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

 Visionaries Logo

In honor of the 100th anniversary, the PBS program Visionaries has produced a two-part documentary about college unions. Check your local PBS affiliate for showtimes, or visit http://visionaries.org/episode_listings/season_19/index.php to watch each of the four segments of the program

Please note: All stations that air the broadcast are licensed to show the series unlimited times in a two-year period, so it is likely you can view the program again even if you miss it the first time. Additionally, each member school has been provided a DVD copy. 


Producing the Documentary: 

Visionaries is documentary series highlighting rarely told stories of nonprofit organizations all around the world. It has been shown on public television since 1995. Hosted by Sam Waterston of Law and Order and Newsroom fame, "Visionaries tells the stories of individuals dedicated to changing the status quo in an effort to promote positive coexistence. The documentaries seek to inspire vast audiences, serve as catalysts for positive social change and promote philanthropy on a global level," according to the program's website.

ACUI was contacted by a representative of the program seeking a proposal for the Association to be featured. After receiving the application put together by the 100th Anniversary Task Force, Visionaries said they believed the college union had a compelling story to tell and were looking forward to the challenge of capturing who we were, the good we do, and the impact we have.

The task force began with a set of criteria to select the member institutions that could best represent our story. A conscious choice was made to focus on the program rather than the building, and four college unions were selected for their ability to connect to different aspects of the Role of the College Union Statement, which would be the framework.

The first shoot was celebrating homecoming at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a large, state research institution. Not only was Wisconsin a founding member of the Association and the home of the late ACUI legend Porter Butts, but the union also has a long history of cultivating "enduring loyalty to the college" and being a "student-centered organization."

Next, it was off to Davidson College, a small, private, liberal arts college in North Carolina, known for its contributions to the Association by another pioneer, C. Shaw Smith. There, the student Union Board's election party was filmed, demonstrating outcomes in citizenship, "participatory decision making," and leadership.

The third stop was California State University–Northridge, an ethnically diverse, mostly commuter campus, with many first-generation college students. By showcasing the new recreation center, Pride Center, veterans center, and plans for a wellness center–all under the union's purview–it was demonstrated how the union "values diversity" and represents a "well-considered plan for the community life of the college."

The final locations was at the University of Vermont, renowned for having the first LEED Gold certified union. There, the union's emphasis on sustainability, local sourcing of food and products, art, and activism was used to show how students learn "social responsibility and values."

Every member institution will be able to use this one-hour documentary to tell their story. The beautiful pictures of college union colleagues doing what you do; the poignant testimonials by the directors of each organization who spend each day living the role of the college union; the unscripted interviews with student employees and those who have found their home in union programming and governing boards; the heartfelt love from alumni who recall their stories of union involvement and how it has translated into their lives; the praise from partnerships forged with faculty; and the genuine support and understanding from presidents, chancellors, and deans will leave you smiling, occasionally choked up, and certainly compelled to share the episodes with your community.

Sam Waterston filmed his contributions to this documentary that will air in two half-hour episodes in late 2013. Each member institution will receive a copy of the show. In addition, a web application is being developed so you can share this story as well. As we approach the 100th anniversary in 2014, we will finally have an evolving resource to tell our story for the world to hear.



Updated Aug. 18, 2014
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