with ACUI rebrand in 2017, comprehensive branding guidelines provide standards for inclusive language. Desirable formats of communication are also part of this resource (e.g., presentation slides considerations for people with low vision, pronoun usage in email signatures). Volunteer training on this and other areas related to diversity and inclusion are offered regularly. The Council for Diversity and Inclusion has also assisted in improving volunteer selection procedures to ensure equity and transparency. Since 2013, representation of volunteers from traditionally minoritized populations has increased.