Memorial Union opens up new floors for various organizations


Anthony Smith

Student Government President Jacob Ludwig joined by Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Toyia Younger, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Sharron Evans and President Wendy Wintersteen among others at the Memorial Union’s ribbon cutting.

The Memorial Union renovation, which took a year and three months to complete, was finally open to the public Sept. 23. The cost of the renovation was about $10 million.

  • The offices and organizations that moved include:
    International Students and Scholars Office(ISSO)- 4th floor
    The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success- 4th floor
    New Student Programs- 5th floor
    Military-Affiliated Student Center- 5th floor
    Student Legal Services, ISU Lectures, and NCORE-ISCORE- 6th floor

“In 2015, a feasibility study to determine how to better serve students in a 92-year-old building was completed,” said Steve Winfrey, director of the Memorial Union. “The feasibility study focused on a renovation that would repurpose the hotel spaces on floors four through six, increase capacity for seating in the Dining Areas, increase the number of meeting spaces for student organizations to collaborate in and determine how to best address millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.”

In the spring of 2017, a $65 million referendum was put on the Student Government ballot, which ultimately failed. Following the failed $65 million referendum, however, the Senate did vote to approve an $11 million referendum which would provide for the renovation of floors four through six from the old hotel space to spaces that serve students, which was completed in June of 2022.

Winfrey shared that the process of developing the vision of the floors four through six renovations was done in consultation with Student Government leaders at the time, as well as focus groups of stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

“We have many students who use our space as a daily hangout, the move may have reduced their use of the space,” said Susan Harper, director of the LGBTQIA+ Student Success Center.

Harper said that based on the previous years’ data, it does appear that more students are coming into The Center now.

Harper shared there are returning ISU students who said until The Center moved to the 4th floor, they didn’t even know the center existed and had never been there before. Now that most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, The Center started doing more programming.

The new floors came with a learning curve, with some students getting lost on their way to a relocated office.

“I got lost and couldn’t even find the ISSO office earlier,” said Kaushik Manojkumar, a sophomore in computer science.

He said the old office used to be one tiny room, and he would not call it an office.

Manojkumar shared it was very difficult to get all his doubts cleared regarding his VISA and work permits. However, now that the ISSO has moved to the 4th floor, everything is more streamlined and easier to access.

The renovations do not stop here, as there are still more plans for the Memorial Union in the coming time.

“The second-floor lounge is in need of removing deferred maintenance, providing overflow space for dining and a location for students to be able to utilize for relaxing, studying and group meetings,” Winfrey said.

Winfrey shared that the renovation of the 4-6 floors would not have been possible without the support of the ISU Student Body, the Division of Student Affairs, and Facilities Planning and Management.