Past President Bill Spelman Passes Away

Bill Spelman passed away March 13, 2024. Spelman served as ACUI president from September 1978–1980 and received honorary membership in 1989. Spelman served an extended term as president after the death of then-president Lyle Curtis mid-term. 

“Spelman was an admired leader within the Association,” said John Taylor, ACUI Chief Executive Officer. “He left an imprint on ACUI and many colleagues who he assisted in their career pursuits.”

During his presidency, Spelman worked tirelessly on negotiations regarding music copyright with representatives from other higher education associations; he continued this work after his term concluded. 

Spelman also held other volunteer roles during his career, including former Region 2 director, vice president for regional affairs, an at-large member of the Board of Trustees, and chair of the College Bowl Committee. 

Spelman credited ACUI Past President Max Andrews with introducing him to the college union field. While pursuing his master’s in student personal in higher education at New York University, Spelman met Andrews, who worked at the university. Upon his graduation in 1967, Spelman started his career at the Technical College at Alfred (known today as Alfred State College).

In 1973, Spelman accepted the position of director of the Todd Union and student activities at the University of Rochester. He immediately took on a major project: the financial planning and construction of the Wilson Commons. 

William Spelman

“His choices in staffing, interior design, and program were vital to making the Commons a successful operation,” Carol Prior said during his Honorary Membership recognition. 

In a 1980 Bulletin profile of Spelman, his staff wrote: “He is someone to whom his staff looks for support, direction, and confidence. Bill’s experience and task orientation have helped us, his staff, accomplish our jobs. He gives us support, counsel, and continuous appraisal. He is someone you want to work for and with.” 

Spelman went on to be named associate dean of students in 1983; he served in this role until 1989 when he left to pursue a new opportunity: founding and serving as president of Spelman Johnson Group, a search firm for leadership roles within education and associations. Spelman remained connected to ACUI as a sponsor, presenter, and donor.


  • Liz Stringer

    Liz Stringer serves as ACUI's director of outreach, overseeing the membership, marketing, branding, and member services areas of the Association. Stringer has been with ACUI for more than 15 years.

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