The Joseph H. Benedict Jr. Social Change Award for Racial Justice honors an institution that develops an outstanding social justice program that stimulates conversation and action among campus constituents. The recipient institution will receive $800 in recognition of their campus’s engagement with inclusive conversations and strategies which encourage institutional change and address racial injustices.

2023 Recipient: Various Voices, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh 

The goal of Various Voices is to create a more understanding, inclusive campus environment for the greatest success of all students. Programs were designed to foster an awareness of and conversation surrounding intersectional identities and impacts on social and professional systems in society. So far, offerings have included Black women in mental health career fields and the stigmas and barriers they have faced. Never underestimate giving college students and professionals the opportunity to share their story; it allows participants to understand a lived issue beyond the stories they may hear in about in the media or in textbooks. 

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

Submission materials must include the following:

  1. Name, institution, and contact information of the primary contact for the program.
  2. Title of the program.
  3. A summary, up to two pages, of the program, addressing:
    • Description of the program, including goals and intended outcomes.
    • Description and inclusion of the evaluation methods in place for the program, including brief rationale for choosing stated methods.
    • Evidence that the program meets the criteria identified for this specific award.
  4. And one compiled packet of additional supporting documentation for the program, which could include photos, marketing samples, course materials, budget information, testimonials, etc. No page limit exists, but only the first 15 pages will be considered by the review committee.

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.

The review process includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of the criteria listed below. Due to the wide variety of programs that can be considered, a program does not need to meet every criterion. The program must:

  • Identify clear goals and outcomes, including an articulation of the social justice issues/incidents being addressed.
  • Clearly demonstrate leadership in the profession and practices beyond what is standard.
  • Effectively increase awareness and engaged its desired constituencies as participants.
  • Demonstrate effort and success in creating campus dialogue on racial injustice, solutions or action plans for creating change, and/or achievements in policy changes or long-term commitments. 

All ACUI member institutions are eligible to apply for this award. For collaborative initiatives or partnerships, all institutions must be ACUI members. Eligible programs must:

  • Have taken place since the beginning of the previous academic year.
  • Serve as a model to other campuses for replication.
  • Achieve its stated program outcomes and objectives, with evaluation tools in place.
  • Agree to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published.

Electronic notification will be sent to confirm submissions have been received. A confidential Campus Awards Committee, appointed annually by the ACUI president, will review materials to make the selection. One recipient will be chosen, unless otherwise noted for the specific award. One physical award will be given to the recipient, who will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference and in subsequent publications.

  • 2021: Healing Space – California State University–Northridge
  • 2020: Students Advocating for Students – Marquette University
  • 2019: Tunnel of Oppression – Indiana University-Purdue University–Indianapolis
  • 2018: Conversations On Diversity & Equity – Northern Illinois University
  • 2017: Black Lives Matter Week – SUNY Old Westbury

About Joseph H. Benedict

As the “Black Lives Matter” movement stimulated considerable discussion about blatant and subtle racial injustices toward people of color, Joseph H. Benedict Jr. noted the polarization that currently exists on college campuses, in the United States, and around the world, and that leadership is needed to develop and implement educational forums to discuss these challenging social issues. Through a generous gift from Benedict in 2016, this award was created to celebrate campus initiatives that stimulate conversation and develop action strategies for policy change that will address acts of bigotry and alleviate the injustice(s) identified.

A long-time ACUI member and volunteer, Benedict served as a regional director, chair for various committees, vice president for regional affairs, and on the Board of Trustees before becoming president in 1986. His career in higher education administration spans nearly 50 years, most recently serving as executive director of the student center at CUNY–Brooklyn College before his retirement in 2008. Benedict’s contributions to the college union and student activities field, as well as to the Association, were honored with the ACUI Butts-Whiting Award in 1994. He has been a mainstay of Region 3 and VII conferences for decades.