Coffman could be a new home for

by Stacy Jo

Students of the future might drop by the computer lab to type a paper, dash into the bookstore and pop into the University president’s new office to say hello — without ever leaving the student union.
The recent interest in moving University President Mark Yudof’s office to the student union was mentioned in light of the Coffman Union renovation. On Saturday, the Student Services Fees Committee approved $37.5 million to renovate the student union.
Morrill Hall, which was built in the mid-1920s to house administration, has always been home to the president’s office, said Jennifer Molina, a student representative to the Board of Regents and one of the student leaders piloting the idea.
Although Yudof said he’s skeptical about changing locations, he favors the prospect of more contact with University students.
“It’s more positive to be with the students in Coffman than the tradition surrounding the evil center of the University — Morrill Hall,” Yudof said.
Yudof added that if he moved, his “entourage” would have to move as well, making the project more work than it would first appear to be.
While communication between administrators is most productive when they are housed near one another, anything to increase student access to their president would be beneficial, Molina said.
“I think it’s a revolution in student access, housing the president of the University outside of the niche of Morrill Hall and into student space,” said Molina, a University senior.
Although Molina said the president wants any attempts to relocate him to be student-driven, moving the president’s quarters is not strictly a student effort. At the February regents’ meetings, outgoing Regent Tom Reagan told the board’s facilities committee to consider improving Yudof’s office space.
Yudof is not alone in considering new digs. The Board of Regents is moving to the University Gateway center when construction of the alumni and visitor center is completed.
Molina said passing a Minnesota Student Association resolution to shift the president to Coffman Union would be a simple process. Echoing Reagan’s sentiments about the inadequate space for the president in Morrill Hall, Molina said she might even write a resolution herself.
But space constraints would be an issue in the student union as well. Coffman Union officials have promised all current tenants space in the renovated union; new space-holders, such as a bookstore and a computer lab, are also part of the intended union makeup.
Although it was not part of the original concept for the union, moving the president into Coffman Union is an option, said Jorg Rivera, president of the Coffman Union Board of Governors.
If students request it, space for the president would be considered during the student union’s design phase, Rivera said.