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Iowa State Daily

Memorial Union announces finalists for new director


Iowa State’s Memorial Union has named three final candidates to serve as its next director. Finalists for the position include Brad Hill, Chad Garland and J.J. O’Toole-Curran.

The search for a new director comes after the death of Steve Winfrey, former director of the Memorial Union and adviser to student government, who died at Israel Family Hospice House on April 19 at 53 years old. Winfrey held the position of Memorial Union director for six years before his death to pancreatic cancer.

Constructed in 1927 as a tribute to those lost during World War I, the Memorial Union is often regarded as the heart and soul of Iowa State’s campus. Covering over 300,000 square feet, the Memorial Union serves as a space for students to learn, connect with peers and engage in extracurricular activities.

Hosting approximately 800 clubs and student organizations, the Memorial Union offers over 35,000 square feet of reservable event space. In addition to student organizations, the Memorial Union houses 14 campus departments and sponsors nearly 2,000 hours of service learning opportunities and entertainment through its various programs and spaces.

As a vital component of the university itself, the Memorial Union requires a dedicated staff and management committed to the excellence and development of the university and its students. The Memorial Union director is responsible for overseeing and administering all facilities, programs, activities, products, services and tenant relations within the premises. The position is also responsible for leading and managing a professional and contracted staff of 44, including five direct reports, and effectively administering an annual budget of $13 million, as stated within the now-deleted position description.

Additionally, the newly appointed director will serve as a part of both the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs’ Cabinet and the Iowa State University Memorial Union Advisory Board, with the principal purpose of providing advice to the university on all policies and priorities for facilities use and programming, as stated in the position description.

Each finalist will be interviewed on campus over the course of the next two weeks. Candidate schedules will include an open forum with the campus community. During the open forum, each candidate will present their vision for an ideal Memorial Union and respond to questions from the audience, according to student engagement. Forum information for each finalist will be included below.

Brad Hill

Currently serving as co-interim director of the Memorial Union alongside colleague Kristine Heflin, Hill has held the title of associate director for operations at the Memorial Union since 2019. During his time as co-interim director, Hill has worked to develop leadership and collaboration opportunities throughout campus. In addition to his focus on leadership, Hill has contributed to the development and administration of the Memorial Union’s annual budget and evolving the Memorial Union’s facilities. 

Prior to Hill’s time at Iowa State, he attended Mississippi State University for both his bachelor’s degree in political science and government as well as his master’s in counseling education/higher education. He went on to work for his alma mater, serving as both coordinator for union operations and assistant director for student activities.

One of the biggest chances I’ve taken was moving 10+ hours away from everything I’ve known to work at a university that I didn’t know much about,” Hill stated via LinkedIn. “While it was scary and hard at times, self growth, education and love have all made it worth it.”

Candidate experience: Co-interim director of the Memorial Union (Iowa State), coordinator for union operations (Mississippi State), assistant director for student activities (Mississippi State)

Scheduled forum: 11 a.m. to noon, Jan. 25, Memorial Union Room 3580

Chad Garland

Senior director of student life and event services at the University of Colorado’s University Center, Chad Garland supervises more than 80 staff members in areas ranging from student life to campus events. Garland’s experience includes strategizing departmental plans and handling contracts for events and campus space rentals. 

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s in zoology and religion, Garland went on to receive a master’s degree in college student affairs leadership at Grand Valley State University. Throughout Garland’s career, he has gained experience at multiple higher education institutions such as Central Michigan, Miami and Colorado.

Candidate experience: senior director of student life and event services (Colorado), associate director of Armstrong Student Center (Miami), assistant director of events and conference services (Central Michigan)                                                                                                          

Scheduled forum: 11 a.m. to noon, Jan. 26, Cardinal Room

J.J. O’Toole-Curran

Currently serving as interim executive director of the Memorial Union at the University of Kansas, O’Toole-Curran has experience with overseeing three student union facilities and advising six different student organizations. O’Toole Curran specializes in promotion efforts for the University of Kansas Memorial Union and possesses extensive experience in higher education, event/risk management and marketing.

Amidst her seventeenth year working with the University of Kansas Memorial Union, O’Toole Curran has gained considerable experience in the field atop her work in directing student life at both the University of Missouri – Kansas City and Washburn University. O’Toole Curran has also served as a program advisor at Texas A&M University.

Candidate experience: interim executive director of the Memorial Union (Kansas), senior associate director (Kansas), assistant director of student life (Missouri – Kansas City), director of student activities and Greek life (Washburn) Program advisor (Texas A&M)                                                                                                          

Scheduled forum: 11 a.m. to noon, Jan. 30, Campanile Room

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