Posted January 24, 2017 by Benjamin Perlman and Amy Wilson 

Recap: ACUI’s Virtual Research Day

Virtual Research Day: Nov. 30, 2016As part of ACUI’s strategic direction to be recognized as “the leading expert and vital resource of information and new models of campus community building,” the Research Program Team sponsored a Virtual Research Day on Nov. 30, 2016 to provide a free, public series of discussions about college union research.

The day started with a Twitter meetup that broadly discussed research within the college union and activities. Participants discussed their opinions on research priorities for ACUI members, how they made time to pursue scholarship while working/going to school, and how to use research in work settings. Participants examined how unions can work with nontraditional students, how to continually refine the definition of community building for the modern age, and challenges faced by ACUI members in conducting research.

The feature keynote for the day was presented by Dr. Carney Strange, professor Emeritus from Bowling Green State University and co-author of Designing for Learning: Creating Campus Environments for Student Success. Dr. Strange enhanced our understanding of the campus ecology model and its utility in intentionally designing and creating campus unions and physical spaces that enhance student learning, inclusiveness, safety, and engagement. His visual presentation provided concrete examples of old and new college union spaces that have shaped student behaviors and facilitate an environment of learning.

A conversation with several professionals in the field who have recently completed doctoral research on the college union followed Dr. Strange’s presentation, specifically focusing on the physical space and its impact on community building, student engagement and satisfaction, and meaning making. If you are interested in learning more about their research, you can access their full dissertations. Special thanks to Amy Wilson, Ph.D., assistant professor at Buffalo State College, for moderating this discussion.

Next, Kate Beaulieu from Texas Christian University moderated a panel discussion on “Pursuing your doctorate: Considerations for college union practitioners,” where ACUI members Justin Camputaro, Meaghan Davidson, Kim Haines, and Joseph Hayes discussed their pursuits of a doctorate, be it full-time, part-time, on campus, or remotely. Attendees were able to ask questions and seek perspective on next steps for their own journeys in furthering their education.

The Virtual Research Day concluded with a series of virtual poster sessions on important topics to college unions and student activities. Presenters illustrated studies they conducted on topics such as measuring a sense of on-campus community, digital technology use by higher education administrators, creating purposeful space, college union history, transfer students’ utilization of college union facilities, and student development in the bounds of student employment. These segments highlighted the many directions to pursue within the ACUI Research Agenda.


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.

Amy Wilson

Amy Wilson is the Assistant Professor, Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration Program at SUNY–Buffalo State College.

Serving as a faculty in the HESAA program, Amy’s research interests surround multicultural competence and inclusive supervision practices. She previously worked in student activities and leadership programs. She holds a bachelor’s from Colorado State University, a master’s from Western Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University at Buffalo.


Note: To post a comment to The Commons, you must login to the ACUI website.
about the commons
The Commons is the online hub to discover new ideas and learn what is going on in the college union and student activities profession.
more ...
about the contributors

Meet the ACUI members who have volunteered to share their knowledge and insights as regular authors in The Commons.

more ...