There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.
Volume 73 | Issue 3
May 2005

Reno in Review: A look at the risks and rewards experienced at ACUI's 85th annual conference

Thanks to EBI, ACUI conducted a comprehensive evaluation of this year’s annual conference. In the past, evaluations were distributed during the closing banquet, collected, and then painstakingly processed over a several-month period. This year, ACUI conducted the evaluation online—and received a 58 percent response rate! While the evaluation provided data on every aspect of the conference, when asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the conference on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being very dissatisfied and 5 being very satisfied), the mean score was 4.13.

Delegates also were given the opportunity to respond to several open-ended questions. Some were critical—the dates were inconvenient, the casino hampered networking, or traveling to Reno was a challenge. But by far the comments were overwhelmingly positive, particularly about the educational sessions. One delegate speaks for many by saying, “I thought the overall quality of the sessions (content, numbers, and variety) were some of the best I have seen in years.”

The evaluation also provided some interesting demographic information. Of the 450 responses, almost one-third reported working in the profession five years or less, almost 45 percent reported having attended three or fewer ACUI annual conferences, and only 53 percent reported that they had attended the annual conference last year. Ninety-eight percent of the respondents reported attending the ACUI Expo, and approximately 80 percent reported attending the keynote presentations. When asked to their primary area of responsibility among ACUI’s four competency areas, 29 percent identified Administration, Finance, and Management; 4 percent as Auxiliary Services; 36 percent as Campus Life and Program Management; and 29 percent as Facilities and Operations.

What follows is a review of some of the primary events and programmatic components during the 2005 annual conference.

Brian O’Malley — Personal/Individual risks and rewards

Some might say that Brian O’Malley—former police officer, SWAT team member, paramedic/firefighter, mountain rescue team member, and climber of Mt. Everest—was born with a few extra ounces of courage than the average person. He would argue the opposite is true.

“We have all have risks and we all have fears associated with those risks,” O’Malley told ACUI delegates during his annual conference keynote presentation. “I believe that when your passion exceeds those risks you find courage.”

Throughout his address, O’Malley wove anecdotes from his experiences saving lives as well as his own personal quest to climb Mt. Everest. He said from these experiences, he had come to realize that life is too short to avoid risks and miss reaping their rewards.

O’Malley began his keynote by discussing the relativity of risks. He asked delegates whether they would cliff-dive into the ocean from a height of 5 feet, 10 feet, up to 50 feet. However, then he asked how many would be willing to dive from 50 feet if they could win $1 million, tax-free. Many people raised their hands. He then altered the equation again with the factor that a loved one needed a medical procedure that would cost $1 million. Obviously, many said they would take the risk of diving from 50 feet.

“Did the risk change?” O’Malley asked. “No, but your passion behind that risk did. Your reward around that risk did.”

He then told delegates to consider the sentence, “If I had more courage, I would ____.”

He said, for him, a lifelong desire was to climb Mt. Everest, and while that might sound like an impressive goal only for the extremely driven, he challenged delegates: “I passionately believe that if you do more things, you will find more talents,” he said.

O’Malley recounted how after training for two years, he set off for Nepal in preparation to climb the world’s tallest mountain. He said he was impressed by the Sherpas and their ever-present desire to serve others. Joking that they gave union professionals a run for their money, he said: “Sherpas are hard-working, they’re humble, they’re honest, yet they’ll laugh at all your jokes whether they understand them or not.” He said the Sherpas greet everyone by clasping their hands together, bowing, and saying: “Namaste,” which means “I salute everything that is good, that’s divine within you.”

In fact, the Sherpas stayed with O’Malley round the clock to comfort him when he unexpectedly developed viral meningitis just before he was due to leave for his trek up the mountain. It seemed that after so much preparation O’Malley would not be well enough to continue his climb.

O’Malley said: “There are times in your life ... just like on the mountain where you’ll feel all alone. Mt. Everest is very much like life. Life is very much like this grand adventure. It’s an expedition. It’s a series of extremes. It’s where stock is up, we have our health, money in the bank, life is good. And then the storms kick in.”

Before his team left Katmandu to go on to Everest without him, there was a going-away party. O’Malley said several famous people were there, including actor Carrie Fisher. She had heard O’Malley was ill and asked if there was anything she could do to help. She ended up taking him on her plane to Bangkok, Thailand, and caring for him until he regained his health.

O’Malley told delegates that “none of us reach our summits without standing on the shoulders of a whole bunch of other people.”

Knowing his team would be moving slowly on their four-month expedition up the mountain, he thought that by traveling solo he might be able to move more quickly and catch up with them, albeit without the team’s stock of food and supplies. O’Malley said that at that point, having just recovered from illness, “No one would have faulted me if I had turned back. But people don’t judge us by what happens to us; they judge us by what we do about it.”

Ultimately, he was able to catch up with his teammates and he reached the summit. But O’Malley urged delegates to realize that they each have courage within them to tackle the risks they choose.

O’Malley said he works with the Make a Wish Foundation to help terminally ill children’s dreams come true. “Believe me, when you look into the eyes of a young child as they share with you their last wish, it puts this whole goofy thing we call life in perspective.” He said even though the children he works with know they are going to die, they still have positive attitudes and look at life as a gift.

“And if those kids can look at their mountains with such courage, you and I can do something too,” O’Malley said. “... We’re going to have some missed opportunities. Your mountain looks different than mine. Your risks are different than mine. But I am confident our fears are very much the same. ... Have a wish, have a passionate something in your life. So, with ice ax in hand, join me in climbing Mt. Everest.”

O’Malley ended his address by returning to the sentence he’d originally asked delegates to ponder: “I have a wish for you. ... Answer that question: ‘If had more courage I would _____.’ Choose a mountain to climb, a mountain that is uniquely yours that grabs your passion as you push past the fears. ... Take the risks that are important to you, and this one is key: Promise yourself that you will make a difference in the life of someone else. You have my respect. The mountain is waiting. Namaste.”

Susan Komives – Risks and rewards in the profession

Susan Komives, associate professor of counseling and personnel services at the University of Maryland–College Park, is a former president of the American College Personnel Association, former vice president for student development at Stephen College, and a recipient of an ACPA research award for her studies of leadership development. During the annual conference she shared with ACUI delegates the risks and rewards of the union and activities profession in looking to the future.

In line with the conference theme, Komives bookended her address with the concept of seeing challenges and threats as opportunities. She said risk-taking is a “21st century skill” and that we need to shift from being risk managers, “seeking safety and control,” to risk leaders, valuing “nimbleness and adaptability.”

The union must take the risk to go beyond the role it’s traditionally served, Komives said; “The new role of the union on campus is more than the living room, it’s more than the hearthstone, it’s more than the community center or gathering place, it’s more than Main Street. We should do those metaphors and we do them very well. But what I would suggest to you and what your ACUI strategic plan and ACUI literature and materials absolutely say that is right on—and I want to affirm that for you—are two things: One is unions need to be a unifying force for the whole campus and secondly be an integral part of the mission of the institution.”

More specifically, Komives said, achieving this new reality means shifting our paradigm “from just being the scene of community to being an active, driving, unifying force of community across the whole campus. From being a place where great programs are offered to students ... to part of the curriculum, intentional learning experiences that contribute to intentional and thoughtful college outcomes.” Komives elaborated: “Some of the slight paradigm shift means going from customer service ... to seeing that as a contribution to recruitment, retention, and enhancing student satisfaction.”

Komives then went on to describe the “hedgehog” concept of being the best at one specific thing. She said while “there are many things unions are best at,” two things stand out at which unions are better than any other entity on campus. “I want you to see them in this way because you can give leadership to the whole institution as some things that you do very well that aren’t going very well in other places and we need your talent to help us do that,” Komives said. “One of those is to design intentional learning experiences for students that have intentional learning outcomes.” She said the student learning opportunities found in unions coincide with what the ACPA study she worked on identified as clusters of outcomes most colleges have (e.g., cognitive complexity, civic learning).

In particular, she said unions are “educationally powerful with your student employment.” Komives said ACUI is the only higher education association with a publication on student employment, and unions can be leaders in teaching other departments on campus how to train students, create leadership opportunities for longevity in a position, and model developmental supervision. She suggested union professionals “form a coalition for meaningful student employment” across the campus.

The “second hedgehog concept is your core purpose,” Komives said, “... and that’s to assume the leadership in advancing campus community.” She said union professionals cannot think of campus community building as “only when you’re in my building,” rather they “need to be our campus leaders for what community building means across the campus,” meaning those in the profession need to advocate “for community everywhere you go.” She compared this to campus health professionals’ role in not only treating students who visit the health center, but also advocating for wellness issues every time a new policy is adopted on campus or a project is initiated.

Komives said that to be successful in the future, higher education professionals would need to ask themselves three questions: “How are you like no one else here?” “How are you like some others here?” and “The challenge for the 21st century is: How are we like everyone else here?” She discussed the importance of working collectively smarter, reflectively smarter, and spiritually smarter. She said community builders could be an active force in helping higher education reach this goal. “Community has often been thought of just as a place,” Komives said, “but it’s far more; it’s a spirit, it’s a lens for how we view our relationships. How am I connected to everyone here and how can I begin a community with these other people? And advocating for that message is the challenge for you.”

Marsha Herman-Betzen – Risks and rewards in the Association

During ACUI Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen’s keynote address on the last day of the conference, delegates were treated to her perspective on risks and rewards within the Association’s past five years.

“In response to the prospect of becoming an aging organization, ACUI embarked on a massive initiative beginning in 1998 that resulted in philosophical, operational, and financial change,” Herman-Betzen said. “With the help of consultants, ACUI conducted an Association-wide needs assessment, took part in an extensive external review, and developed a roadmap in the form of a five-year strategic plan.”

Herman-Betzen said much changed during the process including refocusing the Association’s philosophy of how its programs and services are organized to support union and activities professionals. “Our focus changed with our primary purpose becoming competency based—centering programs and services on the skills needed to be successful in a college union and student activities job instead of the demographic make-up of the institution or individual,” she said.

Creating this operational shift required modifying not only Association policies and procedures, but also its governing documents. “Operationally, five major infrastructures in the areas of membership, finance, programs and services, governance, and work force resulted in unprecedented change with the passage of 28 constitution and bylaw changes which were approved by not less than 70 percent of the membership,” Herman-Betzen said. Additionally, the Association needed to reorganize to dues structure to continue paying for even the most fundamental member benefits. She said: “The final step in the reinvention process was restructuring the dues in hopes of enabling ACUI to fund the future, based on the Association’s strategic plan.”

Herman-Betzen then outlined her assessment of what the Association had done well in the past five years and what had not worked. “So, what in my estimation did we get right?” she said, continuing:

  • First and foremost, we have become a knowledge-based organization. ...
  • Our governance structure has become far more nimble, efficient, and effective. ...
  • Voting now takes place for the Board of Trustees. ...
  • The restructuring of the dues created a significantly larger base of individual members. In 2001, the membership voted to change the dues structure to include individual membership with the institutional dues based on the number of professional staff. ... Not only has this resulted in a larger customer base, it has given these member institution staff and students the right to vote and serve in leadership positions.
  • The role of the Board of Trustees has become better defined. Instead of micromanaging, the Board of Trustees has redirected its work to focus on strategic direction, fiduciary responsibility, governance, and the hiring and evaluation of the executive director.
  • The increased development of strong relationships with our corporate partners. ... What is important to understand is that sponsorships, advertising, associate membership, and the ACUI Expo is much stronger both financially and programmatically because of ACUI Procure.
  • The creation of the ACUI Foundation.

So, what did we get almost right or probably wrong?

  • We did not anticipate the unforeseen, the “what-if” [Sept. 11]. ...
  • Following 9/11 and in response to the poor state of the economy, we lost our momentum in communicating and reinforcing the factors that had been driving the reinvention. ...
  • We had unrealistic expectations that focused on our ability to change the culture overnight. ...
  • We were unable to clearly articulate or institutionalize the change from committees to Communities. ...
  • Erroneous assumptions were being made that blocked the new vision. ...

Herman-Betzen then named some of the “erroneous assumptions” and discussed why they were incorrect or based on misinformation:

  • ACUI Procure is a losing proposition that is sapping our resources, which is the real reason the dues are being raised. Just the opposite is true. ... Both the gross and net income from these areas have increased dramatically since the start of ACUI Procure. In fact, this has become one of the Associations primary profit centers.
  • The Association is in such dire straits financially it has to cancel longtime programs like the Indiana Professional Development Seminar. ... Programs and services which aren’t meeting the financial expectation are then evaluated to see if they are crucial to our mission. This means that some programs and services may be eliminated, some may be modified in content or frequency, or some may be continued with the conscious decision that they are subsidized by other areas. ... Last year we decided not to have IPDS based on low attendance numbers the previous two years.
  • All of our money is going to hire more staff in the Central Office. ... The Central Office staff is actually down one FTE from three years ago. Since the beginning of the reinvention, the focus and the nature of several positions in the office have changed to better serve the Association’s needs. In addition, the Central Office proactively worked to reduce expenses including benefit reductions, wage freezes, and, at times, eliminating professional development. ...
  • If we had such a good year financially in 2004, why did we have to raise dues? An important realization was made during the reinvention process: The membership dues did not come anywhere close to covering the cost of the basic existence of the Association. ... Based on the recommendations of the Strategic Process Core Team, the membership approved a three-year dues increase four years ago to put the Association where it needs to be to ensure future success. The Board of Trustees delayed the full implementation of this increase due to the sudden changes in the economy. Realizing that this has only put us further behind, beginning this year the Board of Trustees decided to fully implement the strategic changes which had been planned. ...
  • A smaller portion of members from two-year and community colleges participate in ACUI programs compared to their representation in the membership. Over 12 percent of ACUI’s institutional membership is from community colleges. Eight percent of professional members and 13 percent of student members represent two-year and community colleges. We find at least these same percentages when we look at who participates in ACUI programs and services.
  • ACUI programs and services should not make money. I need to remind everyone (one more time) that “not-for-profit” is a description of our Association’s tax status not our business philosophy.
  • ACUI’s conference registration is more expensive than everyone else’s. Associations like ACUI, ACUHO-I, and NACAS include some meals and have similar registration fees. Other perceivably less expensive conferences like NASPA, ACPA, and NACA don’t include meals in their fees. You still have to eat, and including meals with the registration fee lowers the hotel room rates making ACUI’s conference generally on par or less expensive than other conferences. More importantly ... what matters most to ACUI is the opportunity to reconnect with one another around the dinner table.
  • To achieve the same stature with our sister associations, we need to move ACUI’s Central Office to Washington, D.C. ... I think we need to ask ourselves two questions as we begin our strategic discussions: How much does the mission of ACUI relate to the federal government? How much money can ACUI afford to spend on maintaining a Washington infrastructure?
  • The large rate of turnover in the Central Office is having a negative impact on the Association. According to the Labor Department Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.5 years is the average time workers are spending with their current employer. Staff turnover is a reality of today’s work force.

In looking to the creation of the Association’s next five-year strategic plan, Herman-Betzen outlined some issues she thought should be addressed:

  • How can a framework be developed to help create a sustainable and long-term diversity approach for the profession and our Association?
  • What effect will generational differences have on our future?
  • What business are we really in? What are the steps in developing the ACUI brand? How many of you can honestly say that your parents or neighbors understand what you do for a living?
  • How will we combine our need for data and our access to technology?
  • What is needed to help refocus and enhance a new and improved vision of Communities?
  • How will we grow future leaders?
  • What process needs to be developed to operationalize the core competencies over the four Education Councils?
  • What will be the process and timeline in creating a succession plan to replace the retiring executive director?
  • Are we in a better position post-9/11 to face the what-if?
  • And finally, how will we position ourselves to have the necessary financial resources to guarantee the Association’s long-term stability and support the new strategic plan?

Herman-Betzen’s keynote was well-received and she encouraged ACUI members to take an active role in providing input on what should be included in the next strategic plan.

Fact: Bernard Pitts wins 2005 Butts-Whiting Award

Bernard Pitts, executive director of the Kansas State University Student Union, received the 2005 Butts-Whiting Award during the Closing Banquet of the annual conference.

Patrick Bailey, executive director of the Campus Center and Cultural Programs at the University of Southern California, presented the award. Bailey joked about Butts-Whiting Bingo, a game conference delegates invented years ago after hearing so many awards presentations that used the same adjectives to describe the winners. He said this year they were going to play the ultimate bingo: Fact or Crap. While it was crap that the 2005 honoree had climbed Mt. Everest or starred in the movie “Dodgeball,” the honoree had demonstrated leadership and continued support of the college ideal.

Bailey said Pitts “asks the hard questions when they need to be asked and challenges the status quo along the way.” One of his nominators said Pitts is “one of those rare individuals that has vision, talent, good judgment, a sense of humor, and an excellent personal style.”

Pitts has worked on six campuses through the United States and Pitts started volunteering with ACUI in the recreation programs areas. He then volunteered in leadership roles with the College Bowl program, Honda Campus All Star Challenge, Community on Multi-Ethnic Programs, nominations committee, research committee, and eventually ACUI president in 1996.

After all of this, he wanted to do more and applied to be on the 2004 Conference Program Team. Bailey said: “As the conference chair in Washington, D.C, I was a little intimidated about asking this person to serve on the committee, with their extensive list of Association and community participation and having already served as the president of the Association, I wasn’t sure how that would mix with people who were having their very first volunteer experience. And I wasn’t too sure how I would lead someone who, in my mind had already ‘been there and done all that.’ But from our very first meeting this person touched everyone on it.”

Bailey said Pitts came up with the “Sharing Our Stories” theme and “set the tone, tenor, and essence of last year’s conference.” Bailey continued: “He probably doesn’t describe himself as a public storyteller, but he’s appreciative of our stories and works hard to create community in the sphere of his influence. I’m extremely happy to add another chapter to the life story of a person that has already enriched the lives of so many, including myself. I’m happy to award the Association of College Unions International Butts-Whiting Award to the ever-stylish, the ever-caring, the storyteller from Kansas State University, Bernard ‘Bernie’ Pitts.”

A video of congratulations sent from Pitts’ wife and staff at Kansas State was then played before Pitts gave his acceptance speech. In accepting the award, Pitts thanked colleagues and friends who had touched his life throughout the years.

He said he met George Stevens at his first ACUI conference and Stevens gave him the opportunity to visit Florida State University and see in action the mission of the college union profession. Stevens also later forced Pitts to go to graduate school, an accomplishment Pitts said he never would have imagined years before.

Although she was not present at the conference, Pitts said of friend Patrice Coleman-Boatwright; “All of us have those individuals who we call upon when we need someone for feedback, or someone who can be a shoulder to lay your head on, or someone who can laugh with you when you’re joyous,” he said. “And I’ve had that opportunity with Pat Coleman-Boatwright over the years.”

Pitts then thanked his wife and son for building a home and being supportive of his career throughout their moves to various institutions across the United States.

To end his speech, Pitts left delegates with some words of advice; “For those of you who maybe this is your first outing with ACUI or maybe you’re a young professional in the field, I do urge you to give the profession and ACUI a chance. I think this is probably one of those fields that you’ll work hard but when you go home that night you’ll be able to feel a wealth of satisfaction that you made a contribution on your campus. And for those of you who have been around for a while, all I can say is thank you. Keep on doing what you’re doing; you certainly make a difference. The last thing I want to leave with you is ... Do not value the things in your life but value the who in your life. Thank you very much for this award.”

The Butts-Whiting Award is the most prestigious award ACUI gives. Named after Porter Butts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Edgar Whiting from Cornell University, the award is intended to recognize and honor outstanding leaders in the Association who have made significant contributions to the college union and student activities movement and whose accomplishments are a credit to ACUI. Anyone in the Association can be nominated, and ACUI’s president appoints a confidential selection committee each year. Typically no one, not even the recipient, knows who will receive the Butts-Whiting Award until he or she is introduced as the winner.

ACUI Annual Business Meeting

This year the ACUI Annual Business Meeting was held at 4:30 p.m. on March 23, instead of last year’s 7:30 a.m. time slot. As a result, only standing room was available because of the increase in turnout. With no formal business on the agenda for the meeting, ACUI President Daniel Maxwell gave his State of the Association Address and recognized all outgoing members of the Board of Trustees. The primary focus of his address was ACUI’s achievements during 2004 in regard to its current position as a knowledge-based organization five years after the implementation of its strategic plan.

Corporate partners

While ACUI Procure’s sales have been lagging behind those in 2004, Maxwell said the Association’s advertising net revenue has increased. However, he said ACUI is “still too dependent on our conference success and the continued growth in our corporate partnerships.” While the Business Planning Task Force did not find any “magic answers,” Maxwell said we must continue to seek new revenue opportunities.


Maxwell said ACUI membership has also grown during the previous year with 708 institutional members in January 2005 up from 681 in 2004. He said this is due in part to the increased efforts of staff members and volunteers to communicate about dues renewals and gather feedback on members’ satisfaction. Additionally, ACUI has smoothly transitioned from an anniversary-date renewal system to a calendar-based renewal system with all members renewing in January.

ACUI Foundation

Maxwell commented on the ACUI Education and Research Foundation’s financial success following its creation in 2004. He said the events scheduled during the annual conference and the research initiatives being discussed will only further the visibility and support the foundation, envisioned with the strategic plan, will enjoy.


In 2003 ACUI redesigned its Web site and since then the monthly hits to www.acui.org have averaged nearly 35,000, Maxwell said. Additionally, he said, with improved use of technology via the ACUI Forum, Content Experts Database, online registration for programs, online bookstore, webinars, and ACUInfo database, the Association continues to make strides in enhancing the accessibility of resources for its members.

Recreation and leisure-time activities

Also in 2004, the Recreation and Leisure Activities Task Force gave its final report assessing and providing recommendations for the Association’s future recreation and leisure-time activities programming. Maxwell said: “The new leisure activities program provides greater flexibility to the regions, no blanket contractual agreement that could compromise regional participation, expands the international tournaments, expands leisure activities beyond tournament play, provides avenues to increase student participation across the Association.” He said this proactive evaluation of programs and services and giving a specific charge to a task force were steps outlined in the strategic plan for the future viability of the Association.


Maxwell praised the Association’s programming during the past year and said ACUI’s partnerships with so many higher education associations have only been positive. Additionally, Maxwell commented on the continued success of I-LEADA8, Stop the Hate!, and renovation and construction seminars. He also called ACUI’s poetry slam and College Bowl programs “great success stories.”

Further discussion about specific progress and some of the Association’s accomplishments during the past year will be detailed in the 2004 Annual Report to be sent to members in July after the financial audit is finalized. All conference delegates also received a “Strategic Plan Report Card” during the conference, which is available at www.acui.org.

Maxwell said the next order of business for the Association will be to develop a strategic plan to lead ACUI through the next five years. He requested input from all ACUI members, which can be e-mailed to him at dm-maxwell@wiu.edu.

Newcomers reception

Encouraging those in attendance to take risks, meet new professionals, and explore new competency areas, the Conference Program Team and ACUI leadership launched the 85th annual conference with a Newcomers Reception. With more than 75 first-time delegates in attendance, the reception was designed to help participants reap the full rewards of their conference experience by orienting participants to the conference schedule, explaining ACUI acronyms and lingo, and providing an introduction to ACUI culture. ACUI Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen welcomed delegates, explaining that conference newcomers represent the life blood and future of the Association. ACUI President Daniel Maxwell encouraged delegates to risk making new connections at the conference, and implored those gathered to seek volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Host Team Chair Chuck Price taught delegates the correct way to pronounce “Nevada” (Nuh-VAD-uh). Then he and Conference Program Team Chair Mark Guthier each provided their own take on the conference program and outlined a roadmap for involvement in what would become a successful conference experience.

Senior Management Professionals Program (SMPP)

The scope of the Senior Management Professionals Program (SMPP) was expanded this year to include more educational sessions about program assessment, effective leadership, financial management, and current trends in higher education and student affairs, in addition to union facility design and best practices for renovation and construction projects. Participants were able to experience extended learning opportunities about program model evaluation, how to implement lessons from the book “Good to Great,”as well as a tour of the Jot Student Union at the University of Nevada–Reno. SMPP participants also met with ACUI leadership and engaged in thoughtful discussions during round-tables.

Based on evaluative comments from previous ACUI annual conferences, the 2005 Conference Program Team aimed to make the SMPP a more well-rounded experience with a seminar-feel, while still making the schedule flexible enough to allow participants to attend other conference activities. The 2005 conference evaluation showed SMPP participants preferred the revised structure of the program and would recommend continuing it in years to come.

Mid-Level Managers Track

This year the Conference Program Team and Host Team felt there was an obvious gap between the educational opportunities provided for new professionals and senior management professionals. They sought to address this gap with the new Mid-Level Managers Track.

Primarily for those individuals with “assistant” or “associate” in their title or who have been in the profession for three to five years, this program included an orientation at the beginning of the conference and designated educational sessions throughout the following days. Among the educational sessions, three round-table sessions gave participants a forum to gather new ideas and discuss pertinent issues. In addition, two of these round-tables focused on supervision/fostering staff morale and professional and career development. Participation in the track offered mid-level professionals the chance to network and meet colleagues from different institutions and backgrounds, and it was well-received on conference evaluations with most saying it should be continued in conferences to come.

Student Track

With 88 undergraduate students and 28 graduate students registered for the conference, there were ample opportunities for students of differing backgrounds and levels of campus leadership to interact and share information. To make it easier for these connections to take place, this year the Conference Program Team brought back the Student Track program.

Because many of the conference programs are more relevant to full-time staff members, the Student Track is a way for students to attend sessions and focused discussions pertinent to their needs. During the Reno conference, the Student Track included designated educational sessions within each block, some of which were facilitated round-table discussions about issues pertinent to student leaders. During one of these round-tables students could share ideas for successful campus-wide programs, such as welcome week events and late-night programming. During another round-table building managers discussed training practices, operations procedures, and common concerns. The final round-table centered on the hot topic of revenue-generating programs.

As a way to introduce the experiences awaiting students, an orientation program was held on the first day of the conference. The room was packed as the Board of Trustees and Host Team Chairperson Chuck Price welcomed students to Reno. Conference Program Team members Kim Harrington and Susan Pile then facilitated icebreakers with the “Risk and Reward” theme to help students more actively meet one another. Also introduced during the orientation was the case study competition, in which four teams participated. And students were given a pamphlet detailing special events during the rest of the conference as well as ACUI “lingo” such as what “CPT” means (Conference Program Team).

“Students are the future of the profession and the Association, and while many of the students attending the annual conference might not pursue a career in unions or activities, the Student Track program enables them to get to know other students and to learn skills pertinent to their current jobs and that will be useful later in life,” Pile said. “This is a critically important program for ACUI, and we have received only positive feedback about making it a part of the 2005 conference.”

The Summit

A legend in the profession, Porter Butts once spoke of the union as the campus living room and community gathering place. In planning the 2005 annual conference, the Conference Program Team and Host Team set out to replicate that same sprit and environment within the conference hotel. The Reno Hilton has no real lobby setting away from the excitement of the casino, and the conference volunteers wanted to create a setting for colleagues to relax, refresh, and reconnect. This vision became a reality with The Summit.

Comfy couches and caf8E tables were placed in the Reno Hilton’s Grand Salon and rarely were found vacant during the conference. Old friends were able to chat and reminisce, employers and candidates participating in the ACUIRES Job Fair were able to hold informal interviews, and delegates could check their e-mail via the wireless Internet connection. Additionally, conference attendees could find information about entertainment and restaurants in and around Reno from The Summit Information Center, staffed by Host Team members from the local area. And in the evenings, movies shown in The Summit provided an alternative to hanging out in the casino or nightclub.

ACUI After Dark

New York might not be the only “city that never sleeps.” Casino games and eateries in the Reno Hilton stayed open all night and this year’s conference also featured activities lasting into the wee hours. New this year, ACUI After Dark was a larger version of previous conferences’ Club ACUI and also incorporated the perennial Battle of the Regions, expanded to two nights. Movies were shown each evening in the Grand Salon, bands played in The Garage casino nightclub, and delegates could take their pick between bowling and billiards, College Bowl and Poetry Slam. Of course, there were also opportunities for casual conversation over a nightcap. However, few chose to leave the Reno Hilton or go to sleep early with all the exciting activities happening as part of ACUI After Dark. On the final night there was even a deejay and dance floor set up in the Grand Salon that played into the night. Perhaps this was a new, 21st century version of the old-days piano sing-alongs.

Conference Service Project

The annual conference dates made a book donation a fitting Conference Service Project as March was Literacy Month. About 60 books were collected during the conference for donation to a Reno-area reading project. Fluency Reading is a program in which volunteers read to individual elementary school children, many of whom are second-language speakers, and model proper English pronunciation.CAThrough the program, the children gain many essential skills including confidence, fluency, language development, self worth, and an enjoyment of reading.

The ACUI Expo

With a total of 92 booths the 2005 ACUI Expo featured everything from motivational speakers to patio furniture to campus planners. Seventy-eight companies participated in the exhibit hall, which was open two days of the conference with a special buffet lunch served on the second day. The ACUI Expo is an opportunity for institutional delegates and corporate partners to connect in person, and it offers a way for companies to showcase their programs and services as potential solutions for challenges and needs college union and student activities professionals experience. This year the ACUI Expo featured 14 companies making their debut appearance in the exhibit hall as well as many long-time partners of the Association. But the relationships built during the conference do not end when everyone returns to their home campuses; 57 ACUI associate members and 18 ACUI Procure vendors participated in the ACUI Expo, making it easy for those connections to continue throughout the rest of the year.

Opening Banquet

Representing a first in ACUI history, this year’s conference officially began on the airplane—an early 7-series Boeing plane in the Hilton Theater, that is. To much lights and fanfare, the plane came cruising in on the world’s largest stage and the Conference Program Team and Host Team members disembarked as they were introduced. Conference Program Team Chair Mark Guthier and Host Team Chair Chuck Price welcomed delegates to Reno and the 85th annual conference of the Association. The dinner theater was the perfect setting for the Opening Banquet, which also included a performance by Rat Pack impersonators and a six-piece band during and after the meal. It was a fitting welcome to Reno, a city formerly frequented by Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. But the banquet was only an initial taste of the risks and rewards awaiting ACUI conference attendees!

Silent auction raises "moola" for the ACUI Foundation

The 2005 ACUI Foundation Silent Auction met with great success in Reno. With more than 300 entries, many conference attendees placed bids on items ranging from collegiate clothing to art pieces such as vases, pottery, and jewelry donated by ACUI members and friends. Popular auction items this year included a two-night stay at the San Francisco Marriott, a Broadway theater package, a two-night stay at the Indiana University Memorial Union, an autographed football from The Ohio State University, a High Point office chair, a collection of hats from the Big Ten, and a package for the 2005 Indiana Professional Development Seminar. A highlight of the Silent Auction was an appearance by “Moola” the cow, who joyfully encouraged conference attendees to participate in the auction.

The 2005 Silent Auction raised approximately $10,000 for the ACUI Foundation. Proceeds from the auction allow the ACUI Foundation to support the Association’s members in the following ways:

  • Provide scholarships and fellowships to students interested in pursuing careers in the college union and student activities profession.
  • Support research and the scholarly advancement of ACUI and the college unions and student activities profession.
  • Partially underwrite educational programs for students (e.g., I-LEADA8) and professional development programs for staff (e.g., the Indiana Professional Development Seminar) sponsored through ACUI.
  • Support external initiatives sponsored by partner higher education associations and higher education institutions to advance knowledge about student development and issues facing the student affairs profession.
  • Assist ACUI in actualizing its mission, strategic long-range goals, and core values through supplemental financial assistance.

Thanks to all who participated in the 2005 ACUI Foundation Silent Auction.

Architecture & Design Showcase

2005 Architecture & Design Showcase participants:

  • Bruner/Cott
  • Canon Design
  • The Collaborative
  • Ellerbe Becket
  • Einhorn Yaffee Prescott
  • Livermore Edwards
  • MHTN Architects
  • Moody-Nolan
  • Mackey Mitchell
  • Perkins & Will
  • Pfeiffer Partners
  • Sasaki
  • Seder Architects
  • Smith Group
  • Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects
  • WTW
  • Shepley Bulfinch Richardson Abbott


The Battle of the Regions competition was bigger and better than ever this year. Regions competed to win points in two evenings’ worth of events as well as in the ACUI Foundation River Path Challenge. The overall winner racking up the most points was Region 15. During the first evening of competition, 16 teams (nearly 100 delegates) bowled and more than 40 individuals played billiards in the Reno Hilton Bowling Center. Regions even created their own cheers and some wore team shirts. The following morning early-risers awoke to get their heart rates up in support of the ACUI Foundation. More delegates participated than have in years and $2,952 was raised. That evening, poets and quick-thinkers participated in the traditional favorite Battle of the Regions events—poetry slam and College Bowl.


Highest Team Score
First Place: Region 15
Second Place: Region 11
Third Place: Region 7

Highest Average Team Score
First Place: Region 15
Second Place: Region 10
Third Place: Region 11

Highest Individual Score
First Place: Region 7
Second Place: Region 15
Third Place: Region 1


First Place: Tricia Agustin, Region 15
Second Place: Ray Alverez, Region 12
Third Place: Dan Adams, Region 13

Poetry Slam

First Place: Margaret Voss, Region 10
Second Place: Gary Fisher, Region 10
Third Place: Brandon Bowden, Region 6

College Bowl

First Place: Region 8
Second Place: Region 6
Third Place: Region 2

ACUI Foundation Golf Tournament

The annual conference golf tournament has been missing in recent years as the conference has been held in chilly climates. But this year in Reno the ACUI Foundation Golf Tournament was back! Much fun was had by all 22 participants, and with the tournament grossing more than $2,000, it was a big success.

Six groups participated in the 18-hole scramble. The top three teams were:

First Place: Bernard Pitts, Kansas State University; Dan Adams, University of Arizona; Michael Stickney, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology; Chris Chelmick, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Second Place: Ted Hoef, Webster University; Scott Weingarten, Panda Restaurant Group; Mark Packer, University of North Texas; Rick Thomas, Northwestern University

Third Place: Gary Fisher, North Dakota State University; Joel Perez, Pomona College; Leslie Davis, Sacramento State University

Participants also enjoyed mini contests including “Closest to the Pin,” “Longest Drive,” and—new this year—“Golf BINGO.” Chelmick won both the men’s Closest to the Pin and Longest Drive competitions. Gloria Henn, Brooklyn CUNY, won the women’s Closest to the Pin competition, and Davis won the women’s Longest Drive competition. Two individuals called “Bingo!” Offering generous support via sponsorship of the tournament were Panda Restaurant Group, Brailsford & Dunlavey, Hornberger & Worstell, AMF Billiards & Games, Gear Sports, Sayings For You, and Kansas State University.

River Path Challenge

For the first time in recent memory, ACUI delegates turned out en masse to support the ACUI Foundation River Path Challenge (formerly the FUNd Run/Walk). Gathering at the early hour of 7 a.m., runners and walkers warmed up by stretching to “Jock Jams” before setting off for a sprint or stroll along the Truckee River. In total, $2,952 was raised by the more than 50 participants, many of whom were first-timers or students.

While the defending champ, Bob Rodda, The College of Wooster, was once again the top fundraiser, in second place was student and first-time conference attendee Diana McCarthy-Bercury, Naugatuck Valley Community College. She said: “I run because it makes me feel closer to my father.CA... My father died when I was 16 and he used to run every road race and marathon that he possibly could. I used to run with him when I was younger. ... When I found out about the 5K in Reno I was excited to lace up my shoes.”

McCarthy-Bercury collected $305 during the days before the run. She said: “I would ask for sponsorships from everyone I saw, and people would respond: ‘Sorry, I already sponsored someone from my own region.’ I would reply with: ‘That’s OK, thank you for sponsoring someone; it’s for a good cause.’ Then some people would agree and actually sponsor me as well.CAI went up to other runners from different regions which I was competing with and asked them to be sponsors. ... I would say: ‘I will sponsor you $5 and you can sponsor me.’CA This surprised people, but ultimately what it comes down to is we were all working together towards a common goal.”CA

Additionally, this year the River Path Challenge was incorporated into Battle of the Regions, so individuals could participate solo or on regional teams to win points. This new structure was popular with participants registered from all 15 regions! Also, each region was given a piggy bank to raise money. A total of $473.46 was collected with Region 1 bringing in the most at $126.79. This brought the total River Path Challenge funds to $3,425.46, more money than this event has raised in years.

Planning to attend Central Connecticut State University next year to continue her education, McCarthy-Bercury said: “Next year I would love participate; that is if I get to return to ACUI.CAIf so, I will most definitely come in first next year, I have started fundraising already, and if I can’t attend, I will take what monies I have raised and sponsor someone else from Region 1. I had a great experience and learned valuable information about college unions.”

Top Fundraisers
First Place: Bob Rodda – $637
Second Place: Diana McCarthy-Bercury – $305
Third Place: Martin Sandoval –$241

Women’s Fastest Time First Place: Jen McGovern
Second Place: Pam Davis
Third Place: Carol Raske

Men’s Fastest Time
First Place: Bill Kroll
Second Place: Kevin Lockwood
Third Place: Martin Sandoval