By Erik Moore
Seventy-five years ago this fall, Coffman Memorial Union opened to the campus community and public.
The union was named after President Lotus Coffman in 1939 prior to its opening. Coffman famously began the launch of the building campaign in 1936 with the words, “Someday, the University of Minnesota will have a student union as the center of its social life.”
The total cost for completion was estimated at $1,975,028.60. Of that, $650,000 was to be raised through private donations, including a campaign drive among faculty, students, and alumni.
When it opened, the student population was 20,461.
Before Coffman Union, two separate unions were maintained on the main Minneapolis campus – Nicholson Hall for men and Shevlin Hall for women.
See a larger exhibit devoted to Coffman Union’s 75 years from Student Unions & Activities.
—Erik Moore is the University Archivist and Co-Director of the University Digital Conservancy. To learn more about the University of Minnesota Archives, please visit www.lib.umn.edu/uarchives.