Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
– George S. Patton
Volume 75 | Issue 6
November 2007

From the Executive Director: Blue Ribbon Community

Marsha Herman-Betzen

I have never won an award, not ever. I have never won an award for academic achievement, music, art, or physical dexterity. I have never won a spelling bee, a relay race, a beauty pageant, or even a prize for the best jar of chutney at the county fair. Looking back I wish I had been more involved in activities that could have produced an award or two. Just being involved in 4-H would have increased my award-winning chances exponentially. Admit it, you couldn’t help but be impressed if I told you I had won an award for raising the biggest heifer or for sheering my pet sheep in record time. Even if I had achieved blue ribbon status for my lavender crocheted afghan with the pom-poms or was the best in class for desserts with my sky-high lemon meringue pie, you would have been awed. Unfortunately I grew up in an urban setting and didn’t even know 4-H existed until I moved to Oklahoma as an adult.

Now before you feel too sorry for me, it is important to note I was born with some innate theatrical talent, although not award winning. My mother has called me a drama queen for as long as I can remember. I think it would not be an overstatement to suggest I could be considered above-average in speech and drama. While I never got any of the starring roles in high school theater productions, I did have my share of supporting roles, often delivering a great one liner with real pizzazz. And although I never carried away one of the coveted trophies, I did compete in dramatic interpretation making it to the final round at the state forensics competition my senior year. To this day, I can remember my gut-wrenching depiction of Teriesias in Sophocles’ "Oedipus Rex." With just the right amount of emoting, I expressed the play’s ultimate message of understanding being far greater than vision alone, as a tear slowly trickled down my cheek.

It is probably this love of drama and personal lack of winning that has made me an avid watcher of any award show on television. Even as a child I would beg my parents to please let me stay up and watch the Academy Awards with the promise I wouldn’t be cranky in the morning. I try diligently to never miss the Tony Awards or Emmys. And while the gowns, jewels, glitz, and glamour of the red carpet is something to behold, what really inspires me are the winners’ acceptance speeches. I am often stirred to tears as the regal recipients thank their colleagues for their awards and, without exception, express the importance of being honored for their body of work by their peers.

It is this sentiment that I hope you will respond to with a fervor not previously exhibited. Each of you has a great opportunity to tell the college union and student activities story by nominating someone who contributes to the profession, gives exceptional service to ACUI, exemplifies outstanding achievement in the field, or is now retiring after a long and storied career. I have listed the Association’s current awards in hopes you will nominate a deserving colleague for one of these honors. Awards will be presented at the Community Builders Award Ceremony at the annual conference in New Orleans. Take a few moments to look over the listing of awards and if a peer comes to mind, as I am sure it will, please take the time to nominate that special individual.

Butts-Whiting Award
The purpose of this award is to recognize and honor outstanding leaders in ACUI who have made significant contributions to the college union and student activities movement and whose accomplishments and careers are a credit to ACUI. This is the highest and most prestigious award ACUI bestows.

Earl Whitfield Regional Newsletter Award
The award was created to promote excellence in regional newsletters and to recognize the volunteers who produce the newsletter.

Emeritus Award
Established in 1994, the ACUI Emeritus Award recognizes those college union and student activities professionals who are retiring. Nominees must have worked in the field for 10 years and rendered exceptional service.

Honorary Membership
This distinction normally is reserved for college union and student activities professionals upon retirement from the field. On appropriate occasions, it may be awarded to non-union personnel whose efforts have served to enhance the Association and the college union ideal, or to a professional who has rendered exceptional service but has left the college union and student activities field in pursuit of other careers.

Revis A. Cox Memorial Award
This award recognizes outstanding support of multicultural education.

Richard D. Blackburn New Professional Award
This award is given to an individual who has been in the profession for less than five years and who demonstrates the potential for excellence in the field of college union and student activities work.

Two Year College Honorary Associate Degree Award
This award honors an individual employed by a four-year college or university who has done the most to further the causes and concerns of two-year colleges within ACUI.

Two-Year College Professional Service Award
This award honors an individual who best exemplifies outstanding achievement in the field of student activities or college union management at the two-year level.  

Facility Design Award 
This award was established to encourage excellence in the design of student-centered facilities that support campus community building and student learning.

Steal this Idea 
This contest recognizes students and staff for their graphics and marketing materials used to promote college unions and student activities.

In addition to these individual awards, six new awards have been established this year to honor outstanding college union and student activities programs. Whether you work in the operations or programming department or oversee the college union, take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments during the past year. In what ways has your staff been innovative? What ideas might another campus be able to implement? What best practices can you share? Many, if not most, of the answers to these questions were the outcomes of collaborative efforts within your department or across your campus. ACUI now has a way to recognize all contributors for those achievements, through the following awards:

Excellence in Student Training Programs (new)
This award recognizes innovative approaches toward training students. Winning training programs will show evidence of improved performance, gains in student skills and capabilities, enhanced motivation, and progress toward organizational objectives.

Excellence in Innovations for Sustainability (new)
This award recognizes members who are solving environmental challenges by using innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships.

Outstanding Service Project of the Year Award (new)
This award recognizes and honors outstanding programs and program leaders on individual campuses who have made significant contributions to the campus or community in which they live.

Staff-Driven Program of the Year Award (new)
This award was established to recognize the impact of programming on student learning and to celebrate the achievements of staff charged with this responsibility. The award will be given to a program that is created and implemented by professional staff and represents standards of excellence in campus programming.

Student-Driven Program of the Year Award (new)
This new award was established to recognize the achievement of students who are responsible for creating campus programming. It too recognizes the impact of programming on student learning with the goal of celebrating the remarkable achievements of excellence.

Collaborative Program of the Year Award (new)
This award was established to recognize outstanding accomplishments of programs which bring together two or more entities to achieve a common goal. The award will be given to a program that is created and implemented by multiple organizations working in partnership within the campus community or at
multiple institutions.

For several years, we’ve displayed a collection of ACUI’s 15 or so awards and recognitions on top of our metal file cabinets. Before that, in the Central Office’s previous locale, they were banished to cardboard boxes because of our lack of display space. Now, I’m so glad to see them as I walk down the hallway each day. My staff sometimes mocks me for the many times I tenderly straighten them, brush away a speck of dust, or remove a smudge from a glass base. Any time someone new comes to visit the Central Office I proudly show them our awards and share the stories behind each one. And just this month, ACUI finally purchased a shelf on which to display our awards in the office entryway. I could not be more pleased.

While I personally might never have received a trophy or blue ribbon, I am honored to have shared in some of the projects for which I and my colleagues were recognized. These awards are not a testament to any one volunteer’s or staff member’s work; they are the result of much cooperation and collaboration. While in the past ACUI has been able to honor individuals for their personal legacy, I am so glad we can now recognize collective efforts to build community on college campuses. Please take a few moments to nominate your colleague for one of ACUI’s prestigious awards. Just go to http://www.acui.org/volunteer. Can you think of a better way to tell a colleague how much you respect their work?