2024 Board of Trustees Elections

Candidate profiles for the current Board of Trustees elections are available below. Eligible voting members will receive notices regarding voting in the election via the voting system: OpaVote. The election will occur from November 1 to November 30 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Results will be announced in early December.

Ranked Choice Voting will be used for the election, which means voters can cast a ballot for all of the candidates, ranking their top candidate first, followed by other candidates according to their preference for selection. A more detailed description of ranked choice voting can be found here, and a YouTube explanation is here.

Candidates in elections have been asked not to campaign on their behalf, and the same is asked of all ACUI members. All of the information below was submitted by the candidates; the content has not been edited by ACUI. You are encouraged to contact candidates with any questions regarding their candidacy. Note that candidate statements and information below is shown as submitted and was not edited by ACUI.

There are two candidates for one president-elect position, which carries a three-year commitment. Select a name to read the full candidate profile. In October, the two candidates participated in a Meet the Candidate webinar. You may view this online.

Statement of Candidacy

ACUI faces challenging strategic issues involving our post-pandemic workforce and volunteer member engagement, growing political polarization that interrupts our ability to advance community, and accelerating financial changes in higher education. Despite these challenges, I am confident ACUI will evolve and persist in delivering community and belonging as we have since 1914.  

In a post-pandemic world, it is apparent that students need, more than ever, the sense of belonging and the interpersonal skills taught in our Unions. However, many institutions are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic and great resignation. As union professionals are increasingly stretched, ACUI is challenged to re-engage and equip an evolving volunteer membership. ACUI programs including College Unions Student Affairs Certification can retool our profession while the Regional Engagement Task Force Report and the pursuit of new members should guide the creation of ACUI’s strategic plan. 

Growing polarization threatens ACUI member institutions’ ability to program openly in alignment with ACUI’s core values of “unconditional human worth” and “diversity.” Progress toward inclusive communities faces mounting political and legal challenges even as the social, mental health, and basic needs of our diverse student populations multiply. ACUI must aggressively communicate the value of both the role of the college union and ACUI in contemporary higher education.  

I fell in love with ACUI, attending ILEAD as an undergrad during the 1995 Annual conference. Now, as I complete my second term on the Board of Trustees, I know that my ACUI volunteer journey has prepared me to serve the Association at this critical juncture. My service as Regional Director in (former) Region 8, as well as multiple roles on Regional Leadership Teams, helps me appreciate the degree to which ACUI depends on the hard work of regional volunteers. Serving on the Education Council and as an ILEAD facilitator impressed upon me the transformative capacity of educationally-purposeful community. My work on three annual Conference Program Teams taught me the importance of the conference to the Association’s budget, as well as the way these in-person meetings strengthen our community. 

At both large public universities and small private colleges, I have managed teams through brutal financial times while advancing renovation projects, implementing new revenue streams, and promoting community. I continue to work for social justice, advocating for change and promoting belonging and inclusion.  

Ultimately, my 25-year volunteer history, my professional experience, and my love for ACUI equips me to successfully serve as President-Elect. 

Candidate Information

Ian Crone is the director, Student Union at the University of Tennessee and may be directly reached at icrone@utk.edu.

Educational Background
  • INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON, IN – Master of Science in Education, Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY, VALPARAISO, IN – Bachelor of Arts in English/Secondary Education

Statement of Candidacy

As we start to emerge from the trauma of the pandemic, the country, and therefore ACUI, have all felt the strain of adjusting to the new normal. Our students come to us with different realities and world views and the professionals in the field have a differentiated view of the field. The Great Resignation has morphed into a new normal for employment satisfaction levels and our field is not immune.  

It is time now, to strive forward and re-imagine what ACUI can be in this new normal. We need to re-ignite the fire that kept us in our roles at our institutions and bring that fire to volunteering in ACUI.   

I see an Association that can transform itself to be a leader for young professionals in the field that needs guideposts through this uncertain period and an organization that creatively invigorates our seasoned members into new roles. We are at a watershed moment in time and if we push forward with new ideas and direction, our beloved ACUI will find itself as a sought-after organization for professionals in the student union world.  

I promise to respect and uplift all identities in ways that make sense for them. I hope to examine previously untapped human resources in all our regions and to problem-solve with them to ensure we stay healthy at that level.  

Lastly, I hope to remind our members, current and prospective, of the family nature of ACUI. I miss our ACUI hugs and look forward to having them be commonplace once again, for those who want and miss them. I mean that both physically and metaphorically. We are at our strongest when we act like family.  It is easy to leave an organization. It is much harder to leave a caring family. That’s what has always separated us from all the other professional organizations and I, for one, would love the honor of hugging our members as the next President-elect of ACUI. 

Candidate Information

Hayden Greene is associate dean of students and director of the intercultural center at Marymount Manhattan College  and may be reached directly at hgreene2@mmm.edu.

Educational Background
  • Masters in Higher Education/Counseling – Montclair State University 
  • Bachelors in Business Management, Baruch College, CUNY 

Ian Crone
University of Tennessee

Hayden Greene
Marymount Manhattan College

There are five candidates for three at-large member positions, which carry a two-year commitment. Select a name to read the full candidate profile.

Statement of Candidacy

ACUI’s mission is to support campus community builders. Currently, campuses and the field of Student Affairs (SA) are facing significant challenges such as enrollment declines, budget shortages, staff vacancies, and fewer incoming graduate students pursuing SA degrees. ACUI is facing similar challenges with a changing landscape, budget challenges, and fewer volunteers to conduct the work of the association. As the Board of Trustees is developing a new strategic plan, they must think outside of the box and ensure the association aligns with the changing nature of higher education and supports current needs and challenges of campus community builders.  

To be successful, the association will need to address the engagement gap in participation and volunteers and in doing so, may need to reevaluate our policies, procedures, and finances in how we accomplish our work. Our regions are also needing additional support, as identified by the Regional Engagement Task Force. We need to inspire others to continue the work and support the association. During a time of change, connection and transparency will be vital. We also need to continue to provide valuable resources on trends and best practices, as our entire world of Student Affairs is shifting. Additionally, many states are implementing policies that make DEI work and initiatives challenging. We must actively help our communities to provide safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments for all students and staff.  

I would be honored to serve as a Board of Trustees. My strength as a relator will enable me to gain and share important feedback from our members, associates, and volunteers, which is vital to informing how we serve. As a strategic thinker, I examine every challenge knowing there are solutions waiting to be discovered. I am good at gaining input and putting ideas together to solve problems. I also am an adept financial manager, which could help in understanding our budget limitations and how we can be frugal and intentional with our resources. I have done similar work at my institution and as a former Region II, Regional Director. Financial stability is essential to continuing our work. In terms of social justice, I am committed to ensuring we listen to the needs and voices of everyone in our association and take action to support their needs. Also, my experience as a co-chair for the Regional Engagement Task Force will assist me in contributing to the work of the association and upcoming strategic goals.

Candidate Information

Wendy Denman is the executive director at the University of North Texas and may be contacted directly at wendy.denman@unt.edu.

Educational Background
  • Ed.D in Higher Education | Texas A&M University-Commerce
    Dissertation – Experiences of Highly Involved Students in Extracurricular Activities, Available from ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2019. 27668113.
  • M. S. Student Affairs in Higher Education | Colorado State University 
  • B. S. Human Development and Family Studies | Colorado State University 

Statement of Candidacy

As an international member of ACUI from Canada, I am pleased to have the opportunity to present my candidacy for an ACUI Director-at-Large position.  If elected, there are several strategic issues that I would assist the organization to address. 

Technological: I believe that ACUI’s web and commerce platforms require redevelopment to better serve the membership.  I am pleased to hear that these tools are currently being improved, however I believe that care needs to be taken to roll them out effectively.   

Regional and Competency-Based Programming:  Seeing regional programming struggle in the face of budget and logistic challenges, a greater focus on competency-based programming (i.e. the Facilities Management Seminar or the Collegiate Marketing Institute) may provide a more compelling opportunity for professional development outside of the Annual Conference cycle.   

Internationalization: I believe a more intentional engagement strategy could assist the organization to build international membership capacity.  Looking at Canada, ACUI isn’t as well-attended or supported by my Canadian colleagues as it could be, and I would be pleased to support efforts to build this community further. 

Demographic and Enrollment Change: Many schools are facing a generational decline in enrollment, while others face significant growth in international recruitment in response.  ACUI should continue to focus on how to better address and support these realities within our campuses. 

Building a Strong Voice for Student Affairs and Services Practitioners: Within a neoliberal framework, many institutions have difficulties understanding the important role and value that student life practitioners play in ensuring effective post-secondary recruitment, retention and completion.  We need to take steps to articulate our value on the campuses we serve, and support our members to share this story. 

Focusing on these priorities, I believe I could be an effective board member for ACUI for a variety of reasons.   

I have studied politics and not-for-profit management, and have held a variety of elected and appointed roles within significantly sized not-for-profit organizations and municipal organizations.  As Managing Director for Sheridan Student Union Inc., I currently lead an organization of over 275 employees serving a student community of approximately 27,000 just outside of Toronto, Ontario.  

I have a keen appreciation for the value of our work, and believe that we need to speak strongly regarding our roles in an era of declining enrolment and budget support. 

Candidate Information

Jamie King is the managing director, Sheridan Student Union Inc. at Sheridan College and may be reached directly at jamie.king@sheridancollege.ca.

Educational Background

I have a Master of Education- Leadership and Administration from Brock University (2020), and an undergraduate degree – major, Political Science and minor, English from the University of Guelph (1995). 

I am a not-for-profit professional with experience holding a variety of roles, including post-secondary positions focused on advancement and student life management. 

Statement of Candidacy

I believe there are four overarching issues ACUI must strategically address to ensure the continued impact and success of the association. 

Elevating our Individual Members: The engagement of membership within ACUI is vital for fostering a sense of community, collaboration, and the collective pursuit of building common goals. Member engagement allows for the exchange of knowledge and best practices, creates an environment for innovative ideas, and facilitates networking opportunities. In our post-pandemic world, we must find a variety of ways for our members to be active in ACUI. 

Elevating the Next Generation: Attending various ACUI events I am impressed and excited about the “younger” student affairs professionals I have met. In order for our profession and association to stay successful, we need to create impactful opportunities for a new generation to assume leadership roles and to ensure the systems and structures are in place to bring new colleagues into the ACUI community.  This is paramount for our profession’s continued success. 

Elevating our Voice: As an association, we have a responsibility to be a voice for any injustice that impacts the members of our community–whether that be our students, our colleagues, or our institutions. In my career, I, along with many student affairs professionals have spoken up and been active in support of a broad definition of civil rights and the dignity of all peoples; free speech; and issues of access and equity on our campuses and in our local communities. This must continue to be a key pillar for ACUI.  

Elevating the Financial Health:  The work of the Board of Trustees is vital to maintain the financial health of the organization through prioritizing resources, expenses, and growing additional revenue to maintain the educational portfolio which has been developed, while also being innovative to bring new and exciting services and programs to ACUI members.  

On a personal level I would bring to the Board of Trustees a strong work ethic; an individual who has experience with fiscal and personnel management; and the ability to look at the possibilities and not the barriers; on action not words; on challenges not complacency. Other key experiences include: an understanding of the DEI culture of ACUI, the association’s successes as well as the association’s shortcomings; strategic thinking and planning experience; and a mindset to be an effective listener and negotiator for the board and the association to think win-win.

Candidate Information

Keith Kowalka is the assistant vice president for student affairs at the University of Houston and can be reached directly at kkowalka@uh.edu.

Educational Background
  • Arkansas State University (current doctoral student; expected graduation, June 2026)
    Educational Doctorate: Educational Administration with an emphasis in Higher Education
  • Eastern Michigan University: Ypsilanti, Michigan
    Master of Arts: Guidance and Counseling with an emphasis on College Student Personnel            
  • The University of Toledo: Toledo, OhioBachelor of Arts: Political Science / Management 
    Bachelor of Arts: Communication / Marketing 
  • Certified CliftonStrengths Coach 
  • Qualified Administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory

Statement of Candidacy

I am interested in serving on the ACUI Board of Trustees to provide strategic leadership to the Association and position it for long term success at this pivotal time in higher education.  

Several important issues face the Board as it sets the new strategic plan:  

  • Our workforce continues to evolve. ACUI’s role is to provide education and other services to prepare members to lead and manage in this environment. ACUI’s partnerships in higher education to monitor the changing workforce are critical to providing the services members need.  
  • The Association’s financial position is critical to support the needs of members, and most importantly to support the next strategic plan.  
  • State legislative efforts to reduce funding and enact harmful policies against people and overall diversity, equity, inclusion and justice work are impacting our membership – professionally and personally. These harmful legislative efforts reinforce the need for ACUI’s commitment to DEI and belonging more than ever.  

I have 25 years of experience in college unions, including eight as the Senior Director for University Unions and Auxiliary Services in Student Life at the University of Michigan. My responsibilities include leading 50 staff and 250 student employees, three student union facilities, a $20 million budget, the Center for Campus Involvement (1400 student orgs and 300+ annual programs), Campus Information, and Conference and Events Services. I lead with a mission focus – to create community and spaces for students to learn and thrive – along with significant experience navigating auxiliary funding models.  

I regularly lead my team in considering long term strategy for our facilities and programs, including developing strategic priorities, ensuring alignment with Divisional priorities, as well as managing many day to day needs of a large, comprehensive student union organization.  

As a white, heterosexual woman leading a large organization at a Big Ten institution, I recognize my privilege. I regularly engage in understanding of my identities, power and privilege, as well as the intersecting identities of others. I value listening, and work to ensure multiple voices are heard. 

I have volunteered at the international level of my sorority for more than 20 years, including eight on our international leadership body. Specifically, I provided leadership to move the board from an operational board to a governance board focused on strategy, which is very similar to the ACUI Board of Trustees. 

Candidate Information

Susan Pile is the senior director, university unions and auxiliary services at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and can be reached directly at pile@umich.edu.

Educational Background
  • Master of Education, Higher Education Administration, University of Illinois, Urbana
  • Master of Science, Elementary Education, Indiana University, Indianapolis  
  • Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education, cum laude, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 

Statement of Candidacy

With over 20 years of experience in Higher Education and being an active member of ACUI, I had the opportunity to learn and gain various perspectives that will help me serve as Board member.  There are many pressing issues we are facing in Higher Education and within in the Association. With staff members leaving post-covid, causing uncertainty on campuses and within professional organizations that depend on member engagement and volunteers. The association is currently facing issues around membership involvement and the perceived value it provides to member institutions and individuals. With many institutions currently facing economic challenges, along with greater pressure and obligations on their home campuses, many members are now required to “sell” why memberships in an association, attending conferences, and volunteering time are beneficial to their professional growth especially when looking to do create these experiences in specialty associations.  It is crucial for ACUI to develop marketing and communication plans to ensure institutions are aware of what they will get from their membership. The involvement of members also impacts educational content and engagement across the association, as ACUI depends on the knowledge of the community to educate and support professionals across the country. This is essential for professionals as they seek experiences that will correspond with their career aspirations and growth. Developing a long-term plan to engage and connect with current and new members is going to set the association up for the future.  It is important to remember that member engagement also impacts the volunteer experience and financial well-being of the association. Therefore, in order for ACUI to be sustainable on all levels, we need to focus on membership. This is crucial as the landscape of Higher Education and Student Affairs is revolving and changing quickly. I have the ability to observe situations and analyze the landscape to assist in the forward progress.  Along with my professional experience, I have been involved in ACUI and served in several volunteer roles. Even when not volunteering, I have been an engaged and committed member of ACUI. These skills allow me to see the past, but understand the needs for change and forward movement, especially after the past three years. It is important for us to remember the value of our work and how we play an integral part in mission of our institutions, and I can do that by bringing folks together with different opinions, values, and experiences together. 

Candidate Information

Philip Smith is the assistant dean of students, student basic needs at Rutgers University and may be contacted directly at phillip.smith@rutgers.edu.

Educational Background

I completed my undergraduate degree in business administration-marketing at Shaw University, an HBCU in Raleigh, NC where I was also a student-athlete. I completed my master’s degree at the University of Akron in Higher Education Administration. I recently completed an Ed.D. in 2023 from Temple University in Higher Education. Lastly. I have completed one year of an MBA program with Rutgers University that I also plan to complete soon. 

At-Large Member
Wendy Denman
University of North Texas

At-Large Member
Jamie King
Sheridan College

At-Large Member
Keith Kowalka
University of Houston

At-Large Member
Susan Pile
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

At-Large Member
Philip Smith
Rutgers University

There are many situations in which ACUI members are asked for their vote. For instance, Board of Trustees or regional director elections and some new initiatives or bylaw changes that require member approval. To be eligible to vote in any ACUI election, you must be a member at an institution in good standing.  Each institution has 5 voting members. Voters must be roster members at a member institution in good standing with ACUI at least one day prior to the ballot being available and in compliance with voting eligibility as defined in Article III, Section 3 of the ACUI Constitution. Regional elections are limited to those members in the particular region holding the election.

If you have any questions regarding ACUI elections, please contact the ACUI Central Office at 812.245.2284 or acui@acui.org.