2020 Board of Trustees Elections

Candidate profiles for the current Board of Trustees elections are available below. The candidates who receive the most votes for their respective offices will be installed as such in 2020. Eligible voting members will receive notices regarding voting in the election via email.

The election closed on November 23; results from this year's Board of Trustees election are available here.

Candidates in elections have been asked not to campaign on their behalf, and the same is asked of all ACUI members. All of the information below was submitted by the candidates; the content has not been edited by ACUI. You are encouraged to contact candidates with any questions regarding their candidacy.


There are two candidates for one president-elect position, which arries a three-year commitment. Click on the candidate names below to read the full candidate profiles.

Deepti Chadee

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
In thinking about the Association's strategic priorities, I believe we must demonstrate our value, advance our profession, and strengthen engagement in our community.

Higher Education is in a constant state of change. The college student profile, fluctuation in policies, rising costs, and expectations that are placed on various stakeholders all play a role in this change. Budgets on campuses are getting tighter and the need to do more with less is ever-present. Because of this, we must utilize data-driven practices to show the value the association can provide its members and institutions.

Additionally, we must continue to seek out creative and innovative methods that advance our profession and prepare us for the future. Opportunities including the Digital Badge program and our Research Agenda allow us to be forward-thinking and fosters continuous learning. The current student profile is more diverse which has shifted the way our spaces are utilized, how communities are created, and how information is gathered. We must provide our members with the knowledge base to best support the students on their campuses.

Another emphasis is to continue the efforts to strengthen membership. The people within our association are our greatest resource - we must focus our efforts on cultivating engagement of our members. Whether it's connecting with long time members, welcoming new members, nominating members for volunteer opportunities, or providing spaces to come together, we have the opportunity to strengthen who we are and this is essential for the longevity of our association.

Our current approach to strategic priorities, although in its infancy, can guide us toward where we would like to go and provide us the chance to be nimble in today's environment.Ultimately our strategic priorities must be relevant to the needs of our members.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
The opportunity to serve this Association as President is extremely humbling and exciting. In reading the position description, I am eager to approach this role and work alongside the Leadership Team to make a lasting impact on the Association. I am a person who is hardworking, dedicated, and thoughtful in what I commit to; therefore, I give my all to ensure that I have left that role better than when I found it.

I have served as an Association volunteer in a variety of capacities such as Regional Conference Program Teams, Regional Leadership Teams, Annual Conference Program Teams, and as a Digital Badge Program Instructor. As a volunteer, I have been able to experience ACUI through multiple lenses and understand the experiences our volunteers are having.

My recent experiences as a Board of Trustees Member and as a Diversity & Inclusion Self-Assessment Working Group member have provided me a greater sense of the work that is to be done within the Association. Over the last two years, I have been challenged, conflicted, and inspired. Through conversations as a Board member, I continued to keep in mind the responsibility I have to the members of the association, future professionals, and students we serve. I have learned that I am also a person that is willing to do the work, even when it can be hard at times, which I feel is critical to the role of President.

One of my stronger skills is my ability to connect with others, and this stems from a genuine place of care. I place priority on taking the time to listen and support those who I work it. Its is critical for each of our members to feel valued and included, and as President, I would lead the charge in this. I recognize the magnitude of the role of President within our Association, and I feel as though I am ready to serve the Association I love so much in this capacity.

Candidate Information

Deepti Chadee is Director, Senior Year Experience at Texas Christian University and can be contacted directly at deepti.chadee@tcu.edu or 817.257.5152.

Relevant Experiences
  • Board of Trustees, At-Large Member, 2018-present
  • Digital Badging -Large Scale Event Management Course, Faculty Member, 2018
  • Region II Leadership Team, Regional Conference Coordinator, 2017
  • 2016 Annual Conference Program Team, 2014-2016
  • Region II Leadership Team, Education Programs Coordinator, 2013-2014
  • Region 12 Leadership Team, Education Coordinator, 2012-2013
  • Region 12 Leadership Team, Conference Host Chair, 2011-2012
  • Student Organization Advisor Involvement and Retention, September 2010, The Bulletin
  • Region 12 Leadership Team, Graduate Student Project Team Leader, 2009
Educational Background

Master of Education in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs, May 2010
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

Bachelor of Science in Business Management, December 2007
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Jeremy Schenk

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
The next three to five years will be a significant time of change for ACUI. As we look towards ways to diversify our revenue streams and secure a strong financial future for the association, we must continue to focus on key strategic issues facing the association. Some of these include: growing our membership; strengthening our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; growing the next generation of student union leaders; and combating social isolation and loneliness on college campuses.

ACUI must continue to explore the accessibility of the current membership structure and how this structure must change, or evolve, in order to expand and retain members. Specifically, we must continue to identify pathways for engagement of small schools, two-year schools, HBCUs, HSIs, tribal colleges, and non-U.S. schools.

Thanks to the hard work of Central Office staff, and many engaged volunteers and members of our association, ACUI has refocused our energy on our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. In 2019 ACUI completed our second Diversity and Inclusion Benchmark study which led to the Board of Trustees creating of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Team. The Board of Trustees will need to work with the program team, and with ACUI central office staff, to ensure that we continue to take action that moves us towards becoming a more inclusive, diverse, and socially just Association.

Staff retention on our campuses continues to be an issue. Studies have found that 60% of new student affairs professionals leave the field within their first six years. This is concerning as we look ahead to the retirement of our baby boomer colleagues. Losing experienced department leaders in high level positions and new professionals at entry-level positions will create issues for our profession at all levels. ACUI must begin to explore how we can train and grow the next generation of aspiring student union and campus activities professionals.

Finally, ACUI must begin to work with our member campuses to actively combat the growing concern of social isolation and loneliness in college students. In 2017, the American College Health Association surveyed nearly 48,000 college students and 64% said they had felt"very lonely", 62% reported"overwhelming anxiety", and 69% reported feeling"very sad" in the previous 12 months. Now, more than ever, our students need college unions and campus activities offices to become actively involved in creating a community space where nobody ever has to sit alone.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
Early on in my career I fell in love with the college union. I remember walking into the newcomers session, at my first ACUI conference, and being welcomed into this gathering of community builders. I was told that as a volunteer-led association they needed me (us) to fully engage with, and lead, the association. I immediately realized that ACUI would be my professional home, and after reading the College Union Idea and reflecting on the role of the college union, I knew I wanted to be a union director.

Although the role of the college union as the campus community center has not changed, the campus and the community we are serving has. Similarly, ACUI must continue to explore how to meet the needs of our membership going forward. I have been fortunate to serve ACUI through many different leadership roles at a regional and association level including: various regional leadership team positions, regional conference program team member, annual conference program team member, Regional Director, co-chairing the ACUI Regional Audit Taskforce, co-chairing the Regional Restructuring Taskforce, serving two terms as an At Large Member on the Board of Trustees, and chairing the Strategic Plan Development Core Review team for the 2016-2018 strategic plan and the 2019 strategic plan. I have been involved with, and led, strategic change for our Association.

I bring with me over 19 years of student union and campus activities experience (over 13 years in Director level positions) and have served as a transformative, relationship focused, change agent for my departments and campuses. I do this through my signature strengths of Context, Empathy, Communication, Strategic, and Activator. My strengths heavily lay in the Influencing, Strategic Thinking, and Relationship Building categories within Gallup's Strengths Based Leadership. These strengths have allowed me to think strategically, build strong relationships, and effectively lead departments and organizations through times of change.

As our association deals with the ever changing environment in higher education, it would be a true honor for me to serve as President Elect on the ACUI Board of Trustees. I have demonstrated my love for ACUI, my commitment to leading with transparency, and my focus on engaging our membership in the process. I fully believe that our brightest times as an Association lies ahead and I look forward to continuing to serve our Association to the best of my ability.

Candidate Information

Jeremy Schenk is Executive Director of the Norris University Center at Northwestern University and can be contacted directly at jeremyschenk@northwestern.edu or 847.491.2323.

Relevant Experiences

ACUI Association Level Involvement

  • At-Large Member of the Board of Trustees: 2017-2019
  • Strategic Plan/Strategic Guidepost Development Team: 2018-2019
  • At-Large Member of the Board of Trustees: 2014-2016
  • Strategic Plan Development Core Team - Chair: 2014-2016
  • College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) Host Director — 2015
  • Regional Restructuring Taskforce - Co-Chairperson: 2012-2013
  • Regional Audit Taskforce - Co-Chairperson: 2011-2013
  • Region 11 Regional Director: 2010-2012
  • 2010 Annual Conference Program Team - New York

ACUI Region 11

  • Regional Director: 2010-2012
  • Education Council Coordinator - Auxiliary Services: 2008-2010
  • Region 11 Conference Program Team: 2008

ACUI Region 9

  • Education Council Coordinator - Campus Life and Program Management: 2005-2006

Awards and Recognition

  • Presidential Award for Distinguished Service, Association of College Unions International, 2014
  • Revis A. Cox Memorial Award, Association of College Unions International, 2006
  • Role of the Student Union Award: Bears Backing Haiti, Association of College Unions International-Region 11, 2010
  • Role of the Student Union Award: Oops I Forgot Program, Association of College Unions International-Region 11, 2009
  • Outstanding Staff Achievement Award, Association of College Unions International-Region 11, 2008


  • Moving From a Job to a Profession: The Development and Retention of New Student Union and Campus Activities Professionals — IPDS 2019
  • Inspiring a Shared Vision - 2015
  • Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team — 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Organizational Change and Transition Management - 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Building Community through International Leadership Exchange Experiences - 2015
  • Strategic Plan Development Focus Groups - 2015
  • Lessons Learned From First Year Union Directors — 2014, 2016
  • Regional Audit Focus Groups - 2012


  • ACUI Regional Audit Report - 2012
  • Multiple Bulletin articles on Strategic Plan, Regional Audit, and Regional Restructuring


  • My dissertation research is on the relationships between the leadership practices of student union and campus activities directors and the professional outcomes of entry-level professionals related to job satisfaction, professional competency development, intention to leave the field, and engagement in student affairs professional associations
Educational Background

Bachelor of Science in Social Work - Illinois State University

Master of Science in Education Administration and Foundation - Illinois State University

Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis — University of Missouri

Chadee, Deepti
Deepti Chadee
Texas Christian University
Jeremy Schenk
Jeremy Schenk
Northwestern University

At-Large Member

There are six candidates for three at-large member positions, which carry a two-year commitment. Click on the candidate name below to read the full candidate profile.

Sujit Chemburkar

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
Our success stems from addressing the challenges we face as a society through our work in leading student unions. We do more than to simply see those challenges passively walk through our doors but we are obligated with actively helping students and our community address these tests through our programs and services. I look for patterns in society knowing full well that they will be at our doorsteps. As an example, I believe that financial stability and addressing physical infrastructure in our aging buildings remains important along with food insecurities, free speech issues, LGBTQ+ rights, and civility in communication/debate. The most important strategic issue I feel that we face as a professional association is in the continued preparation of our colleagues to be best prepared to address a chaotic world. Our work varies wildly from how to make sure the AV works seamlessly to how to navigate making our students feel welcomed and appreciated through the addition of neutral restroom signage. The association accomplishes this preparation through ongoing publication of research, active dialogue around the challenges we face, and the important task of making our association feel smaller through networking and community development. It should be easy for any of us to pick up the phone and call/text a colleague who knows immediately what we need and may have a solution, or at least, a sympathetic ear. I would see my membership on the board as a celebration of the passion of those who served before me and a continuation of their efforts. And it would be an honor to serve.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
As I review the strategic plan and imagine what an effective board member looks like, I find myself excited at the opportunity to work with ACUI's volunteer leadership. This begins my 20th year of higher education work as I progressed from graduate student in union operations to my current position as associate vice chancellor. My journey included six campuses and five state with a variety of institutions types and positions. I hope my experience and knowledge would lend itself well to informing my participation on the board. Feedback I have received throughout my life reflects that I have an ability to address challenges in original ways while doing the work with the needs of my colleagues in mind. I like to take disparate concepts and align solutions in new ways. I try to interject fun and humor into my work every chance I get!

Candidate Information

Sujit Chemburkar is Associate Vice Chancellor Student Affairs at University of North Carolina Charlotte and can be contacted directly at chemburkar@uncc.edu or 740.591.6488.

Relevant Experiences
My favorite experience has been teaching a few semesters of the event planning course at the University of South Florida in the College of Hospitality Technology. I have enjoyed looking to my doctoral studies as my main source of professional development allowing for other team members to enjoy the benefits of professional travel to ACUI and other associations. A moment of personal pride was being selected to participate in the Professional Development in Higher Education Leadership Program sponsored by the University of South Florida. I maintain lifelong mentors as a result of that program. I hope that I can mentor others through this board membership as my friends have mentored me in the past.

Educational Background
I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology from New Mexico State University in 1999. I then secured my masters degree in college student personnel administration in 2001 from the University of Central Missouri. I've been working towards my doctorate degree in two institutions as I have moved across the states for different positions.

Alistair Cowie

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
  1. Financial sustainability and organisational probity
    Without financial sustainability and good governance we cannot fulfil our mission: to support members in the development of community through education, advocacy, and the delivery of services. Board's task is to ensure Association dollars are funding strategies that keep us on track. The membership must be confident that its leaders are acting in members' best interests and in accordance with our articles of association, our core values and the law. The Board also needs to ensure that Central Office staff are appropriately resourced (and rewarded) to ensure they can do their work for the Association in the best possible way. I love the way the ACUI honours its staff. Trustees should never forget that they too are staff in their other lives.

  2. Membership growth, education and satisfaction
    We need members who are engaged ambassadors for ACUI and feel valued, respected and rewarded.

    Board needs constantly to seek member feedback so staff can develop programs, services, educational and networking opportunities that are relevant and accessible. If not, members will go elsewhere. Our Core are our point of difference and must underpin everything we do.

    Our members' research efforts are VITAL for our continued relevance. To be able to provide our campus leadership with the kind of information being developed in our Community of Research is not just valuable for the knowledge base; it proves our relevance and garners their support, thus creating the virtuous cycle we need to stay afloat.

  3. Diversity, inclusion and intercultural initiative
    The Council for Diversity and Inclusion has already done important work. A vital issue facing campus across the globe is diversity of thought. Especially now, how are we providing that ensures respectful dialogue is encouraged, not shut down?

    If the"I" in ACUI stands for 'International' then it's vital that there's non-US representation on the Board of Trustees. International membership growth is an obvious target for ACUI. If we're serious about our"I", we need to do more to make non-US colleagues feel that they too can participate even at the highest levels of the organisation.

  4. Staff and Volunteer recognition and well-being
    The public acknowledgment of our Central Office staff and our outstanding volunteers is integral to who we are as an association. Opportunities to better reward outstanding contributions (e.g. scholarships for education, training or attending conferences) should always be on the Board's agenda.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
I'm a respected, experienced professional with over 30 years' experience in student union affairs. I've been a student volunteer, student board president, staff member, staff director and now, CEO. I have a very special understanding of the relationship between a board director, staff and volunteers, because it is my everyday lived experience. For the past 17 years I've sat at the board table (as a staff director) of Australia's first university union. During that time, I advised hundreds of student directors on strategic direction, finances and governance. In 2015, I was awarded in Honorary Life Membership — USU's highest honour. I am immensely proud to be an ambassador for my union, my university and my profession.

As a volunteer, I've served on the boards and committees of Australia's student affairs professional bodies including NACAO, ACUMA and TAG. Like ACUI these bodies represent members at a national level and provide professional development, networking, group buying and student developmental programing.

For ACUI I've had the privilege of serving on our International Education Council, attending and speaking at National Conferences and advising on international membership development. I'm particularly proud of the conference proposal assessment process that the Ed Council developed with the Regional Directors. It's not especially sexy, but it has had the strategic benefit of ensuring a better, fairer process that has resulted in better, more relevant education sessions.

Among other roles, I sit on the University's
  • Diversity and Inclusion Working party - advising the academic board on these matters
  • Security Council - overseeing our communities safety and emergency response policies and procedures
  • Student Experience working party — which has benefited enormously form my ACUI experiences
  • Art Galleries and Museums Advisory Committee — the body responsible for the campuses arts and exhibitions programs
My organisation operates with a large annual turnover of around $35million dollars. We employ 200 staff across a number of commercial and non commercial operations. The payment of student union fees is now voluntary in Australia. I have been responsible for membership since this regime was imposed and have grown membership from 10% of undergrads to over 60%.

Candidate Information

Alistair Cowie is Acting CEO at The University of Sydney Union and can be contacted directly at a.cowie@usu.edu.au or +61411742315.

Relevant Experiences


  • 2017 - present - Weekly class - Masters of Project Management students — Sustainable Practices on Campus
  • 2017 - present - Weekly class - Bachelor of Business students — Sustainability and Marketing on Campus


  • 30 years with TAG, ACUMA, NACAO - the Australian versions of ACUI etc
  • 2016 - 2018 ACUI International Education Council
  • 2017 - ACUI Annual Conference - Education Session Proposal Writing 101
  • 2016 - ACUI Annual Conference 2 — Education Council: Education Summit
  • 2015 - ACUI Annual Conference— Paying Homage: Ideas Stolen & Used to Our Advantage
  • 2014 - ACUI Annual conference— What If Student Fees Were Illegal?
Educational Background
  • 2014 Graduate Diploma of Business Management (University of Sydney)
  • 2012 Master of Marketing (University of Sydney)
  • 1994 Bachelor of Arts (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at the Edith Cowan University) major in musical theatre
  • 1991 Bachelor of Arts (University of Sydney); double major in English Literature and Philosophy
Jordy Dickey

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
As we look towards the future and the implementation of the new core competencies, I believe valuable pathways are being forged to address a variety of critical issues that impact our association. One of the core values of ACUI's mission is the emphasis that all individuals are worthy of being seen and known therefore it is imperative, as we continue to advance the work within the college union, that we also continue to advance the association's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the programs we offer, in the opportunities for advancement and service within the association, and in the active dialogue that ultimately allows us to grow collectively as a community. The global landscape of the college union is changing rapidly as well; as an association we want to be at the forefront of providing resources, education, and development opportunities that allow our members to feel equipped to serve effectively within their day-to-day roles. Strategic issues such as these can be addressed and advanced through the hearts and minds of our members therefore is important for the association to continue pursuing opportunities for all voices and innovative ideas to be brought to the table.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
Through my experiences within ACUI, I have grown to deeply love this association because of the people. You are the heartbeat of ACUI and I want to serve as an advocate for you and for the association to advance your voice, your ideas, your passion, and your care for this profession. The strategic insight I have gained from conference planning and presenting, leading a community of practice, advancing educational initiatives, and pursuing active member engagement has provided me a foundation and a passion to want to continue advancing our meaningful work within the world.

Candidate Information

Jordy Dickey is Assistant Director of Student Union at Baylor University and can be contacted directly at jordy_dickey@baylor.edu or 254.710.6291.

Relevant Experiences
My volunteer experience with ACUI began in 2016 as the Web & Social Media Coordinator for Region II from 2016-2018. I currently serve on the 2020 Atlanta Conference Planning Team (2017-present), a co-leader for the Sustainability Community of Practice (2019-present), and a digital badge instructor for Inclusive Spaces (Fall 2019).

Educational Background
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Azusa Pacific University (2005), a Master of Education in College Student Affairs from Azusa Pacific University (2007), and I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design at Baylor University.

Jonathan Duke

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
As ACUI advances campus community, leadership strives to grow in both diversity and faith in membership. A balance is needed to both serve the member institutions and individuals and progress the association priorities. As a board member, I will push forward an infusion of core competencies into our effort to improve the membership experience and connect mission to action. The three strategies I would champion are:
  1. Incorporation of Core Competencies in strategic planning and membership education. The core competencies act as both an education guide and call to action for leadership. As a member of the Education Council, we used a research and input centered approach to modify the Core Competencies to meet the associations current and future needs. As the association moves forward in intentional growth, the competencies should both guide and be part of the planning process with the board reflecting on the value and breadth of the competencies. The end goal of the board is to create, nurture, and provide guiding and living documents that reflect the spirit of the association.
  2. I would like to incite a rise in involvement of new and mid-level professionals to reflect the varied and diverse backgrounds of the newest members of the association. As our membership grows and both acclimates to and incorporates our colleges and universities cultures, so must the association. Traditional recruitment methods for volunteers are not as productive as they once were, despite rising generational tenants of increased volunteerism and community action. How can the association meet the needs of these new and mid-level professionals and recruit their strengths of leadership into our volunteer roles?
  3. As we advance community, the world advances in technology. Technology connects all member levels and professional types in the association — from Coordinators to Executive Directors and meeting schedulers to late-night programmers. ACUI works deftly with our strategic partners to keep our member institutions abreast of"what's next," but how can we help our members best stay informed and find affordable solutions for both retrofitting and renovating spaces with the newest tech? An exploration of how to bring technology to our members is in the association's best interest and brings forth possibilities of increased outside revenue from our associate members.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
My journey in student unions and student affairs is not traditional. After graduating with an Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech, I spent several years as an engineering consultant and project manager. My quarter-life crisis brought me into higher education where I've been able to introduce engineering principles of logic and order into my work environment. From advancing my office culture into productivity and customer satisfaction to improving building resource utilization to reduce staffing and energy costs, industrial engineering principles of efficiency and maximization of resources guide my thinking. Additionally, I have been involved in strategic planning initiatives for two of my three professional institutions, division, and external non-profit board work in the Atlanta community. The strategic planning experience at multiple higher education and non-profit organizations provides a varied-perspective on not just how to move the association forward, but how to take and incite action in membership. Finally, social justice is one of my life themes. I have been actively involved in the LGBTQ+ community in Atlanta since undergrad, and my recent experience in my doctorate program combined with working at Emory University challenged me in growth and understanding through and with my identities — privileged and non. I lead with a blend of kindness and empowerment, raising voices on all sides to make actual, truthful, and honest change.

Candidate Information

Jonathan Duke is Director of Events, Camps, & Conferences at Kennesaw State University and can be contacted directly at jduke24@kennesaw.edu or 678.472.3610.

Relevant Experiences
  • Education Council, May 2018- Present
  • Ad-hoc: Future of Annual Conference Educational Sessions Timeline, Fall 2016
  • Philadelphia Annual Conference Program Team, Educational Sessions Chair, August 2015-March 2017
  • Atlanta Regional Conference Program Team (Region III), Keynote Chair, January 2014-November 2014 (Georgia State University)
  • Ad-hoc: I-LEAD Curriculum Review, Fall 2013
  • I-LEAD, Small Group Facilitator, July 2013
  • Marietta Regional Conference Program Team (Region 6), Student Programs co-Chair, January 2013-November 2013 (Southern Polytechnic State University)
  • Region 6 Regional Leadership Team, Recreation Programs Chair, November 2012-March 2014
Educational Background
  • Ed.D. Student Affairs Leadership, University of Georgia, May 2018
  • M.Ed. College Student Affairs Administration, University of Georgia, 2008
  • B.S. Industrial Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2002
Neela Patel

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
I believe Associations are essential for the advancement of our profession however at the same time smaller and distinct Associations like ACUI are faced with unique strategic issues. ACUI has been my professional association of choice from the start and over my 18 plus years in the profession I have seen various challenges ACUI has tackled however over the past few year I believe a major issue ACUI faces is membership. Membership issues are complex and have many layers which I believe also overlap with other strategic areas that can either advance the association or create other issues. As an association, we need to determine a new creative way to engage and get information from current members, past members, and potential members. Member engagement, positive or negative, has various impacts on the association's working. Member engagement impacts the association's financial health however I feel the more important impact revolves around the diversity of the association, educational and learning experiences, volunteering for the association and storytelling of our work as Union and Activities professionals. All of these are integral to the success of the association and are interconnected. We need to continue to think of how we engage with our current, past, and potential members to better understand their "WHY or WHY NOT ACUI" through personal outreach and communication. The landscape of our profession and Student Affairs is drastically changing and we are facing new challenges that we have never faced before and only our members can help drive us to be a leader in our work and in the profession. Our work as Union and Activities professionals is transcending and our reach and touch point are greater than many other areas by the nature of what we do. Our members have to represent, not only our professionals but the students we serve. These challenges are not new and the association has taken steps to look at membership, including making Membership and Volunteer Experiences one of the Guideposts however I believe it needs to be a primary focus in order to sustain the association which will in turn assist in providing guidance and solutions for other areas of the association.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
Over my professional career, I have served and volunteered in various roles within the association including Regional Conference Host and Chair, Regional Inclusivity Coordinator, Regional Director, and a member of an Annual Conference Planning Team. Each one of my volunteer experiences provide me with a better understanding of how the association operates however prior to these experience I was a regular member attending conferences and engaging with the association through educational opportunities. It was these experiences and connections which made me choose ACUI as my professional association of choice. Experiences from my first regional conference to my current experience as a member of the Atlanta CPT provides me a depth of knowledge, experiences, and most importantly pride in ACUI. Throughout my career professionally I have had the opportunity to have diverse experiences within the Union model, from programming boards, student organizations, student center operations, management and much more. These experiences similar to my ACUI experiences provide me with a breadth of knowledge and more importantly understanding of the various needs, perspective and highlights of what our work is all about collectively and individually. I have an ability to think strategically and develop solutions, nothing is ever perfect and the association like our home campuses has challenges and struggles but it is how you think about those challenges to create solutions to help move forward and advance. This is not possible without having a good understand and appreciation for your colleagues and team members. I have the ability to lead a team but more importantly a skill that can work collaboratively in a team atmosphere to help reach goals and initiatives. The most important skill and perspective I have which will make me a successful and effective board member is pride and commitment to my work as a Union professional and ACUI. I am not only passionate about my work on my campus, but also the work ACUI does to help me be a better professional each day. ACUI has helped me develop, grow, and advance in my career and for that I am not only grateful but committed to volunteering for the association and serving as a board member. This work is not always easy, and at times there will be challenges and conflicts but I know my passion, drive, and commitment will help me and others get through therefore allowing us to continue to grow and advance ACUI together.

Candidate Information

Neela Patel is Senior Director, Student Centers and Event Services at Rutgers University and can be contacted directly at neela.patel@rutgers.edu or 908.208.1854.

Relevant Experiences
  • ACUI Annual Conference Planning Team (Atlanta), December 2018 - Present
  • ACUI Region VII Director, November 2016 - Present
  • ACUI Region VII Inclusivity Coordinator, November 2013 — November 2016
  • ACUI Strategic Planning Team Working Group, 2015
  • Host Chair for ACUI Region 3 Conference Planning Team, 2011
  • ACUI Region 3 Conference Planning Team, 2010
Educational Background
  • Bachelor of Science, Biology from Rutgers University
  • Masters of Education, from Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University
Brad Vest

Statement of Candidacy

What do you believe are the most important strategic issues facing the Association and how should the Association effectively respond?
The projected downturn with the high school graduation rates fast approaching; institutions of higher education will be competing for a very limited number of students who wish to continue their educational experience. The decreased number of students will highlight the struggle for dollars on many of our campuses. However, I feel ACUI can assist our members with advocating the need not to decrease our operating budgets.

Many of our facilities are seen as recruitment and retention tools for our campuses. Assisting in the creation of environments that allow student organizations to flourish; thus contributing to the holistic development of social and civic leadership skills that aid in the life-long learning. Not only does the union provide the physical space for these interactions to take place, but also the resources, policies, and artifacts that help create a sense of belonging for many students. Simply put, if our students are not provided the avenues to become actively engaged on our campuses, they will simply seek another place to find community (i.e. another institution or leave higher education entirely).

Furthermore, on-campus employment provides opportunities for our student workers to develop competencies that are sought after by future employers. The association should continue to teach and educate the importance of these skills to our membership through NACE and Iowa GROW workshops. The importance of promoting confidence and competence in these skill-sets, not only highlights the need for us as professionals to be able to articulate how we impact growth in our students, but allows us to have our students tell how their workplace experience has prepared them for post-graduation employment.

Given the position description, what skills and perspectives do you possess that would contribute to your success as an effective board member?
I have always prided myself on being proactive with the work that I do with the development of the student and professional staff that report to me. Key to this is using assessment and evaluation in order to gauge and measure our progress.

Each semester, the student union professional staff utilizes a 360 evaluation approach to better our operation. The student employees evaluate each other, the professional staff and vice versa. The information gathered assists the professional staff in understanding if the students are achieving the learning goals established for the student employees. The pro staff processes the results in order to discuss how we can improve our training, employee manual, and daily interactions with our student staff. If there is an area where the professional staff feel they need additional training in order to meet the expectations of the students, I advocate for the resources in order to make the professional staff better.

I have an expectation of the professional staff to not only to be involved with ACUI by attending conferences; but I require them to be engaged with leadership opportunities provided by the association. These opportunities include presenting at conferences and serving on regional and national positions. I feel this has made the team at Appalachian State stronger professionals as well as enables me to provide a better experience to those who work and used our facilities.

The doctoral work has allowed me to see how I can fully utilize my 25 + years experience in higher education to its greatest potential. I am constantly re-evaluating how I interact with campus partners in order to form a better collaborative environment that will better the student and pro staff of the student union. I believe I can also do this at an association level with ACUI that will allow have a better partnership with its membership.

Candidate Information

Brad Vest is Associate Director of Student Engagement and Leadership; Plemmons Student Union at Appalachian State University and can be contacted directly at vestpb@appstate.edu or 828.262.3032.

Relevant Experiences


  • Region III Smith-Steele Award 2017
    Given in recognition of long-term commitment to the profession, Region III, ACUI, and the campus community and for embodying the spirit of ACUI and its commitment to community building through leadership and service.
  • Region III Director 2014
    • Chief administrator of the region for the Association, serving as the liaison among the Association officers, Central Office, regional members, Regional Leadership Team, and task forces
    • Responsible for the upstart of the new Region III for ACUI
    • Created, coordinated, and recruited program presentations for ACUI Region III Construction and Renovation Drive-In Workshop
  • Region 5 Regional Director 2012 - 2013
    • Chief administrator of the region for the Association, serving as the liaison among the Association officers, Central Office, regional members, Regional Leadership Team, and task forces
  • Region 5 Business Manager 2010 — 2012
    • Served as the chief financial officer for the region
  • Region 5 Volunteer Recognition Coordinator 2008 — 2010
    • Assisted the Volunteer Coordinator with the recruitment, retention and recognition of volunteers within the region's regional leadership team


  • HPC 5380: College Students and Environments (Co-Instructor) Fall 2019
  • Freshmen Seminar (Instructor) Fall 2006


  • Yelton, J., Parrish, W., & Vest, P.B. (2019). Blueprints 101: Understanding architectural plans and specifications. Presented at the Association of College Unions International Conference, Indianapolis, IN
  • Yelton, J., Parrish, W., & Vest, P.B. (2017). Blueprints 101: Understanding architectural plans and specifications. Presented at the Association of College Unions International Conference, Philadelphia, PA
  • Dale, J, Ford, P & Vest, P.B. (2017) Transforming Student Employee Assessment. Presented at the Association of College Unions International Conference, Philadelphia, PA
  • Vest, P. B. (2013) How to successfully plan a program. Presented at the Association of College Unions International Region 5 Conference, Covington, KY
  • Evans, E & Vest P. B. (2013). Building a more effective and efficient association: An overview and feedback session on the regional audit. Presented at the Association for College Unions International Region 5 Conference, Covington, KY
  • Ford, P. & Vest, P. B. (2011). Legends — the story of ASU's on-campus nightclub. Presented at Association for College Unions International Conference, Chicago, IL.
  • Koehn, J. & Vest, P. B. (2009). Free speech at public college campuses. Presented at Association for College Unions International Conference, Anaheim, CA.
Educational Background
  • Ed.D., UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, Athens, GA (anticipated May 2020)
    Counseling and Human Development, Student Affairs Leadership.
    Dissertation: Campus Employment for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities in Transition and Postsecondary Programs
    Human Development and Psychological Counseling, Student Development-Administration (CACREP Accredited)
  • B.S., LANDER UNIVERSITY, Greenwood, SC (May 1991)
    Business Administration
Sujit Chemburkar - photo
At-Large Member
Sujit Chemburkar
University of North Carolina–Charlotte
Duke, Jonathan
At-Large Member
Jonathan Duke
Kennesaw State University
Cowie, Alistair
At-Large Member
Alistair Cowie
University of Sydney
Neela Patel - photo
At-Large Member
Neela Patel
Rutgers University
Jordy Dickey - photo
At-Large Member
Jordy Dickey
Baylor University
Brad Vest - photo
At-Large Member
Brad Vest
Appalachian State University

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