Volume 77 | Issue 3
May 2009

2009 Annual Conference: Bob Rodda honored with Butts-Whiting Award

At ACUI’s 89th annual conference, past president Neil Gerard presented the 2009 Butts-Whiting Award to Bob Rodda, the director of the Lowry Student Center, Student Activities, and Summer Programs at The College of Wooster.
“Many of us in this room are indebted to our recipient for professional commitment, for perseverance, and for the willingness to take on our association in pursuing important initiatives and pushing us to reach our goals,” Gerard told conference delegates.
The Butts-Whiting Award is the highest honor the Association gives, and its recipient remains a secret until the award presentation during the closing banquet. The Butts-Whiting Award, named after union legends Porter Butts and Edgar Whiting, recognizes the outstanding leaders in ACUI who have made significant contributions in college unions and student activities.
“I was introduced to the Butts-Whiting Award early in my career,” Rodda said. “At my first conference I roomed with Ed Siggelkow when he won the award. The award is a wonderful compliment to the contributions that I have tried to make.”
One of Rodda’s significant contributions has been his commitment to growing the profession. Gerard quoted one of the nominators, saying Rodda is “overwhelmingly supportive and especially helpful in guiding and directing emerging professionals with career choices.”
Notably, the Region 7 New Professionals Award is named in his honor. As a regional volunteer, Rodda has served as the College Bowl coordinator, regional conference host director, and member of several conference planning committees. At the international level, he has most recently been ACUI’s liaison to the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education and participated in the revision of the College Union and Campus Activities standards. Additionally, he has presented at numerous conferences and has raised an estimated $10,000 for the Association and ACUI Education and Research Fund. Throughout his career, Rodda is perhaps best known as an indefatigable advocate for small colleges, founding the Small College Network and ensuring its continuation through the Small School Community of Practice.
In his speech, Gerard cited colleagues who had called Rodda a “community builder, a leader in student affairs, and a partnership-builder who always has the best interests of students in mind.”
Rodda said mentorship is an important part of being a student affairs professional.
“When I was a student at Kansas State, our Vice President for Student Affairs Chester Peters (one of my mentors) had taken up woodcarving as a hobby. … One piece that he made remains appropriate. The figure was a slender, elegant, beautiful human figure with arms outstretched to the sky. … The composition of the sculpture was unusual and symbolic: Over half of it came from a beam on the Peters’ farm and reflected family background and influences on the individual. The rest was a combination of many chips, bits, and pieces of other kinds of woods (oak, ash, walnut, cedar, etc.). These pieces symbolized the influences of other people on the individual’s development … [and it] reflects my ACUI involvement. … As I have benefited from the contributions and influences of others, I hope that I might be a ‘chip of wood’ in the elegant figure of those with whom I work.”
Rodda began his student affairs career nearly 40 years ago as an undergraduate at Kansas State University elected to the position of Student Senate vice chairperson. After spending a year in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, he then pursued a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Minnesota and went on to work at five institutions before arriving at Wooster in 1990.
Recalling he was “stunned, shocked, surprised” to have won the award, Rodda said, “I’m humbled and honored to be in the company of the profession’s giants.”