Join ACUI January 27–28 for the Conference & Events Virtual Seminar.

Event management, including programming, event operations, and risk management, is a core competency of the student union and activities field. This seminar will provide your staff with: 

  • Training to boost conference sales
  • Networking with participants from across the country for cross-functional learning
  • New ideas from various student unions
  • Insights from dynamic faculty

Educational programs and networking opportunities will be geared toward those who strategize, operate, sell, plan, and execute the programs in this space.


Below you may find the full event schedule. Please note that all times are in Eastern.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Unique Venues



January 27

10:30 a.m. | Help Desk Opens
Have questions about the event? Need help navigating the platform? Stop by the Help Desk!
Noon–12:30 p.m. | Networking Opportunity
Before the event officially begins, you are invited to meet colleagues and discuss what you hope to learn!
12:30–1:30 p.m. | Welcome and Kickoff Session: Lean Management for Event Operations

Jeff Pelletier, Ohio State University, and Joel Hauff, Unique Venues
Event services professionals know that the biggest impact on clients and guests happens in the front of house. But those back-of-house spaces will make or break any event or any staff! This session leverages principles and concepts from Lean Management and Six Sigma training to help teams consider a continuous improvement process in storage rooms and event spaces to ensure that the guest experience is everything you want it to be.

1:30–2:30 p.m. | Breakout Sessions
Just Give Me Some Space

Presented by Rebecca Dietzler, California State University-Sacramento
When the pandemic hit, the CSU Chancellor directed all student unions to close and all scheduled events through the end of the year cancelled. It was not long before CSU staff received the first request to use their large empty spaces for things other than traditional events. Learn what it took to transform their spaces into an assembly/shipping area, a flu shot clinic, a chamber of the state legislature, and a courtroom for a high-profile criminal proceeding while adhering to county health guidelines and with minimal staff.

Safety is Customer Service

Presented by Isaac Barber, University of Connecticut
This presentation will focus on compliance and policies in an conference and event services environment. The presenter will outline best practices on how to stay current on related compliance expectations and guidelines for events by building and maintaining ongoing relationships with university and event partners (e.g., law enforcement, environmental health and safety personnel, fire marshals, building officials, state underground utility wire entities, health department personnel, etc.). The presenter will also outline strategies on how to reframe the way many people communicate compliance expectations and event-related policies. We tend to lead with a "no" posture. We many times communicate safety protocols in a way that the client "feels" penalized or as though we are being punitive. We are the experts, but it does not have to be an "us versus them" environment. This is especially important in an ever-changing, COVID-19 impacted environment. As the landscape changes at different paces, and we are asked to continually readjust so we can provide the safest context for our environments, we have to be prepared to support our customers in a way that they feel supported, even when we are communicating limiting guidelines due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Using EMS Hoteling to Create Bookable, Self-Service Student Spaces

Presented by Vanessa Vazquez, Florida International University 
This presentation will show attendees how FIU responded to the needs of their students as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic, which has affected every aspect of our lives, has impacted higher education and students’ ability to rely on quiet spaces to ensure their success in the classroom. FIU leadership charged the Event Management and Conference Services Team to facilitate a way that students could reserve quiet study spaces with guaranteed sanitation for their safety. A key component in bringing this idea to fruition was ensuring contact-tracing reporting was available consistently and at a moment’s notice. This presentation will provide a deep dive into the entire process of creating bookable, self-service student spaces including an aggressive timeline, challenges faced and how those challenges were overcome, and takeaways and next steps for universities who may want to provide a similar program for their students. This process can be reimagined beyond study spaces.

2:30–3 p.m. | Break
Take a break to stretch, grab a drink, and prepare for the afternoon.
3–4 p.m. | Breakout Sessions
Navigating Youth Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Presented by Sarah VanVooren and Rebecca Dycus, Southern Illinois University–Carbondale
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we meet, facilitate events, and deliver programs to our campuses and communities. This delivery method is ever-changing and based on the environment at the time. Campuses that provide youth programs have had to be innovative to continue to provide programmatic options and outreach to communities. During this session, Southern Illinois University–Carbondale will share their story of how they facilitated virtual youth programs in 2020, pivoting from providing 60+ in-person camps on campus. Presenters will also discuss how they changed this plan to continue to provide virtual and hybrid youth programs in the in 2021.

Rise of the Union: Doors Shut to Doors Open

Presented by Rustin McNiff and Noelle Oxboel, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill
The presenters will share the 2020 journey of the Carolina Union and how the 162,000-square-foot facility went from “doors shut” to “doors open” for their community. During this presentation, presenters will share their strategy to re-occupancy planning, building preparation, day-to-day management, and the re-imagination of space functionality to serve each member of the community in the safest way possible. They’ll also share firsthand accounts of a major shift in student employment and how they have made strides of success in facility improvements at little to no cost during this tumultuous time.

“Zoom-ing” through A Traditional Conference Format: What We Learned When a Live Event Went Virtual

Presented by Nick Olivarria, Lisa Walke, Jonathan Perez, University of California–Riverside
During this unsettling time of a pandemic, we have all had to re-imagine how we operate. The University of California–Riverside made a swift and successful pivot to virtual meetings using our existing Zoom platform. Staff discovered quickly that their programming teams needed more functionality, with little time to source and implement new software platforms. This workshop covers how they re-imagined using Zoom Pro Meeting and Webinar Services for a two-day, multi-session conference and lessons learned in the process.

4–4:30 p.m. | Networking Activity
Meet fellow attendees to share ideas and more during this networking time!

January 28

10:30 a.m. | Help Desk Opens
Have questions about the event? Need help navigating the platform? Stop by the Help Desk!
11 a.m.–Noon | General Session: Future of Campus Events Panel

Jonathan Duke, Kennesaw State University;  Katie Beaulieu, Wayne State University; Doug Booher, Indiana University
Join this panel discussion on the future of campus events! We experienced a year like no other in 2020. Many campuses closed, operations were suspended, and budgets were cut. This panel will discuss how campus event planners can be more proactive in planning for 2021, ideas for generating revenue in this new environment, and lessons learned. Bring your questions for our panelists.

This session will be moderated by Chuck Salem, CEO of Unique Venues.

Noon–12:15 p.m. | Break
Following the general session, take a break to stretch, grab a drink, and prepare for the afternoon.
12:15–1:15 p.m. | Breakout Sessions
Fright Night on Broad During COVID-19

Presented by Alicia Ferguson and Jennylee Ramos, Temple University
This presentation will review an outdoor movie event that created a safe in-person event during the pandemic. Temple stopped all in-person events and classes, but when the city began to open up a bit, staff took a chance to help build some sense of community for the students who were living on and around campus. This was the first in-person event to take place on campus and was done successfully.

Leveraging the Impact of COVID-19 to Improve Sustainability

Presented by Isaac Barber, University of Connecticut
The presentation will focus on the necessity of shifting to a paperless environment due to a COVID-19 impacted environment and outline the process of how it was accomplished. It will also outline expected and unexpected benefits of these efforts. This will be an initial example of how to engage staff in the "downtime" because they may not be able to engage in the normal execution of work. This will also show how these advances allow units to more efficiently utilize resources and increase staff productivity. These advances will be improvements that are designed to carry over into a non-COVID-19 impacted environment. Then, the session will be opened up to participants to share their experiences, facilitated by Isaac Barber.

Seamlessly Transition Your Operation from In-Person Events to Virtual Events

Presented by Rigo Campos and Andre Rodriguez, Florida International University 
This presentation will show attendees how FIU’s Graham Center team quickly pivoted from in-person events to virtual events in response to COVID-19. As the future of in-person events became uncertain early in the pandemic, this team recognized the growing need for virtual and hybrid events. The presentation will show how they researched best practices, explored platforms, invested on equipment and on licensing. Presenters will also show how they converted an event space previously used solely for in-person programs into a studio space to accommodate virtual and hybrid events. As a trusted venue and event service provider for university departments and student organizations, their reputation was essential in cementing their team as the go-to for virtual events. These services, which are projected to be requested as part of the “new normal,” have also opened up a new revenue stream allowing their team to make up for some of the revenue losses in other areas impacted by COVID-19

1:15–1:45 p.m. | Networking
Meet fellow attendees to share ideas and more during this networking time!
1:45–2 p.m. | Break
Take a few minutes to stretch, refill your drink, and reflect.
2–3 p.m. | Exhibitor Showcase
Come connect with exhibitors to discover the solutions you need.
3–4 p.m. | Breakout Sessions
Master Calendar and Priority Event Scheduling

Presented by Alicia Ferguson, Temple University
Master calendar and priority scheduling allows schedulers to ensure that all university events will have the appropriate space needed for major events. Master calendar events are those that happen yearly and are generally around the same time each year. Priority events are those that may not have the same date but need a particular space on campus in order for the event happen (e.g., based on size, scope, tech needed, etc.). The presenter will cover steps used to make this process successful. Attendees will learn how to create a timeframe for requests to be submitted; how to review requests for conflicts and determining which event will get the space; how to explain why they were not given the space and determine the next best course of action; to finalizing and sending all confirmations.

Student Staffing: A Comprehensive and Strategic Review

Presented by Isaac Barber, University of Connecticut
In this presentation, the presenter will distribute a student employment position evaluation document and provide specific information on how student employee supervisors can use the document to evaluate their student staff positions; identify and draw direct correlations to the missions of the unit, the division, and the university; breakdown all aspects of training into definable increments that link to functional competencies; build out scheduled proficiency evaluations with defined competency goals; identify learning outcomes and schedule related assessments (along with climate surveys); and identify and create a distribution plan (as well as a workstation disinfectant plan) for PPE and shared equipment in a COVID-19 impacted environment. The presenter will use a position that has been evaluated with this method at UConn as the example.

4–4:15 p.m. | Conclusion
Join with colleagues once more to close out this event!


Registration includes access to educational sessions, all-conference sessions, and networking opportunities throughout this virtual event.

Early (through January 13)
Regular (January 14–22)
Professional Member
Professional Nonmember


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