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 award also spotlights the accomplishments of the Association and thereby increases the pride of the staff and students who work with the college union program on each campus. It presents to college communities around the world tangible evidence of the effectiveness of the programs of the college union. In establishing this program, it is recognized that the award is given for outstanding achievement and that no compromises diminishing the significance of the award are to be made

Submission deadline is November 15, 2024. Check back soon for submission form link.

2024 Recipient: Sarah Aikman, Northern Kentucky University

Sarah Aikman, assistant vice president for student engagement and inclusiveness at Northern Kentucky University, received the 2024 Butts-Whiting Award. In presenting the award, Dr. Kim Harrington, interim vice president for arts, belonging, and community at Georgia Tech, said nominators described Aikman as “innovative, a bridge-builder, reliable, tireless, honest, hardworking and loyal,” and used phrases like, “This person inspires us all to be better; leads with positive change; models integrity; exhibits unparalleled selflessness and service,” to capture the essence of Aikman’s work.

Aikman’s list of volunteer service to ACUI is indeed impressive. She served as an at-large member of the Board of Trustees from 2009–11 and then president from 2015–16. She joined the Education and Research Fund in 2018, eventually becoming chair of the committee from 2019–22. In that role, she spearheaded the development of ACUI’s Financial Assistance Fund and creation of the Legacy Leader Award program.

Aikman chaired both the 2008 and 2014 Conference Program Teams; the latter allowed her to serve on the 100th Anniversary Celebration Committee, through which she was instrumental in the development and execution of the event’s museum. Aikman has also served as I-LEAD® host and facilitator, Regional Conference host, Regional Leadership Team member, and 2005 Conference Program Team member. And she continues her volunteer efforts to this day as a member of the 2025 Conference Program Team.

Find the press release on this recognition here.

ACUI is not currently accepting nominations for this award. Please check back in 2024 for additional information about the next nomination period.

The review process includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of the criteria listed below. The nominee must:

  • Have attained prominence through their efforts to develop the college union and student activities movement at the regional and association levels through their work within ACUI and on campus;
  • Be a person of such integrity, stature, and demonstrated ability that the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of their college will take pride in and be inspired by this recognition;
  • Be a person eminently successful on campus, in ACUI, and in the community, with a record of accomplishment that is impressive to the college union and student activities movement;
  • Reflect, through deeds and actions, the importance of their position in, loyalty to, and pride in the college union and student activities movement.

Individuals who have participated in the college union and student activities movement as a professional for a minimum of 10 years, who are active in the field at the time of nomination, and who are not previous Butts-Whiting Award recipients are eligible for this award.

Nominators will receive electronic notification confirming receipt of materials. A confidential Butts-Whiting Award Committee, appointed annually by the ACUI president, will review materials to make the selection. Not more than one award will be presented during any year, and an award need not be given every year. One physical award will be given to the recipient, who will be recognized during the closing banquet at the annual conference and in subsequent publications.

  • 2023: Victoria Angis, Castleton University
  • 2022: Lincoln Johnson, University of Washington
  • 2021: Keith Kowalka, University of Houston
  • 2020: Dave Barnes, James Madison University
  • 2019: Daniel Maxwell, University of Houston   
  • 2018: Kim Harrington, Georgia Institute of Technology  
  • 2017: Mark Guthier, University of Wisconsin–Madison  
  • 2016: Michael Henthorne, Oregon State University  
  • 2015: Marsha Herman-Betzen, ACUI  
  • 2014: Whit Hollis, University of Utah  
  • 2013: Robert Mindrum, Purdue University  
  • 2012: Don Luse, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill  
  • 2011: Robert Rouzer, University of Illinois–Chicago  
  • 2010: Sally Hammock, Georgia Institute of Technology  
  • 2009: Bob Rodda, College of Wooster  
  • 2008: Donnchadh O’hAodha, National University of Ireland–Cork  
  • 2007: Colette Berge, Pikes Peak Community College  
  • 2006: Matt Cameron, Santa Clara University  
  • 2005: Bernard Pitts, Kansas State University  
  • 2004: Meg O’Sullivan, SUNY Downstate Medical Center  
  • 2003: Robert Schneeweiss, Central Connecticut State University  
  • 2002: Debra Hammond, California State University–Northridge  
  • 2001: Susan Yung Maul, University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign  
  • 2000: Jay Boyar, Prince George’s Community College  
  • 1999: Shirley Plakidas, Louisiana State University  
  • 1998: Gretchen Laatsch, University of Akron  
  • 1997: J. William Johnston, Northwestern University  
  • 1996: Neil Gerard, Pomona College  
  • 1995: Winston Shindell, Indiana University–Bloomington  
  • 1994: Joseph H. Benedict Jr., CUNY-Brooklyn College  
  • 1992: William E. Brattain, Western Illinois University  
  • 1991: Greer Dawson Wilson, University of Virginia  
  • 1990: Linda L. Eldred, Indiana State University  
  • 1989: Dorothy Pijan, Case Western Reserve University  
  • 1988: LeNorman Strong, George Washington University  
  • 1987: Adell McMillan, University of Oregon  
  • 1986: John F. Ketter, University of Northern Iowa  
  • 1985: Earl Whitfield, California State University–Fresno  
  • 1984: Phyllis P. Marshall, University of South Florida  
  • 1983: Ernest L. Bebb Jr., University of Utah  
  • 1982: Ronald C. Barrett, San Jose State University  
  • 1981: Gail B. Clay, University of Tennessee  
  • 1980: Jack S. Sturgell, University of Delaware  
  • 1979: Lyle S. Curtis, Brigham Young University  
  • 1978: William D. Scott, University of Houston  
  • 1977: Richard D. Blackburn, Indiana University–Bloomington  
  • 1976: Shirley Bird Perry, University of Texas–Austin  
  • 1975: Edwin O. Sigglekow, University of Minnesota  
  • 1974: Boris C. Bell, George Washington University  
  • 1973: George F. Stevens, Oregon State University  
  • 1972: C. Shaw Smith, Davidson College  
  • 1970: Max H. Andrews, Queens College  
  • 1970: William E. Rion, University of Florida  
  • 1969: Chester A. Berry, Stanford University  
  • 1969: Harold E. Pride, Iowa State University  
  • 1967: Edgar A. Whiting, Cornell University  
  • 1967: Porter Butts, University of Wisconsin 

About Porter Butts

Porter F. Butts, often called the “elder statesman” of the college union profession, began his career with the Wisconsin Union at the University of Wisconsin–Madison before its building was built and stayed there for almost 50 years until his retirement in 1970. He drew on his experience from planning the Wisconsin Union to help more than 100 colleges and universities plan their own union buildings. His name appears throughout the history of the college union movement and particularly in ACUI’s annals. He attended his first ACUI annual conference at Cornell University in 1926, served as president in 1932, and was editor of publications from 1936–70. He initiated and administered the predecessor of today’s Career Center, proposed the regional system, started the intercollegiate recreation tournaments, and wrote The College Union Idea. He also wrote the first draft of The Role of the College Union . 

His commitment to the union philosophy led to his deep interest in the international union movement, which resulted in State of the College Union Around the World, a comprehensive book about unions in 60 countries. This commitment also led him, along with Edgar Whiting, to persuade federal agencies to include unions in the federal loan program, without which many union facilities never would have been built.

About Edgar Whiting

Edgar Whiting served as ACUI’s secretary-treasurer from 1941–68, helping to make the Association what it is today. Whiting kept the Association books, answered inquiries about unions, wrote to prospective members, produced the annual conference proceedings, and filled publication orders, working from an office in his home during evenings and weekends. After 1963, Whiting ran the employment service that is now the ACUI Career Center. He also arranged and managed the Association’s annual conferences for 20 years, sometimes planning three years in advance. His devotion to excellence and unparalleled leadership service established a model of professionalism highly regarded in the college union field today. 

All of this was accomplished during his service as director of Cornell University’s Willard Straight Hall from 1958–70. Previously he was assistant director under Foster Coffin. During the first half of his tenure, Whiting donated his time on a voluntary basis; only during the second half was ACUI able to afford a token stipend for his services. Whiting also served in the U.S. Army from 1944–46 and later reenlisted and served 1950–52. 

When he retired from the field in 1971, he received an ACUI honorary membership at the annual conference “for his 40 years of devoted service to the union at Cornell, for his 27 years of incalculable contributions to this association, for the thrusts forward he has given to the union movement by working steadfastly at it with talent and wisdom, and for being the already honorable person and friend he is.”