The Association of College Unions International has recognized Danielle Mancuso, SOU’s associate director of student life, with the organization’s Excellence in Volunteer Service Award.
Mancuso served as the association’s 2019 Region IV Conference coordinator and co-chair, and developed the first joint regional conference in ACUI’s modern regional structure. Mancuso has held volunteer positions with the association for two years.
“Working for ACUI is so rewarding and fulfilling,” Mancuso said. “I count on my time at these conferences to rejuvenate and to learn. What I appreciate most about being in service to this organization are the talented and committed colleagues that I connect with regularly.”
ACUI is the professional home to thousands of campus community builders around the world, primarily focused on the work of those in the college unions and student activities field. The Excellence in Volunteer Service Award acknowledges individuals for their success and loyalty to ACUI during the previous 12 months in a volunteer role.
“Two weeks into my role as Conference Chair, I was asked if I would be interested in collaborating with Region I (another 5 states) to create a joint conference,” Mancuso said. “It meant more people and the opportunity to host a conference at University Nevada, Reno, at the Joe Crowley Student Union.
“It was amazing to lead a team of seasoned professionals, mentors, mid-level and new professionals. From the beginning of planning the conference, we designated a theme and a purpose, everything we did was rooted in that purpose – ‘Collaborations for a Common Vision.’”
The volunteer award recipient is chosen based on a high level of engagement that affirms ACUI’s value of professional service, validating their leadership, passion and contribution to the association.
“Mancuso’s work, vision and action has been centered on a deep and constant care for the experience of others,” the ACUI said. “A true storyteller, they succeeded in spinning a narrative throughout the joint regional conference that supported delegates in reflecting upon how identity shapes our stories.”
Mancuso’s achievements in professional service are significant to the association and to SOU. Mancuso began at Southern Oregon University in 2008 as Commuter & Veterans Resource Center Coordinator, and has positively impacted the SOU student experience for the past 12 years.
“In higher education, we engage in collaboration with departments, community partners, staff and faculty, organizations,” Mancuso said. “Our work is about people and processes. I was determined to put people and our stories of coming together at the center of this conference. I think what is most meaningful to me is that of the 400 conference attendees, 11 of them were SOU students. It is so much more meaningful to share in this good work with them.
“At the closing of the conference, I had a number of colleagues and mentors approach me and say it was the best ACUI Regional Conference they had been to – they said it met the National Conference Standards. I was so heartened that the intention we had set as a team came to pass. This award is a symbol, an acknowledgement from people that I deeply respect that are telling me that my leadership is strong, recognized and needed.”
Story by Kennedy Cartwright, SOU Marketing and Communications assistant and student writer