Joseph H. Benedict Jr. Social Change Award for Racial Justice

The purpose of the Joseph H. Benedict Jr. Social Change Award for Racial Justice is to recognize a member institution that develops an outstanding social justice program that stimulates conversation and action among its campus constituents. Honoring Benedict's commitment to social justice and inclusion, the recipient institution will receive a financial award to honor their work in engaging the campus and community in conversations, and developing strategies for institutional change that address and help alleviate racial injustices. 


All ACUI member institutions are eligible to apply for this award. Eligible programs must:
  • Have been initiated within the past three years; 
  • Have been implemented at a current ACUI member institution; 
  • Be submitted by an applicant who agrees to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published.


The review process includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of the criteria listed below.
  • Degree to which social justice issues/incidents are articulated and desired goals/outcomes are identified
  • Awareness campaign for the program
  • Effort and success in creating campus dialogue on racial injustice and solutions
  • Program participation, including the number and breadth of constituencies engaged
  • Action plan for creating change
  • Impact of program/action plan, or policy change/long-term commitment achieved

Joseph H BenedictAbout Joseph H. Benedict Jr.

As the “Black Lives Matter” movement stimulated considerable discussion about blatant and subtle racial injustices toward people of color, Joseph H. Benedict Jr. noted the polarization that currently exists on college campuses, in the United States, and around the world, and that leadership is needed to develop and implement educational forums to discuss these challenging social issues. Through a generous gift from Benedict in 2016, this award was created to celebrate campus initiatives that stimulate conversation and develop action strategies for policy change that will address acts of bigotry and alleviate the injustice(s) identified.

A long-time ACUI member and volunteer, Benedict served as a regional director, chair for various committees, vice president for regional affairs, and on the Board of Trustees before becoming president in 1986. His career in higher education administration spans nearly 50 years, most recently serving as executive director of the student center at CUNY–Brooklyn College before his retirement in 2008. Benedict’s contributions to the college union and student activities field, as well as to the Association, were honored with the ACUI Butts-Whiting Award in 1994. He has been a mainstay of Region 3 and VII conferences for decades.

Nomination information

Please submit nominations online by completing the Joseph H. Benedict Jr. Social Change Award for Racial Justice nomination form to include the items listed below. Self-nominations are encouraged.

  • Name, title, institution, and contact information of the primary contact for the program
  • Name, title, institution, and contact information of nominator (if different)
  • A summary of the program, addressing: 
    • Program name and description
    • Goals and desired outcomes of the program
    • Results, evaluation, and impact of the program
  • Supporting documentation of the program. This could include photos, promotional materials, campaign information, etc. that directly support the program. 

This year's nomination deadline has closed for this award, which will be presented at the 2017 annual conference. 

Selection and presentation

Nominations will receive written or electronic notification confirming their receipt. The ACUI awards committee, appointed annually by the ACUI president, will review the applications to determine a recipient. One recipient will be chosen; one physical award will be given to the winning institution. The recipient institution will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference.

Updated Jan. 7, 2017