The Richard D. Blackburn New Professional Award honors an emerging leader in the profession for their energy and involvement in advancing campus community. The recipient receives a $400 cash prize to celebrate their commitment and allow for additional networking with peers, continued career growth, and professional development.

2020 Recipient
Edi Kuhn's student affairs journey began as a first-year student working as a member of the security staff in the Alumni Memorial Union at Marquette University. Today, Kuhn is as a full-time building supervisor in the same facility. Nominators describe Kuhn as a role model for employee service through campus involvement. In addition to attending several ACUI conferences, they are a member of the university senate, a diversity advocate, Pride Prom Planning Committee member, and the leader of a campus volunteer program that works with local homeless shelters. Kuhn recently began volunteering with a student affairs program that helps students with food insecurity. On a daily basis, Kuhn demonstrates the ability to show up and make a difference in other people’s lives. They were recently recognized with the 2019 Region V Rising Star Award.
Edi Kuhn
Past Recipients
  • 2019: Shane Farmer – Furman University
  • 2018: William Takewell – University of Kentucky
  • 2017: Mara Dahlgren – Indiana University–Bloomington
  • 2016: Morgan Meehan – The Ohio State University
  • 2015: Kim Kruchen – University of Colorado
  • 2014: Kim Pho – University of Notre Dame
  • 2013: Daniel Gray – University of Houston
  • 2012: Jody Poth – The Ohio State University
  • 2011: Kristen Salo – University of Colorado
  • 2010: Jason Cruz – University of Southern California
  • 2009: Filip Pongratz – Temple University
  • 2008: Jim Fawcett – University of Houston
  • 2007: Tari Wimbley – Indiana University-Bloomington
  • 2006: Tamara Yakaboski – University of Arizona
  • 2005: Heather Owen – Purdue University
  • 2004: Zane Reif – University of North Carolina-Charlotte
  • 2004: Kimberly Timpani – Clemson University
  • 2003: Susan Pile – University of Michigan
  • 2003: Joseph Gutowski – Case Western Reserve University
  • 2002: Paul Sutera – Rice University
  • 2001: Keith Kowalka – University of Houston
  • 2000: Melinda Griffith – University of Arizona
  • 1999: Cedric Howard – Weber State University
  • 1998: Sallie Tchang – California State University-Los Angeles
  • 1997: Ann-Marie Algier – University of Rochester
  • 1996: Sarah Aikman – Kansas State University


The review process includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of the criteria listed below. The nominee must:

  • Excel on campus through leadership, achievement, and institutional involvement.
  • Demonstrate commitment to ACUI through volunteer service.
  • Understand the importance of the profession in advancing campus community


Professionals with one to five years of experience in the profession at an ACUI member institution are eligible for this award.


Submission materials must include the following:

  1. Name, institution, and contact information of the nominee.
  2. Name, institution, and contact information of the nominator.
  3. Two to three letters in support of the applicant to receive the award written by individuals such as direct supervisors/advisors, peers/colleagues, students, faculty members, etc., addressing:
  • The achievements of the nominee in the profession.
  • The demonstrated commitment of the nominee to the criteria identified for this specific award.
  • A summary of the nominee’s background to provide evidence that they meet the criteria identified for this specific award, including information related to professional experience and volunteer service—providing a current resume or curriculum vitae for the nominee is optional.

The nomination deadline is December 11.

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About Richard Blackburn

Blackburn served ACUI in numerous leadership positions, including president in 1968-1969 and executive director from 1982-1991. Throughout his career, which included serving as the director of the union on three college campuses, he demonstrated continuous commitment to the development of student leaders and to new professionals.

His support and encouragement of individuals is felt today through the leadership of college union and student activities administrators everywhere who had the privilege of working with him in the early stages of their careers. His influence on and encouragement of new professionals is reflected in this award, given annually to an individual who demonstrates the potential for excellence in the field of college union and student activities work.


Richard Blackburn


Electronic notification will be sent to confirm award submissions have been received. A confidential Individuals Awards and Scholarships Committee, appointed annually by the ACUI president, will review materials to make the selection. One recipient will be chosen, unless otherwise noted for the specific award. One physical award will be given to the recipient, who will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference and in subsequent publications.