The Emeritus Award is presented to professionals for their leadership and dedication to serving students and advancing campus community through their careers in the college union and student activities field.

While intended to recognize those retiring from the profession, on appropriate occasions, the ACUI Emeritus Award may be awarded to a professional who has rendered exceptional service to ACUI but has left the college union and student activities field in pursuit of another career.

ACUI is now accepting nominations for distinguished awards! Nominate by December 8!

2023 Recipient: Debra blade  

Debra Blade is the most consistent presence at Northwestern University’s Norris Center. Blade graduated from the campus in 1979 and is one of the most tenured staff members. During the Norris Center’s recent 50-year anniversary, Blade was a key source of history and knowledge. Blade is retiring in 2023 after more than 40 years in the field. 

Thank you for this honor. I accepted my first full-time position in Norris Center in 1979 and attended my first ACUI conference in 1981 which is where I decided to be in a profession that values the student experience in higher education. My career has been a rigorous journey filled with ever evolving activities, services, students, spaces, funding, leadership, campus climate, activism, and technology. I have concluded that the one sure thing is, what we do as student union and campus center professionals to make a difference every day for our students.  Our work will always be essential and relevant, giving a sense of community and caring and always advocating for the needs of our young adults, our students. Thank you, Corbin Smyth, and Jeremy Schenk, for recognizing my years of hard work and accomplishments and thank you to all my colleagues, supervisors, current and past, who inspired, mentored, and motivated me to grow and develop in this field and mostly to the students at Northwestern University who always make every day special and a learning opportunity for us all.

2023 Recipient: David Mucci  

David Mucci was a key part of the University of Kansas community. He made many contributions throughout his more than 20 years in his director role. And the campus is making sure he knows his impact as, among other efforts, the campus radio station studio was renamed in his honor after he worked 12 years ago to ensure the key student service found a home in the union. Mucci retired from the University of Kansas in June 2022. 

2023 Recipient: Tim Moore 

Tim Moore is committed to advancing the profession. During his career, he worked to shape education policy, raised money for needed renovations, and served as a source of knowledge and inspiration. Moore is always willing to share his expertise, presenting at numerous Annual Conferences and seminars for ACUI and other organizations. Moore retired from the University of Louisville in December 2022 after nearly 40 years in the profession. 

2023 Recipient: Rick Thomas 

Rick Thomas was a leader and mentor who saw potential in those he met. As a supervisor, Thomas sought strong relationships with his staff. Thomas was known for working to create a culture of belonging on campus that would connect students for life. He made this same effort within ACUI, serving on various committees focused on ensuring the Association was a welcoming space for women and the LGBTQ+ community. Thomas retired from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in August 2022 after more than 25 years in the profession. 

2023 Recipient: Brad Vest

Brad Vest leads with his heart. This is true of his work on campus and within ACUI. On campus, he continually encourages students and professional staff, offering assistance and keeping his team together through success and challenging times. He served as director of ACUI Region 5/III during a time of transition, always seeking ways to make the experience smooth and positive for members. Vest will retire in July 2023 from Appalachian State University after more than 20 years in the profession. 

2023 Recipient: Laurie Woodward

During her time in the profession, Laurie Woodward was interested in the connection between higher education and society, as well as leadership development for college students. Woodward is retiring from her role as director at the University of Oregon after serving for more than 15 years in the field. 

I’ve had a wonderful career, received so much more than I gave. Worked with hundreds (maybe thousands) of wonderful students.  Had some amazing mentors (Joe Benedict, Bill Brattain, Dave Kratzer, Bill Rion, Phyllis Marshall), made some great friends, and spent time at some really wonderful schools.

  • CW Post was an amazing place to be an undergrad. I learned who I was and what I wanted to do while I was there. Joe B. introduced me to ACUI and taught me that this student union stuff could be a career.
  • Western Illinois helped me to hone my skills and prepared me for the next steps. Bill B. helped me to understand that it was about the students and that it was a selfless kind of work.
  • University of South Dakota was a great first job! At a smaller school, I got to try a little bit of everything and really learned to walk the fence between administration and student advocate!
  • University of Florida opened my eyes. Dave Kratzer taught me how to be a good boss, and I got to watch Art Sandeen in action.  Ethics, values, and people!
  • USF was my home for a long time. I switched from vctivities to operations and learned to blend the two. Finally learned to respect and appreciate the business side of what we do, and got to try my hand at a little bit of construction/renovation.
  • MSU was all about community. I learned how to build one, how to really bring a team together and do good things for students.  I learned that new buildings need to be maintained, and that budgets are political. I also really learned how important the student union can be to the whole community (more than just the university!).
  • At the University of Oregon, I got to put it all together! Rebuilding the Erb Memorial Union was a dream project, made possible because of the work of folks who came before me (Dusty Miller, Greg Lobbiser, and Robin Holmes) and the work of a really dedicated group of staff (Jessi Steward, Rick Haught, Ellen Grant, Dan Geiger, and so many others). I reaffirmed my conviction that place and program are so entwined that belonging happens when the two are connected. If students feel comfortable in their space, they will laugh and play and learn; they will fail and succeed and try again. Student unions are precious spaces, and I have been so lucky to have a career that made me the caretaker of those spaces.

I’ve loved every minute of the work I’ve done. And hope I’ve left everyone I’ve interacted with a little bit stronger, happier, and more prepared for whatever comes next. It’s been an honor and a pleasure, and I look forward to watching the next generation take the reins!

Submission materials must include the following:

  1. Name, institution, and contact information of the nominee.
  2. Name, institution, and contact information of the nominator.
  3. At least one letter in support of the applicant to receive the award written by individual(s) such as direct supervisors/advisors, peers/colleagues, students, faculty members, etc., addressing:
    • The achievements of the nominee in the profession.
    • The demonstrated commitment of the nominee to the criteria identified for this specific award.
    • A summary of the nominee’s background to provide evidence that they meet the criteria identified for this specific award, including information related to professional experience and volunteer service—providing a current resume for the nominee is optional.

Note that only one nomination is necessary for a nominee to be considered, and the identity of the nominator will not be disclosed during the selection process.

The submission deadline is December 8.

Note: The submission process is updated this year through our new membership platform—which means applications can autofill with your profile information, be saved as pending for edits until you officially submit, and be stored for your future access. In order to submit an application, you will need to create an account login, if you don’t already have one.

At a minimum, individuals eligible for this award must:

  • Have ten years of employment in the profession at ACUI member institutions; or be a non-union/activities professional who has rendered exceptional service to ACUI, but has left the profession in pursuit of other careers.
  • Be retiring or have retired within a year of nomination.

Nominators will receive electronic notification confirming receipt of materials. This honor is conferred by the Board of Trustees. A physical award will be given to the recipients, who will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference and in subsequent publications.

  • 2022: Beth Bailey, Justin Camputaro, Hollie Lutz, Denny Olsen, Michael Swanigan
  • 2021: Carolyn E. Farley, Tom Hauber, Barbara Niemi, Carole Reed, Floyd Taliaferro, and Valerie Wetzel
  • 2020: Jimmie Baker, Charlie Francis, Steve Gnadt, Tina Pinocci, Rachel Wussow
  • 2019: Terry Clayton, Kris Corda, Ronald Dunkel, John Herbst, Paul Knell, Brenda Keagle, MaryAnne Lustgraaf, Frank Marsilli, Otis Mamed, Clarresa Morton, Marilyn Prime, and Paul Zuchowski
  • 2018: Patrick Brown, Randall Hedge, James Hoppa, Ellen Kusano, Thomas Molski, and Jane Rhyner
  • 2017: William Brown, Lynn Cacha, Leslie Davis, Anita Douglas, Deborah Felder, Carol Garcia, Ed Knoll, Bruce Morgan, and Gregory Tatham
  • 2016: Guy Conway, Jim Herrman, Gail Olyha
  • 2015: Lydia Anderson, William Clutter, Marguerite Elliott, Bart Hall, Bruce Hamilton, Jim Schuster, and Tony Trimarco
  • 2014: Donald Castle, Richard Heller, Bruce Jacobs, Karen Mehnert-Meland, Larry Mosher, David Robertson, Thom Simmons, and Robert Yecke
  • 2013: Dan Cornthwaite, Charles Morrell, Gale Swanka, and Margaret Vos
  • 2012: Leland Bennett, Jonathan Curtis, Alan Kirby, Helga Kray, Andy Rhoades, and Thomas Trimble
  • 2011: Jack Connaughton, John Drinkwater, Candy Holt, Karen Jones Thomas, Bruce Michaels, Charles Miller, Barbara Ross, Gloria Schultz, Audrey Schwimmer, and Carol Tuttle
  • 2010: Mary Blair, Mary Covell, Paul Franklin, Brenda Goupee, Larry Huisman, Mary Keller, Deborah Matthews, Terry McGlincy, Wyl Parker, T.J. Petropoulos, William Steil, Kitty Willis, Mary Yates, and Randy Zarn
  • 2009: Allen Bertelsen, Joseph Comeau, William Dee, Rowland Hughes, Larry Markley, and Donnchadh O’hAodha
  • 2008: Louis Camera, David Johnson, Carol Raske, Mary Robinson, and Marc Tuchman
  • 2007: Vicki Fete, Cassandra Gassaway, Kaycee Schilke, and Ed Stansell
  • 2006: Jay Anderson, Earl Cashon, David Hertz, Phyllis Kuhl, J. Ryck Luthi, James Reynolds, T.J. Rutherford, and Tom Shubert
  • 2005: Charles Huber, Harvey McKee, Linda Offman, Thomas Peters, Daryl Swanson, Annie Thornton, and John Wright
  • 2004: Charles Huber, Robert Schneeweiss, Roger Eslinger, Ruben Santos, Fay Sharman, and Jack Smith
  • 2003: Thomas Webb and Timothy Wilmot
  • 2002: Sally Allison-Bland and Helen Welford
  • 2001: Ted Crabb
  • 2000: Colleen Hennessy, Edward Snyder, and Lyle Ward
  • 1999: Shirley Adkins, David Elmore, and Donald Hinde
  • 1998: Donald Carter, Spencer Marston, and Vern Solbach
  • 1997: Robert Brookover, Frank Harris, and Phil Hirsch
  • 1996: Francis Atkinson, Lorna Dawes, Clark Drummond, E. Max Fleetwood, Dallas Garber, Eleanor Kurtz, Richard Naumann, Rodger Pruis, Gail Steinhilber, and Lorraine Wales
  • 1995: William Blain, Harold Closson, Delores Donnelly, John Ellinger, Thomas Levitan, and Maurice Seeman