Association News

Community Builders Awards Honor Deserving Professionals, Students
March 12, 2013

ST. LOUIS — Delegates gathered in the Ferrara Theatre in St. Louis to honor colleagues at the Community Builders Awards Ceremony, March 12. Nineteen awards were given this year.

Richard D. Blackburn New Professional Award
Richard D. Blackburn’s influence on and encouragement of new professionals is reflected in his award honoring an individual who demonstrates the potential for excellence in the field of college union and student activities. This year’s recipient was Daniel Gray, University of Houston, who has served in numerous volunteer roles within the Association.

President of the Year Award
The President of the Year Award was established in 2012 to recognize those university presidents who advance the college union idea. The 2013 winner was Rena Khator, University of Houston, who was a tireless supporter of the University Center Transformation Project.

Honorary Membership
The Board of Trustees bestows honorary membership upon those individuals who have given exceptional service to the Association. This year, the board honored two individuals:

  • Martha Blood
  • William Edwards

Campus Awards

Collaborative Program of the Year
The Collaborative Program of the Year Award recognizes programs that bring together two or more campus entities to achieve one goal. The 2013 winner was Packapalooza at North Carolina State University. This program moved a traditional on-campus welcome week concert to a popular street on the edge of campus that is home to businesses, restaurants, and shops, allowing both the campus and surrounding community to participate.

Excellence in Student Training Programs

Training student employees is core to college union professionals’ work. The Kanbar Campus Center Staff Training goes beyond educating students on a specific position—it helps prepare them for life. The Train Them to Lead, Train Them for Life program at Philadelphia University includes a four-day leadership training, a week of on-the-job training, and continued support from supervisors.

Outstanding Service Project of the Year
The Outstanding Service Project of the Year Award acknowledges those programs and program leaders who not only make a difference on campus, but also in the community. This year’s winner was Tiger Pantry at the University of Missouri. This student-driven initiative brought a full-service pantry to campus that is available for use by anyone with student identification.

Staff-Driven Program of the Year
This award recognizes a program developed by staff who positively impacted student learning. The Power of Words, a program at the University of Colorado–Boulder’s Dennis Small Cultural Center, examined both discriminatory and inclusive language.

Student-Driven Program of the Year
Students can affect their peers through programming, and this award is given for such achievement. New York University’s Signs and Rhymes: Intersections of Death and Hip-Hop Cultures showed how those in the Deaf community connect to the hip-hop culture, replacing traditional rap lyrics with American Sign Language as a new avenue for expression.

Facility Design Award of Excellence

The Facility Design Award of Excellence recognizes outstanding and successful collaborations between architect and staff in the design of these buildings.

The 2013 Facility and Design Award recipients were:

  • Cannon Design, Tidewater Community College, Norfolk Campus Student Center
  • MHTN Architects, Boise State University, Student Union Building
  • MHTN Architects, Weber State University, Shepard Union
  • Shelpley Bulfinch, Hamline University, Carol Young Anderson and Dennis L. Anderson Center
  • WTW Architects, Louisiana State University, LSU Union
  • WTW Architects, Pennsylvania State University, Pattee Library Tombros & McWhirter Knowledge Commons

Individual Awards

Adell McMillan Memorial Scholarship
The Adell McMillan Memorial Scholarship was first given last year in memory of one of the first women to lead in the Association. Funds from the scholarship are to be used support the recipient’s leadership development. This year’s scholarship went to Reece Painter-Payne, Central Connecticut State University.

Affirmative Action Scholarship
The Association has made funds available for traditionally underrepresented staff to attend ACUI’s professional development programs. Applicants are required to have at least three years of professional experience, work at a member institution, and have not received this award in the previous two years. The 2013 Affirmative Action Scholarship recipient was Dirk Rodricks, University of Vermont.

Chester A. Berry Scholar Award for Excellence in Writing
Named for ACUI’s first executive director, this award recognizes outstanding writing the field of college unions and student activities. The 2013 winner was Kaitlyn Moran, North Carolina State University, for her article “Competencies Among New Professionals in the Union and Activities Field.”

Dissertation of the Year Award
Introduced in 2012, the Dissertation of the Year Award recognizes outstanding research conducted by a doctoral degree recipient presently in and intending to enter the profession. This year’s recipient was Kathy McIntosh for her dissertation “The Role of Mentoring in Identification and Selection of College Student Unions/Activities Careers.” McIntosh was awarded a doctor of education degree from Pepperdine University and is now an associate faculty member at Ashford University.

Earl Whitfield Regional Newsletter Award
This award recognizes volunteers who strive to keep all members of their region updated and convey the news of both the region and international Association through different forms of communication. The 2013 winner was Region 1.

Emeritus Award
Since 1994, the Emeritus Award has recognized college union and student activities professionals who are retiring. Nominees must have worked in the profession for at least 10 years and be retiring in the next year. The Association honored four individuals this year:

  • Dan Cornthwaite, San Diego State University
  • Charles Morrell, University of Connecticut
  • Gale Swanka, Bowling Green State University
  • Margaret Vos, St. Cloud State University

Gretchen Laatsch Scholarship
Gretchn Laastsh and her husband, Jim Switzer, created a scholarship for graduate student currently in the field or intending to enter the field. To receive this award, applicants must submit an article suitable for publication. This year’s recipient was Alicia Fitzgerald, University of Missouri, for her article "Competing Interests: How to Encourage Student Volunteerism without Sacrificing Employee Development."

Meg Sutton I-LEAD® Scholarship
The Meg Sutton I-LEAD® Scholarship recognizes a student who has overcome obstacles and challenges in their education and have a leadership role in their college union or student activities program. The 2013 recipient was Demontae Thompson, California State University–Northridge.

Revis A. Cox Memorial Award
This award was created as a tribute to Revis Cox and his contributions, commitment, creativity, and relentless support of multicultural education. Carole Desgroppes, University of California–Dominguez Hills, is an active ACUI member, has belonged to the Community of Practice for Multi-Ethnic Professionals and Allies for more than 10 years, and is working to advance dialogue on multiculturalism.

Steal this Idea Best of Show
Steal this Idea seeks the best in graphic design and marketing. Northwestern University student Judy Suh’s eye-catching and playful design for the “Smart Dillo” campaign reminded students to stay safe during an outdoor concert.

Download a PDF of this press release here.


Brian Magee
Educational Program Coordinator

About ACUI

Founded in 1914, ACUI serves those working in college unions and student activities on campuses worldwide. Its members include administrators, professional staff, student employees, student organization leaders, graduate students, and companies. 



For general inquiries about ACUI, please call 812.245.2284 or complete the online form below.