Yudof expresses support for union project on Radio K

by Stacy Jo

University President Mark Yudof ended his neutral stance on the Coffman Union renovations during a Radio K address Sunday morning, supporting the student decision to spend $45 million for a face lift.
“I thought it was a wonderful day for the University,” Yudof said of the Student Services Fees Committee’s Saturday decision.
Despite the controversy surrounding Coffman Union officials’ fees request, Yudof said he thought the decision of the 13 student committee members represented the student opinion accurately.
He called the committee’s decision “an exercise in representative democracy.” But, he added, “I’m sure there will be some disappointed people on campus.”
The student union is a significant element in administrators’ long-awaited South Mall project — an effort to improve student traffic in the area south of Washington Avenue Southeast that includes parking, housing and union renovations. The Board of Regents approved the parking component of the project in February.
Yudof acknowledged that while Coffman Union renovations are not essential to completing the South Mall project, it would have been difficult to go ahead without the centerpiece of the entire area.
He added that with more than $450 million tied up in campus building projects — including the union renovation — students are providing funds for only a small portion of construction projects.
“This is the students picking up less than 10 percent of all these building projects on campus and about a third of what we’ll spend on (the South Mall) area of campus,” Yudof said.
Yudof said the next building to think about renovating would be Northrop Auditorium. Similar to Coffman Union, Northrop Auditorium is not eligible for legislative funding because it is not an academic building.
In addition to discussion about the fees committee’s decision, Yudof also stumped for the University’s budget request and learned about the governor’s proposal to cut funding for public radio.