Chris Hughes Distinguished Service Award


Photos provided except where noted, text by Glenn Carpenter, Moraine Valley Community College, UPAA president. Above left, Chris Hughes with two unmistakably 1980s photographic tools: A medium format film camera and a Vivitar 285. Above right, a more contemporary photo of Chris, who passed away in 2016.

Many may not remember Chris Hughes or perhaps even know his name, but for those of us who were involved in UPAA in in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s Chris is a giant in the UPAA world.

Chris’ contributions to UPAA are numerous: Symposium Host, author, webmaster, editor and historian. But none of these compare to Chris’ willingness to do whatever was necessary to help UPAA and its members. Couple the attitude of service with an amazing sense of hospitality and welcoming of new members to the organization, and you have an amazing person. 

Chris passed away October 16, 2016, and almost immediately the board began to discuss how we could honor him for his dedicated service to UPAA. Chris embodied service, and it is for this reason we chose to rename the Distinguished Service Award to the Chris Hughes Distinguished Service Award.

Bill Bitzinger remembers Chris at his last Symposium, “I have a fun memory from when I hosted in 2010. Chris was with a group of early arrivers and I took everyone down to my favorite knotty pine walled downtown bar. The menu changes in the evening and he had the walleye in mushroom cream sauce. He liked it so much that two nights later, he ditched a free all-you-can-eat dinner on campus and went back for the walleye again.”


Chris Hughes (circled in red) attended his last Symposium in 2010 at Ferris State.

Hospitable, friendly, willing to serve --but don’t be fooled-- Chris was very serious about security on the very first UPAA website. Once David Campbell was asking if we had a member at a certain college. I posted a link to the member’s directory information. Within seconds Chris was on the phone telling me to, “Never do that again!” I learned my lesson, and we had a good laugh about it. 

Speaking of David, Chris’ humor was legendary. In the early days we only had a listserv. David was very active on the listserve, so much so that Chris was amazed at his ability to post so quickly and frequently. As we approached the symposium Chris found an old keyboard and painted it gold to give to David as he approached 10,000 posts. 

Historian was the last position that Chris held for UPAA. He dedicated his time to scanning old documents and photos to be added to the website. After Chris’ passing Jim Dusen and Steve Mangione drove to Canada to retrieve the information. At that meeting they presented his wife Hughena with a vase commemorating the name change of the award. 


(photo by Steve Mangione) Former UPAA president Jim Dusen presents a commemorative vase to Chris' wife Hughena.

Jill Carpenter received the first Chris Hughes Distinguished Service award in 2019. Nick Romenenko nominated Jill for her service in running the Partners Program each year and organizing the Symposium registration table. Jill has missed only one Symposium since 2001. 


UPAA board member Ken Bennett presents the Chris Hughes Distinguished Service Award to Jill Carpenter at the 2019 Symposium awards banquet in Grand Rapids, MI. Almost every symposium attendee for nearly the last 20 years has been greeted cheerfully and helpfully by Jill at the registration desk. ...So many tote bags, so many lanyards!


“How does Santa keep track of all the fireplaces he’s visited? He keeps a log!” Suggestions? Submissions? Email editor Matt Cashore, Follow UPAA on Instagram!