Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
– Bill Gates
Volume 75 | Issue 4
July 2007

Results From ACUI Surveys on Communities

One of the goals of ACUI’s 2006–10 Strategic Plan is that "ACUI will be recognized as the leading expert and vital resource of information and new models for successful campus community building." In the past few months, ACUI has made considerable progress on one strategy toward that goal: Advance ACUI’s Communities so they complement the knowledge base of the Association and model the meaning of "community."

During the annual conference in Atlanta this March, ACUI conducted a large focus group with current and former members of the Association’s most active Communities: Small Schools; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender; Community on Multicultural Programs, and Two-Year Colleges. The Association also sought input from some members who are not Community participants to find out why they are not involved and what might spur them to get involved.

Among those who attended the focus group, nearly all agreed that current Communities should have more structure—even if their creation is at the grassroots level. Others agreed upon a desire for each Community to have a clear, well-communicated purpose so that it could better recruit and retain members and offer intentionally designed services. Most left Atlanta encouraged about the future of not only the existing Communities but also of the potential for additional Communities.

ACUI followed up this focus group with two Web-based surveys of ACUI members related to Communities. The first survey was sent to all ACUI members who participated in one of the "Community Night Out" events at the annual conference or who subscribe to a Community listserve. The second survey went to all ACUI institutional members who did not fit one of the categories. These surveys will be used to inform the Association’s new approaches to Community development.


Survey to current Community participants

The purpose of this survey was to determine the content areas around which existing Community participants are engaged with the Association. It also asked members what kinds of structures and resources they would like to see associated with Community organization. The Communities participants survey had a response rate of 38.0 percent, out of the 213 who were asked to complete the survey.

Survey respondents saw themselves being highly involved in the following Communities (not all of which currently exist): small schools (48.2 percent), activities and programming (48.2 percent), learning outcomes (40.7 percent), diversity and multiculturalism (40.7 percent, multicultural programs (38.3 percent), and student employment (38.3 percent).

Respondents were interested in the following services for Communities: meeting space at the annual conference (88.8 percent), a page on the ACUI Web site (70.0 percent), ability to submit articles for possible publication in the ACUI Bulletin (63.8 percent), a discussion board in the ACUI Forum (61.3 percent), and the ability to use the ACUI name and logo (61.3 percent).

If members wanted to create a new Community, 42.1 percent of respondents agreed there should be an application process for Association approval with minimal criteria.

The majority of respondents (82.9 percent) said that Communities should have a designated point person or leader and that they should agree to operate according to ACUI policies, procedures, and other governing documents. While 23.7 percent of respondents said each Community could determine its own leadership structure, 44.7 percent said that the Community leadership should be a team of several individuals.


Survey to members not participating in Communities

ACUI surveyed members who were not involved in one of the Association’s current Communities, either through the dinners at the annual conference or through participation in their listserves. ACUI wanted to know about additional Communities members might find valuable as well members’ ideal involvement in a Community. Out of the 2,507 asked to complete the survey, 15.0 percent responded.

The majority of respondents (51.1 percent) indicated that they could see themselves actively involved in Communities on facilities/operations management. The same percentage wanted Communities on activities and programming. While this is in line with two of ACUI’s Education Council areas, it indicates an interest in more structured activities rather than solely a knowledge base. Close runners-up were Communities on student employment (42.2 percent), advising and student group management (38.4 percent), and learning outcomes (37.6 percent).

Many respondents (68.2 percent) said they would participate in Community discussion boards on the ACUI Forum. Slightly fewer (49.9 percent) said they would present educational sessions related to their Community at ACUI regional conferences (37.8 percent would present at the annual conference).

The strongest statement made by survey respondents is that ACUI Communities should provide educational sessions at the annual conference (80.3 percent) and the regional conferences (74.7 percent). Additional services respondents identified included Community resources on the ACUI Web site (70 percent), Bulletin articles related to Communities topics (65.3 percent), and discussions on the ACUI Forum (55.3 percent).


What’s next

ACUI will use the data from this survey, the focus group, the reports from the "Think Tank on Community" held during the annual conference, and benchmarking against peer organizations to develop new programs and services to support these developing organizations. Watch for additional information from the Association in upcoming months.

For additional information or to make comments and suggestions about Communities, please contact Zack Wahlquist at the ACUI Central Office via phone at 812.245.8053 or e-mail at zwahlqui@acui.org.