The Legacy Leader Award recognizes individuals who have served as leaders within the college union profession and have worked throughout to advance campus community building. What makes this award unique is that it is a recognition by fellow ACUI members and colleagues of an individual's impact on the field through their spirit and character.

By nominating an individual for this award, you agree to fundraise on their behalf. “Champions” will be provided with a toolbox of resources, and a member of the Education and Research Fund Program Team and staff at the ACUI Central Office will be assigned to help you reach your fundraising minimum of $2,500.

Potential recipients should not be notified of the nomination or selection until awards recipients are announced in 2022.

Criteria and Eligibility

  • Minimum of seven years of service to the college union and/or student activities profession
  • Minimum of five years of leadership service to ACUI on a regional and/or international level
  • Active participation in advancing the mission of the Education and Research Fund through the years
  • Recognized by colleagues, friends, or students for extraordinary service to the field
  • Membership in ACUI


Nominations are closed for this year; next year's award nomination process will be open in October 2022. Submission materials must include the following:

  • Name and contact information of the nominator.
  • Name and information about the nominee.
  • A letter of nomination in support of the nominee to receive the award addressing a summary of how the candidate's experience and achievements meet the criteria identified for this specific award.


2021 Recipients

Krista Harrell, University of South Alabama

Krista Harrell was described by students, colleagues, and fellow volunteers as an amazing inspiration; an incredible role model; intelligent, passionate, and kind; a rock-star woman; and a Mount Rushmore of mentors. Whether reviewing educational session proposals, facilitating tough conversations, or supporting victims of sexual assault, her commitment to serving ACUI and the profession is consistently significant. She has volunteered as a member of a Conference Program Team, the Education Council, and the Board of Trustees, and on campus, she supports the student center, student activities, fraternity/sorority life, student organizations, and more.

Krista Harrell
Dwayne Isaacs, University of South Florida–St. Petersburg

Dwayne Isaacs has been described as an advocate, champion, confidant, colleague, friend, mentor, and role model. The number of individuals impacted by him are countless, from students and colleagues on campus to fellow of volunteers. He has been an active member of ACUI for ten years, serving in various roles, including regional conference coordinator, regional director, I-LEAD® facilitator, and Conference Program Team member. For many members, their ACUI experience has been defined by their interactions with Dwayne—his encouragement, his real-talk, his leadership style, and his friendship.

Dwayne Isaacs
Keith Kowalka, University of Houston

Keith Kowalka has served at the University of Houston for 23 years, currently leading a large comprehensive division of multiple departments supporting student engagement, activities, and enrollment services. Colleagues can attest to his skills and talents as a leader, role model, mentor, and friend—contributing as an ACUI volunteer with a “can-do” attitude, knowledge of ACUI history, and an infectious laugh. They describe him using words like influential, awesome, caring, thoughtful, authentic, positive, delightful, compassionate, supportive, wise, kind, inspiring, and encourage.

Keith Kowalka

Past Recipients

2020 Recipients
  • Tena Bennett, Southern Illinois University–Carbondale
  • Meg O'Sullivan, SUNY–Downstate Medical Center
  • Kerry Spicer, Daemen College


The Education and Research Fund Program Team will review all nominations, select the recipients, and notify nominators of the status of their nomination by mid-December. A physical award will be given to the recipients, who will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the Annual Conference and in subsequent publications.