first job in college, working for food services, Henry Morris
was hooked on people.
Now the director of the student union at Minnesota State University-Mankato
has spent the last 25 years working with students.Morris, a candidate for executive director of the Memorial Union, spoke to a forum of 25 people Wednesday, outlining three basic steps to making the Memorial Union the "living room" of the campus.
asked himself the question, "Why am I interested in Iowa State?"
wants a new challenge.He
prefers to manage by moving around the union and talking to its inhabitants, rather than just relying on surveys and polls.He
realizes it is important to attract students who would not normally use the union to come in and see the opportunities and facilities provided.Morris
believes there are three steps to a great, modern union.The first step, he
said, is the brick and mortar of the building, the foundation.The next step is the programming and services.Morris
feels this is the life-blood of any union.Finally, Morris
felt staff and personnel were key.
"You can have a shoddy looking union with great services and staff and still have a good amount of people using it," Morris
said."But you cannot have a gorgeous facility and bad programming and expect to attract anyone."Morris
has had experience in upgrading unions and felt there are things which belong in a union and some things should be put elsewhere.At Mankato State, part of the plan to upgrade the union was to incorporate the student health center.Morris
, as director of the union and a member of its planning committee, strongly objected to placing it in the union.
Instead, an inter-cultural center and international student center were added at Mankato.Morris
saw groups which would not usually plan events together, make great events together.He
wished to eliminate barriers between groups, both physically and in programming.In addition to his duties at the university, Morris is also the head of building and grounds for the YMCA.Morris
addressed the concern of some of the forum about the likelihood of the university continuing to support the union now when the Memorial Union
is coming under the jurisdiction of the department of student affairs.He
said when the mission of an institute is education, then he
has hope, because he
staff can show people what is done in the union, and how it is done.
"The mission of the institution is education, not academics," Morris
felt the best way to ensure the Memorial Union
continues to increase in usage is to partner with other large groups on the campus, like the department of residence and the athletics department.
"Anywhere students experience learning outside a classroom is a natural partner [for the union]," Morris
To get to the next level of performance for the union, Morris
needed to spend more time outside his
office than in it and work to provide a union that is cheery, vibrant and open.