History of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUIHistory of ACUI

History of ACUI

As one of the oldest associations in higher education, ACUI dates back to 1914 when it was founded in the Midwestern United States by a group of students. Over its storied history, it has evolved to the knowledge-based association for campus community builders. Our members are students and professionals working in college unions and student activities throughout the world.

1914 The Association was founded.
1917–18 The Association does not meet because of World War I.
1919 The Association is revived.
1920 Under the new name, “the Association of College and University Unions,” the organization grows to 21 institutions.
1922 The Association becomes international as McGill University and the University of Toronto are named charter members under a new constitution. Additionally, J.B. Bickersteth, University of Toronto is elected as the first president.
1929 For the first time, professional members outnumber student members.
1930 The first Bulletin is published.
1931 The organization is renamed the “Association of College Unions.”
1933 The first collegiate billiards tournament is held.
1935 The first women delegates attend the Association’s annual conference.
1948 The Association holds its first conference not on a college campus. Twenty-one regions are represented. The conference also includes the Association’s first exhibit hall.
1949 Institutional membership passes 100.
1950 Student members outnumber professional members.
1951 Association membership passes 200.
1953 The number of regions is reduced to 11. The Association holds its first West Coast conference.
1956 The Role of the College Union is adopted.
1959 The Association establishes an office at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
1960 Bulletin circulation passes 2,000 copies.
1963 Membership passes 500 and the number of regions is increased to 15.
1964 The Association celebrates its golden anniversary.
1967 The Butts-Whiting Award, the Association’s highest honor, is created.

The organization changes its name to “the Association of College Unions-International.” It discusses a merger with the National Entertainment Conference and Association of College and University Concern Managers. They agree it is unnecessary, concluding that NEC could be a “spin-off” like the National Association of College and University Food Service.

Chester A. Berry, Stanford University, becomes the first paid staff member of the Association.

1968-69 R.E. Walde, University of Iowa begins an in-depth study on the expansion of [Recreation] Committee activities, with particular emphasis on Trap-and-Skeet Programs. A pilot program is conducted in Region 10, and an evaluation and complete report is presented to the executive committee.
1969 The Association moves to California, leasing office suites at Stanford University.
1971 ACUI publishes “The College Union Idea,” by Porter Butts.
1972 Shirley Bird Perry, University of Texas–Austin, becomes the Association’s first woman president.
1974 For the first time since 1922, the annual conference is held outside the United States, at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

Shirley Bird Perry becomes the first woman to receive the Butts-Whiting Award.

The Association partners with the academic quiz program College Bowl to offer tournaments to college campuses.

1981 The Central Office moves to the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, Ind.
1984 LeNorman Strong, Cornell University, becomes the Association’s first president who is a person of color.
1988 LeNorman Strong becomes the first person of color to receive the Butts-Whiting Award.

The Association celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The Association becomes educational partners with the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, providing volunteer support for this exemplary College Bowl program for historically black colleges and universities.

1994 Marsha Herman-Betzen becomes the Association’s first woman executive director.
1995 The Association launches its first Web site, advertising the 1996 annual conference.

The Role of the College Union Statement is revised and reaffirmed.

The hyphen is removed from the Association’s name, “thus giving ‘International’ equal billing with the other elements of the name.”

The Central Office moves from the Indiana University campus to its current home, One City Centre, Suite 200.

1998 ACUI becomes a charter member of the Consortium on Government Relations for Student Affairs to better inform members of legislative and regulatory issues.
2000 The first Institute for Leadership Education and Development (I-LEAD®) is held independent of the annual conference.

ACUI reinvents itself as a knowledge-based organization structured to support professionals and student campus community builders.

ACUI Procure is launched as a group-buying program to save members time and money on furniture, services, equipment, and other products.

ACUI creates the Stop the Hate! bias and hate crime prevention program for college campuses.


ACUI adopts 11 core competencies for the college union and student activities profession.

ACUInfo goes live, featuring information on almost 700 data points and becoming the only benchmarking resource of its kind for college unions and student activities.

2006 All start-up costs for the ACUI Procure group buying program are fully repaid, more than five years ahead of schedule.

ACUI launches Communities of Practice.

After 31 years of collaboration with ACUI, the College Bowl Company suspends the College Bowl campus program.

The Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association contracts ACUI to provide association management services.

Updated April 5, 2013
News and Upcoming Events
  • 100th Anniversary Celebration

    Community Service

    Thursday, April 30 - Pay It Forward Day 
    Thursday, Sept. 11 - 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance 
    Saturday, Oct. 24 - Make a Difference Day 
    Saturday, Nov. 21 - Family Volunteer Day







Association of College Unions International | One City Centre, Suite 200 | 120 W. Seventh St. | Bloomington, IN 47404
812.245.ACUI (812.245.2284) | 812.245.6710 FAX | acui@acui.org
© 2020 ACUI