October 11, 2002
Union may be transferred to university
by Diana Pounds
A proposal to transfer the Memorial Union to the university will be
forwarded to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, for approval. Photo
by Bob Elbert.|
The Memorial Union, a non-profit corporation since it opened in 1928, soon
may become a more formal part of Iowa State University. Iowa State officials
will ask the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to accept the transfer of
property from the Memorial Union corporation. The regents have the
responsibility to acquire and control property on behalf of the state
Student leaders initiated the proposal to transfer the Union to the
university and have received the support of ISU President Gregory Geoffroy
and other university officials.
The transfer would allow for more extensive renovation of the facility and
subsequently, better services and programs for students, say T. J.
Schneider, student body president, and Andy Tofilon, president of the
Memorial Union Board of Directors.
The Union renovations that student leaders envision -- overall improvement
of the facility, an expanded bookstore, additional alumni space, a
multicultural center and modernization of all hotel rooms -- carries an
estimated price tag of $30 million. Improvements to the building would be
undertaken in phases.
"The current corporate structure doesn't allow for enough bonding and fund
raising to do the kind of renovations we want to do," Tofilon said. "If the
Union were part of the university, it could borrow more, as well as seek
fund-raising assistance from the ISU Foundation."
The separate corporate set-up of the Memorial Union is unusual among
university unions, said Warren Madden, vice president for business and
finance. However, it was necessary in the '20s when the Union was built,
because the university didn't have the authority to borrow the needed funds.
The early developers of the Union anticipated that the facility one day
would become Iowa State property. An agreement called for the automatic
transfer of Union to university, once the Memorial Union was debt-free or
the university agreed to assume its debt.
Under the proposal before the regents, Iowa State would agree to assume the
Memorial Union's approximate $4.7 million debt, which was incurred in the
recent renovations of the food court and parking ramp. Increases in student
fees and a new bond issue would be used to pay off the debt and underwrite
new renovations, Madden said.
If the Union is transferred to Iowa State, its employees will become
university employees. (The Union employs approximately 100 full-time staff
and several hundred part-time staff.) Union operations would be under the
supervision of vice president for student affairs Thomas Hill.
Students would continue to have responsibility for setting policies for use
of Union facilities and student programming, Schneider said. Students would
hold the majority of the seats on the Memorial Union Board of Directors and
would oversee programming through the Student Union Board.
The Memorial Union Board of Directors unanimously approved the proposal to
transfer the Union to the university at its Sept. 27 meeting. The ISU
Government of the Student Body will ratify the contract on behalf of ISU
ISU officials anticipate forwarding the proposal to the Board of Regents for
consideration at the regents November meeting.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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