The Presidential Award for Distinguished Service is presented at the discretion of the ACUI President to honor an individual who has demonstrated exceptional and unique service in fulfilling the mission, goals, and values of the Association. Through the award, the individual is recognized for dedication to volunteering, encouraging staff to participate in ACUI programs, and advancing the work of ACUI through their contributions.


Sarah Aikman is the interim assistant vice president for student engagement at Northern Kentucky University. She concluded her second term as chair of the Education and Research Fund in 2022; but that is just piece of a long list of volunteer roles and achievements. Aikman also served as president from 2015–16, an at-large Board of Trustees members, and chaired the 2014 Conference Program Team, where ACUI celebrate its 100th birthday. Throughout the years, Aikman served in various other regional and international roles, always finding a way to make a positive impact.

During the award presentation at the 2023 Annual Conference, ACUI President Deepti Chadee said this: “When I think of an ACUI Champion, this individual comes top of mind. Whether it has been through the countless volunteer roles they have held, engaging mentorship to help new professionals find their place in the field, or calling up peers and colleagues to strongly encourage them to donate to the various efforts we have to advance our communities. This individual has been instrumental to the establishment our Legacy Leader program and rallied our association amidst the pandemic to ensure others had the ability to engage with ACUI through the Financial Assistance Fund. This individual continues to be a mentor and role model to myself and others in the profession, by using their voice and continuously demonstrating how to stay engage with ACUI as a volunteer.”

In considering eligible candidates, a President may take into account the volunteer contributions of an individual or individuals that occurred during their tenure as President-Elect and/or President of the Association. The President has the option, if they choose, to not present the award during their term of office. An individual is not required to hold a defined volunteer position to be considered for this award.

The process for selecting an awardee is at the discretion of the President, who is encouraged but not required to seek input from the Executive Committee.

  • If the President chooses not to give the award, they must notify the Executive Committee of this decision by Jan. 31.
  • If choosing to present the award, the President shall make a selection by January 31 and notify the Executive Committee that the award will be presented and to whom the award is being given.
  • One physical award will be given to the recipient, who will be recognized during the annual conference and in subsequent publications.
  • 2022: Elizabeth Beltramini, ACUI; Geoff Combs, University of Massachusetts–Boston
  • 2020: Deepti Chadee, Texas Christian University
  • 2019: Anthony Otero, Rutgers University
  • 2018: Sarah Comstock, University of Puget Sound
  • 2016: Patrick Connelly, Landmark College; and Mark Guthier, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • 2015: Ben Williams, Miami University
  • 2014: Brenda Evans, University of Massachusetts–Lowell; Jeremy Schenk, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Cynthia Woolbright, Woolbright Group
  • 2001: Caryl Stern-LaRosa, Anti-Defamation League
  • 2000: Bill Hellams, Video Producers
  • 1999: Peter DeLisle, seminar facilitator
  • 1996: Eric Conn, American Honda Campus All-Star Challenge
  • 1994: Gail Anderson Cywinski, Normandale Community College; and Pat Moonen, University of Arizona
  • 1992: Elizabeth Wright, Tuskegee University
  • 1991: Michael Freeman, University College London Students’ Union
  • 1989: Jerry Mock, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • 1988: Meg O’Sullivan, SUNY Health-Science Center at Brooklyn