The Role of ACUI’s Education Council — And How You Can Get Involved

ACUI’s core competencies are foundational to the advancement of both members and the Association — and behind the scenes, there’s a group responsible for ensuring the Association’s strategic vision falls in line with them.

Meet the Education Council, a group of eight volunteers that works with leadership to oversee the Association’s long-term goals, set the tone for educational programs and services, and serve as champions of continual learning for ACUI members.

Their work includes the development of ACUI’s Educational Plan, a two-year playbook focused on three core competencies designed to serve the needs of a broad and diverse membership. “The education plan helps us ensure the core competencies are present in everything from online programs to the annual conference,” said Education Council volunteer Lanita Legan, who works as the associate director of the LBJ Student Center at Texas State University.

For example, the council designed the 2020–22 Education Plan around the core competencies of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research; Event Management; and Social Justice, based on data collected from membership.

“We have an overarching vision for ACUI’s educational programs and services; we think strategically about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” said Education Council volunteer Dean Smith, the director of student centers at East Carolina University. “We’re responsible for assessing member needs — we ask questions to determine what people want to see, what they enjoyed, and what’s missing. We also actively recruit subject matter experts to present at conferences and events.”

While ACUI’s core competencies are at the heart of the Education Council, the group drills down even further to ensure four threads are integrated throughout all core competencies: Communication, Education, Technology, and Equity. Lastly, the volunteers work from a core competencies rubric to help identify where planned programs and services will fall in terms of experience level (basic, intermediate, advanced, or expert).

To facilitate continuous improvement, the council conducts focus groups at the end of each Educational Plan to gather qualitative data from members about competency growth. The council also generates and provides a report to ACUI’s Board of Trustees detailing their success with several target metrics, such as “At least five webinars focused on the targeted core competencies will be presented over a one-year period.” 

Ultimately, the Education Council plays a pivotal role in seeing that ACUI members have ample opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills they need in the field. As a result of the council’s work, ACUI provides targeted programming designed to address the core competencies, and ACUI members increase their knowledge of them.

Volunteering for the Education Council

Jackie Grinvalds, director of student center operations and events at Emory University, said her experiences as a volunteer on the Education Council have helped enhance her skills in the areas of assessment, evaluation, and research. “This role is very cerebral — it stretches that strategic part of your brain in a way that you might not experience in your day-to-day work,” she said.

Legan, who has volunteered for several regional and association-wide roles, said the Education Council provides a 30,000-foot view of ACUI’s inner workings. “One of the things that I appreciate most about this experience is that we have an opportunity to impact the whole association,” she said.

Education Council volunteer Simón Franco, the assistant director of student activities and leadership at the University of Minnesota–Morris, said the role helped him get involved with ACUI while acquiring knowledge about the Association and how it operates. “It’s a good opportunity to connect the work that is being done at a regional level with the international level,” he said.

If you’re interested in volunteering for a three-year term on the Education Council, visit the volunteer page on the ACUI website to get started. If you know a colleague who is well-suited for the position, complete the nomination form here. Applications for this opportunity are due December 2 — so don’t wait!


  • Christine Preusler

    Christine Preusler, Managing Editor at The Wyman Company in Gainesville, Florida, writes The Lead for ACUI's biweekly newsletter, The Bulletin. Christine uses more than 15 years of experience in publication management and a master’s in mass communications from the University of Florida to highlight the latest industry news and create thought-provoking content. Contact her via email ( with story ideas and announcements you'd like to see in the newsletter.