Volume 79 | Issue 5
September 2011

President's Column: Reflections on the  Leadership Team Meeting

Thomas Lane

Ever since I was a teenager and discovered the thrill and freedom an automobile can provide, I have enjoyed long drives in my car. As I was making the three-hour drive home from the prestigious and historic Indiana Memorial Union where I had just spent a wonderful four days with several talented, creative, and passionate ACUI staff and volunteers at the annual July Leadership Team meeting, I had the chance to relax and reflect on how fortunate I am as our Association’s president to have the privilege of working with such a tremendous group of people. Traveling across Indiana’s gentle, rolling fields, I thought about how proud I was to be part of an association that has meant so much to me, both personally and professionally.

For those unfamiliar with the annual Leadership Team meeting, this ACUI tradition brings together volunteer leaders (i.e., Board of Trustees members, the regional directors, Education Council members, and other board-appointed volunteers) and Central Office staff members to meet and discuss issues not only important for their respective component group, but also relevant for the entire Association. It’s a time for meeting or reconnecting and building a sense of team with other ACUI volunteers, a time to spend in intensive, substantive discussion about Association issues and opportunities, and a time to reflect on what’s been accomplished and what yet needs to be done. One of our volunteers, Suzi Halpin from University of Central Florida, affectionately refers to the Leadership Team meeting as “ACUI Summer Camp”—an analogy that brings a smile to me. I have to confess that as an active ACUI volunteer, I have lost count of how many times I have made this pilgrimage to Bloomington, Ind., but I know I have left each meeting with a renewed sense of commitment to our association and re-energized about being a college union professional.

As I continued driving east on an Indiana state highway toward Illinois, seeing the sun shine across the emerald green rows of cornfields and feeling like I was traveling back in time with the sight of stately courthouse squares in quaint downtowns, my mind drifted through what we as a Leadership Team had accomplished during our time together. As a large group, we committed to visually tracking progress on the ACUI 2011–15 strategic plan by using a common matrix brought to us by Board of Trustees Member Jerry Mann; we engaged in dialogue with the regional directors and provided feedback on the important work of evaluating our current regional structure and offerings; and we learned more about the progress being made on the topic of professional certification from Certification Task Force Chair Bobby Woodard. Board of Trustees Member Willie Banks shared data gleaned from his work on ACUI diversity and inclusion, and we were updated on such exciting Central Office initiatives as the ACUI website revamping and the updating of “The College Union Idea” publication. Presentations on ACUI’s 100th anniversary and upcoming annual conferences generated much enthusiasm and excitement for these Association milestones. These are but a few examples of the important work being done by volunteers and Central Office staff as we move ACUI forward, and more information about these initiatives will be shared in upcoming articles and member communications.

Driving down the highway, relaxed and reflective, I couldn’t help but think about one of our Association’s stated core values: “joy.” I have to confess when I first saw joy listed as an ACUI core value, the cynical side of me chuckled a bit. I wondered at the time what connection “joy” had with my role as a college union professional and thought the word’s inclusion would cause others outside the Association to scoff. I don’t think that anymore. Just like the joy I felt the first time I experienced the freedom of taking my car on a drive, with the windows down and the radio playing my favorite song, spending quality time with other ACUI volunteers and staff members and working hard together to create and maintain the premier association for college union and student activities professionals brings the same exhilarating emotion—joy. My hope and wish is that your ACUI involvement also brings such a gift.