ACUI Announces New Board Members

ACUI members elected a new president and three new at-large Board of Trustee members, and the current board has named University of Arkansas sophomore Karina Wickham as the incoming student board member. 

Ian Crone, director of the University of Tennessee student union, will serve as ACUI’s new president-elect. Joining him for installation to office during the 2024 Annual Conference in Denver will be at-large Board of Trustee members Keith Kowalka, assistant vice president for student affairs at the University of Houston; Susan Pile, senior director of university unions and auxiliary services at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor; and Phillip Smith, assistant dean of students for student basic needs at Rutgers University. 

In their candidate statements, the elected individuals made the following statements.  

Crone: “As union professionals are increasingly stretched, ACUI is challenged to re-engage and equip an evolving volunteer membership. ACUI programs, including College Unions Student Affairs Certification, can retool our profession while the Regional Engagement Task Force Report and the pursuit of new members should guide the creation of ACUI’s strategic plan.” 

Kowalka: “As an association, we have a responsibility to be a voice for any injustice that impacts the members of our community—whether that be our students, our colleagues, or our institutions. In my career, I, along with many student affairs professionals, have spoken up and been active in support of a broad definition of civil rights and the dignity of all peoples; free speech; and issues of access and equity on our campuses and in our local communities. This must continue to be a key pillar for ACUI.” 

Pile: “Our workforce continues to evolve. ACUl’s role is to provide education and other services to prepare members to lead and manage in this environment. ACUl’s partnerships in higher education to monitor the changing workforce are critical to providing the services members need. Additionally, the evolving workforce is impacting member ability or interest to volunteer their time and talents for the Association.” 

Smith: “It is important to remember that member engagement also impacts the volunteer experience and financial well-being of the Association. Therefore, in order for ACUI to be sustainable on all levels, we need to focus on membership. This is crucial as the landscape of higher education and student affairs is revolving and changing quickly.” 

Additionally, Wickham made the following statement in her application to serve on the board: “One of the biggest issues I’ve seen facing the Association is the involvement and engagement of undergraduate and graduate students. In working with the Region II student involvement coordinator this past year, one of our most frequent hurdles to planning events or programs was specifically how to cater to the undergraduate population of the region in a way that builds them up and makes them feel as though ACUI can be a place of community and learning for them.” 

Elections were held for open positions throughout November 2023. Overall, there were 242 ballots cast out of 1,062 eligible voters, representing a 22.8% voter turnout, compared to a five-year average of 17% participation. A detailed overview of the participation in this year’s Board of Trustees election, including a voter breakdown, is available here.  

Ranked Choice Voting was used for the election, which means voters could cast their ballot for all of the candidates, ranking their top candidate first, followed by other candidates according to their preference for selection. A more detailed description of ranked choice voting can be found here, and a YouTube explanation is here


  • Steve Chaplin

    Steve Chaplin is managing editor of ACUI’s The Bulletin and manager of the ACUI College Union and Student Activities (CUSA) Evaluation Program. A former newspaper writer, editor, and manager, he has volunteered as a student mentor as a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and received awards for his writing and reporting from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Kentucky Education Association, and the Kentucky Press Association.

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