The Memorial Union was dedicated on June 1, 1929 as a living memorial to "the service and inspiration of the living and the memory of our immortal dead."


The Oregon State University Memorial Union was the first student union in the state and was built through contributions made by students and alumni. Ground breaking ceremonies took place on March 3, 1926 with the official dedication by Dr. J.K. Weatherford. The final design was from Lee Thomas, Portland Architect (1907 OSU alumni). The cornerstone was laid on June 1, 1928 and the building was open to students and public for the first time. Official dedication ceremonies took place a year later on alumni day. The building remained virtually unchanged until fall term of 1960 when the two wings were added at each end of the building for the bookstore and dining commons.

The MU Through Time

  • 1921
    President Kerr approves a student proposal to create a student union on campus, the second of its kind in the nation.

  • 1923
    Alumni and students recommend that the student union be built as a memorial, in tribute to the students, staff and faculty that served during the Spanish-American War and World War I .

  • 1924
    Major E.C. Allworth is hired to spearhead the fundraising campaign, and is later hired to be the first MU director.

    Portland architect and OSU alum Lee Thomas (class of 1907) is hired to design the Memorial Union.
    The first Women's Day is held, which later became Mom's Weekend.
  • 1928
    The Memorial Union opens, and a grand opening and dedication is held.

  • 1936
    The MU Quad is planned as part of a WPA project. The existing tennis courts were removed so that sidewalks and landscaping could be added.

  • 1943
    The first major artwork gift is presented by Mrs. William H. Price, who gives 23 paintings done by her husband.
    As the nation finds itself in the middle of World War II, the MU Dining Room and West Ballroom are converted to housing and dining facilities for military service men housed on the OAC campus.
  • 1948
    Mrs. Leone Johnson, the first MU Recreation Director, is hired and forms the MU Program Council (MUPC).
  • 1950
    The MU begins a tradition of hosting and changing art exhibits in the MU Concourse Gallery.
    MUPC hosts the first annual Christmas Party for Children.

  • 1960
    The East and West wings, and the carillon bells are added to the MU building.

  • 1963
    George Stevens is hired to serve as director of both the MU and Student Activities, succeeding Major Allworth.

    Student Activities is formed.

  • 1966
    The Craft Center opens in its first location, adjacent to the MU Ballroom.

  • 1967
    Irwin Harris creates the Director of Student Media and Public Events, which is now Orange Media Network.

    Don Sanderson is hired to expand Student Activities.
  • 1970
    Peavy Lodge is developed as a campus resource by the MU.
  • 1971
    The MU assumes responsibility for McAlexander Fieldhouse and a committee is formed to assess campus recreation needs, which marks the beginnings of Recreational Sports
    The MU opens the first Outdoor Center in Hut F, with a goal of "helping to educate all on the critical necessity of conservation and preservation of our natural resources."
  • 1972
    The Department of Physical Recreation is established under the MU. Sport Clubs move into this new unit.
  • 1973
    Snell Hall is purchased from the residence halls and is intended to become the second union building, known as MU East.

  • 1974
    The Black Cultural Center is established as part of the MU and Student Activities.
  • 1975
    The Native American Longhouse is established as part of the MU and Student Activities.
  • 1976
    The Chicano Cultural Center is established as part of the MU and Student Activities.
    Dixon Recreation Center opens.
  • 1977
    MU East (Snell Hall) opens as a new home for Student Media, Student Activities, Craft Center, Dinner Theatre, and a restaurant.

  • 1990
    Assistant Vice President and director of the Memorial Union George Stevens retires.

  • 1991
    The Asian & Pacific Cultural Center is established as part of the MU and Student Activities.
  • 1994
    The MU West Wing, or the MU Commons, opens and becomes the first food court on campus.
    Recreational Sports is established as a campus department separate from the MU and under the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
  • 1995
    The MU East Wing opens, which includes the OSU Bookstore.
  • 2001
    Student Involvement (formerly Student Activities) is established as a campus department separate from the MU.
  • 2002
    The Joyce Goudy Powell Leadership Center opens in the MU.
  • 2003
    The Memorial Union celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  • 2004
    The fifth cultural center, the Pride Center, is developed to serve the LGBTQ community.
  • 2005
    The MU roof and iconic dome are replaced.
  • 2006
    Student Involvement and Student Media rejoin the MU.
  • 2009
    The Trysting Tree Lounge renovation project receives a generous gift, the largest in MU history.
  • 2010
    Students vote to begin construction a new building and extension of the Memorial Union, the Student Experience Center.
  • 2011
    Conceptual designs, building and construction for the new SEC building begins.
  • 2012
    Oregon Legislature approves the MU renovation and the SEC construction.
  • 2013
    Planning is completed, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the SEC is held in May.
    The OSU Beaver Store relocates to 26th Street, across from Reser Stadium.
  • 2015
    The SEC and SEC plaza are completed in January 2015.
  • Beyond
    To be continued...