JanFeb2016 Cover
Volume 84 | Issue 1
January/February 2016

From the President: Thanks For Taking A Chance

Sarah Aikman

Sarah (left) and Ann Claussen (right)Twenty-one years ago Ann Claussen took a chance on a young, eager new professional and hired her for her first job as a program advisor for the Union Program Council at the Kansas State University Student Union. That young, eager professional was me.

As a new professional, I could not have asked for a better boss. Ann was amazing! She taught me how to read and balance my budget, advise students, develop my skills as a mentor, and think creatively. She had high expectations of her staff and students, and provided me with an opportunity to become involved with ACUI. After a career that has spanned four institutions and 30-plus years in the field, Ann retired in December 2015. Prior to her retirement, I had the chance to spend some quality time with her as she reflected on her years in the profession and showed me around the union that made a tremendous impact on her life, as an undergraduate student and later as a staff member for two decades.

As Ann and I talked about her career highlights, foremost on that list was the staffs with which she has worked: outstanding people who have a passion for the college union, student activities, and college student development. Together we have worked hard, played hard, and have loved every minute of it. 

Students were also a prominent part of Ann’s career. She loved to see students’ zeal for the student union and campus activities. It was amazing to see the shy, quiet student come into their own from being involved in the union, she said. Serving as a teacher, mentor, leader, and in some ways a second mom to the students was a truly rewarding experience. 

Ann’s ACUI involvement was also a career highlight. Undoubtedly, she has cherished the professional networks, volunteer opportunities, and friendships she made through the Association. Like it has for many of us, ACUI provided a support system of professionals who could assist her in challenges she faced back on her home campus.

Ann has been involved with student activities throughout her career. She is a programmer and event planner at heart. One of Ann’s favorite programs was College Bowl, which gave students who had a love of knowledge a chance to compete. It was exciting to see students’ enthusiasm when they were recognized for their “athletic ability” in the quiz bowl field. Ann worked with this program for six years and always served as a moderator during the annual conference’s Battle of the Regions. 

Another of Ann’s favorite programs was the homecoming parade at Moravian College. The work the students would put into developing banners and floats around the yearly theme was inspiring. The energy on campus during the parade was contagious. To see the alumni come back to the campus, interact with their affinity groups, and reminisce about the old days made for a good weekend year after year. 

At Indiana University, Ann was able to work with the student committee that brought the major lectures to campus. Some of those special guests included Tom Wolfe, Maya Angelou, Beverly Sills, and Arthur Ashe. These events provided students a chance to develop planning, advertising, and public speaking skills. Ann enjoyed watching the students who had worked so hard planning these events have the opportunity to interact one on one with these special guests. 

One of Ann’s fondest memories was when she got to drive Richard Gere around Bloomington, Ind., in her green Plymouth Duster! She remembers Gere as being friendly and engaging with the students who hosted him during his visit with the Dalai Lama.

The program board retreats we held at Kansas State University helped develop the student as a whole. The focus was not only on being a program board member but also a campus leader. As a group, we came together and pledged our commitment to the program board and to providing the campus with great programs. This retreat was a hands-on experience that brought together individual students who became a cohesive group ready to wow the KSU campus with programs and events.

In closing, I asked Ann for her final thoughts. She stated: “I have worked with fabulous students and staff over the years. I would do it over again in a heartbeat and remember never to take yourself too seriously and have a sense of humor!” 

Ann, thanks for taking a chance on me 21 years ago and for always being there throughout the years to help me grow and develop as a professional. Your friendship and mentorship have meant the world to me. Thank you for making an impact on the students at Gettysburg College, Indiana University, Kansas State University, and Moravian College. Enjoy your retirement with your husband, Dick (who you met in the Indiana Memorial Union), and remember you truly have influenced many people over the years.