Association News

Successful IPDS Bodes Well for Second Year at Wisconsin
September 5, 2016


From June 13–17, 34 participants joined colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for IPDS: New Professionals Orientation. While the program consistently receives high ratings, for the second year in a row all participants who responded to the evaluation said they would recommend IPDS to others, felt their expectations were met or exceeded, and were able to build a professional network. Additionally, all will consider sending participants to future sessions of the program, which will again be held at Wisconsin in 2017.

On the evaluation one participant said: “The program is a great way for new professionals to get a sense of the career path, as well as create a cohort of other young professionals they can reach out to outside of their organization.”

IPDS is ACUI’s oldest professional development program, dating back to 1967. This was the first time it was held at the University of Wisconsin, and the host school sent four participants.

The curriculum is grounded in research that indicates new professionals need training in supervision, assessment, budgeting, and legal issues. Participants gave the IPDS presenters and content addressed “excellent” ratings of 4.2 and 4.0 out of 5.0 respectively. A favorite among participants was the workshop on careers in college unions, facilitated by ACUI CEO John Taylor, who worked in college union and student activities for many years.

“So grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and learn from such an accomplished and experienced professional in the field,” one attendee said on the evaluation. “John’s session was my favorite. It was so engaging and enjoyable while being informative. John should definitely continue this session at future IPDS conferences.”

This year’s faculty also included some new faces, such as Stephanie Webendorfer, social media community manager at the University of Wisconsin, who led the workshop on staying relevant when your target audience never ages.

“Best session of the whole conference,” said one participant. “Real, authentic, and extremely applicable. I walked away with a lot of information to provide to my department.”

Additional topics included trends in higher education, a panel on diversity issues, building operations, supervision, and innovation in the college union. The final session of IPDS featured a panel of union and activities professionals who shared their career paths and answered attendees’ questions. The panelists were Timothy Bank$, director of the Office of Event Services at the University of Chicago; Mark Guthier, director of the Wisconsin Union at the University of Wisconsin–Madison; Cara Rubis, director of the University Center at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls; Rick Thomas, director of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Union; and Neal Wucherer, director of the Alumni Memorial Union at Marquette University.

Comments from participants included:
“It was good that this was in a panel discussion and we were able to hear from directors from different walks of life to see that we can establish a career.”

“I learned that there is not one way of reaching your career goals but many decisions and influential steps you should take to reaching your goal.”

“It is refreshing to know that I can work my way up in the union as a woman and still be successful and respected.”

In addition to speed sharing, a fast-paced innovation exchange that has become a mainstay of IPDS, attendees appreciated a “Best of Speed Sharing” that allowed everyone to vote on and hear more about the favorite ideas from the week. Additionally, individuals were asked to create a short video prior to the seminar—such as a facility tour, software demonstration, or program overview—and then shared them with each other.

Participants were able to tour the recently renovated Union South as well as the completed portions and the portions still under renovation at Memorial Union. Individuals also had options to tour the football stadium or participate in community service.

One of the highlights of the program was the location at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the hospitality of the Wisconsin staff. One person summed up their experience with: “IPDS was great! Not only was it held on a beautiful campus that showed off many opportunities for student and professional staff, it also allowed me an opportunity to get to know ACUI even better. I came back to work feeling refreshed and full of new and improved ideas on how to make my student union and department even better! It was great to interact with other professionals in the field and learn from each other. We’re all still communicating through GroupMe and sharing new ideas/recommendations/insight and general fun which is great!”



Elizabeth Beltramini
Director of Communications

About ACUI

Founded in 1914, ACUI serves those working in college unions and student activities on campuses worldwide. Its members include administrators, professional staff, student employees, student organization leaders, graduate students, and companies. 



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