ACUI Core Competencies from 2005 to Today: A Summary of Changes

ACUI’s Education Council has proposed significant changes to the original core competencies adopted in 2005. These include adding two new competencies (Assessment, Evaluation & Research; Event Management), merging Management with Leadership, and changing Intercultural Proficiency to Social Justice. Additionally, threads throughout all the core competencies will be added. With this new approach, Communication and Technology will be transitioned to threads, demonstrating their importance within all competency areas. 

Assessment, Evaluation & Research (NEW): 

Over the past decade the need for assessment has grown exponentially. Several original core competencies included assessment, but the need to show how programs, services, and facilities are serving the needs of students and institutions has become an essential part of every student affairs professional’s role. The review team also determined assessment was a distinct competency area during review of other professional competencies literature.  

Event Management (NEW): 

The ability to successfully plan and execute high-quality programs with and for campus and external stakeholders is a key function of many union professionals and departments. This new area aligns with other professional associations’ core competencies and with the standards published by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). 

Intercultural Proficiency to Social Justice (NAME CHANGE): 

One of the most substantial changes in the core competencies was renaming Intercultural Proficiency to Social Justice, moving from a more basic understanding or awareness of other cultures to the more active framework of social justice. Intercultural Proficiency was found to be a dated term that had been surpassed by diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, the review team determined that even diversity, equity, and inclusion seemed passive, whereas Social Justice integrates the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion into a more active framework. 

Communication and Technology (ELIMINATED): 

The Education Council recognized that communication and technology were threads that were part of almost all aspects of advancing community on campus, and that overall four points of emphasis ran through every competency: communication, technology, ethics, and equity. These threads emphasize these areas in all responsibilities within the union field. 

Management with Leadership (MERGED) as Organizational Leadership: 

Management and Leadership were separate competencies in the original version of the document, but the review team found several areas of overlap and determined they were interdependent. The two competencies were merged to form a stronger, single core competency: Organizational Leadership.  

Following the virtual focus groups held in June to review final drafts of the competencies, they will be refined to address any feedback and presented to the Board of Trustees in July. The Education Council will be introducing the new edition of core competencies beginning at Regional Conferences in October and November. The group also plans to create self-assessment and development tools in the coming months. If you have questions about the review or the process, contact Zack Wahlquist (  


Dana Bonifacio-Sample 
University of Alabama 

Missy Burgess, Ph.D. 
University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh 

Alstair Cowie 
University of Sydney 

Ian Crone 
University of Tennessee–Knoxville

Kristine Day 
University of Michigan–Dearborn 

Jonathan Duke, Ed.D. 
Kennesaw State University 

Jeni Eltink, Ph.D. 
University of Minnesota–Duluth 

Krista Harrell, Ph.D. 
University of South Alabama 

Tami Kuhn 
Michigan State University 

Eric Margiotta 
Virginia Tech 

Morgan Meehan 
University of North Carolina–Charlotte 

Victoria Culver Rice 
Missouri State University 

Jennifer Zamora 
The University of Texas–Austin 

Zack Wahlquist 


  • Elizabeth Beltramini

    Elizabeth Beltramini served as ACUI's director of content curation and chief diversity officer. She worked at ACUI for more than 20 years before leaving in 2022 to pursue new challenges. Upon her departure, Beltramini received ACUI's Honorary Membership and Presidential Award for Distinguished Services.

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