Posted September 20, 2016 by Benjamin Perlman 

The Community of Scholars and Cultivating Research

One of ACUI’s strategic directions in the 2016-18 strategic plan is to “Be a leader in college unions and student activities research, education, and advocacy.”

The Research Program Team serves to conduct and disseminate research in these areas, as well as to expand ACUI’s connections to faculty, graduate programs, and graduate students in order to further champion research into college unions and activities. The Community of Scholars connects scholar-practitioners and students by sharing resources, funding opportunities, tools, and creating discussion. Together, they strive to cultivate research and encourage members to think beyond their day-to-day work to address the many questions and issues college unions and higher education face today.

Members who engage in the Community of Scholars can cultivate research by sharing ideas and building partnerships amongst institutions. Professional staff rarely feel that they have enough time to conduct research, but you do not have to manage it alone in order to accomplish a research project. The Community of Scholars can assist members in brainstorming topics, provide leads for literature reviews, consult on data analysis, and other important functions of research. Members can also connect with each other to pursue research questions in partnerships or groups, thus sharing the load and making scholarly work more reasonable in conjunction with regular college union and activities work. Members collaborating in cross-institutional studies add data that are more likely to lead to valid conclusions that are applicable to the profession as a whole.

Already pursuing your own research project? The Research Program Team and Community of Scholars sponsor a Writer’s Support Group. Click here for more information on how to join. On the forum, you will also find resources on how to publish, pursue a doctorate, and other research-related topics. Want to do research but are searching for a topic? You can access ACUI’s research agenda for research questions that will provide you directions for inquiry. ACUI’s strategic plan focuses particularly on the impact of college unions on student recruitment, retention, engagement, satisfaction, and graduation rates. The ACUI Education and Research Fund offers research grants and awards that further the Association’s research agenda.

Discuss what your staff can do as a team to further research to support our profession. Staff that have recently completed a degree should not lose momentum now that they are back working full-time. How can their academic interests intersect with their work responsibilities? How can your team collectively carve out time to work on research? What data already exist or that you regularly collect could be examined more closely or in a different way? Many assessment programs and studies, with a little bit of scrutiny, could be repackaged and published as a research project. What unique service, program, or activity does your institution do that other institutions could use, and how could a research study support that claim?

Answers to any and all of these questions will help build on existing research on the college union profession.


Benjamin Perlman

Benjamin Perlman is the Director, Dobbs University Center at Emory University.

Ben serves as the director of the Dobbs University Center at Emory University. He has served in multiple roles on the Region III Leadership Team, currently as membership chair, a member of the Research Program Team, and leader of the Community of Scholars. He completed his undergraduate degree at Emory University, his master’s in higher education administration at Florida State University, and his Ph.D. in counseling and student personnel services from the University of Georgia.


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