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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Centennial Student Union Collecting Memories

Submissions will be used in 50th Anniversary Celebrations.

Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 6-11-2017

MANKATO — Leaders of Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Centennial Student Union are looking for memories.

Alumni are invited to share photos related to the headquarters of student activities, as well as video recollections. The collected nostalgia will help the union celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall.

Alumni can submit photos along with a description of the significance of the photo online or via mail.

The submission deadline is June 30. In addition to photos taken in the 50-year-old building, Centennial Student Union Communications Coordinator Lenny Koupal said photos connected to the union in any way are welcomed.

The photos shared thus far include Jim and Kris Connors cutting their wedding cake in 1968. It was the first wedding reception ever held in the union.

Another photo submitted by Sue Witman Erickson is simply of a man and his dog. The man was former Minnesota State Mankato student Jim “Tiny Hitzemann,” who worked at the union for seven years. In 1977 four puppies were found abandoned in a box outside the union. Hitzemann kept one and found homes for the others. He died two years later and Witman adopted the dog.

Some of the photos will become part of an exhibit in the union’s art gallery this fall. They all will be included in an online photo gallery and will be archived at the university library, Koupal said.

Photo contributors who share their address will be mailed a thank you gift: a 9-by-11-inch print of a painting by local artist Marian Anderson depicting the university’s history.

CSU staff also are repurposing a vintage phone booth into a station where visitors can share a visual and/or audio memory. The booth is in the process of being retrofitted so people can record 60-second video and audio clips and share them with the university and to their own Facebook pages.

The union acquired the authentic red retired English booth several years ago, according to Koupal. It had been serving as a station where students could make Skype calls but lately has seen little use, he said.

The booth has been moved to a more prominent location near the Ostrander Auditorium and is expected to be ready to record memories next week. It will remain in place at least through the fall.
Some of the recordings might be included in the art exhibit, in a video documentary about the union, shared on social media and perhaps in other yet-to-be-determined ways, Koupal said.

The union also might share the memories with planners of the university’s sesquicentennial celebrations, which will culminate in the fall of 2018.

The Centennial Student Union got its name because it opened during the university’s centennial celebration. While the union wasn’t completed until 1968, it claims a 1967 opening date because the ballroom was completed in time to host the 1967 homecoming banquet.

The union’s 50th anniversary celebration will culminate during homecoming on Oct. 7.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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