CSU celebrates 50 years of serendipitous memories

The celebration will include an art gallery and video on history of CSU

This Saturday, Minnesota State University, Mankato will celebrate 50 years of having the Centennial Student Union on campus.

The celebration will be held on homecoming day, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At 3:30, a private program will be held in the Hearth Lounge, which will open up to the public at 4:15. During this program, CSU Director, Mark Constantine, will give a presentation. President Davenport and David Jones, the vice president of Student Affairs, will also be in attendance.

Lenny Koupal, communications director for the CSU, said, “We will also be premiering a short, 8 to 10-minute video that gives a little bit of an overview of the history of the CSU.”

Next to the Hearth Lounge, an art gallery is already on display featuring the history of the CSU. This exhibit will be open until Oct. 13.

On the main floor of the CSU, an old telephone box is situated in which people are encouraged to submit “serendipitous memories,” which are short videos of you sharing a memory of the CSU or your time at the university.

“Over the summer and since last spring, we’ve been inviting alumni to send…serendipitous memories,” Koupal said. “It was memories that were shaped in, through, and around the CSU.”

The art gallery will be featuring a lot of these moments.

“We’ll have a number of those exhibits and some wonderful stories about people who created life-long friendships [and] people [who] were key figures,” said Koupal.

The CSU wasn’t one of the main building structures apart of the university. Before 1967, there was no central building for students to hang out in.

“There were students way back in 1957 who were envisioning this [the CSU],” Koupal said.

Starting in 1962, students started raising five dollars from each student every term, which was divided into quarters back then. Most of these students would graduate before ever even seeing the end result of their efforts, said Koupal.

“What started out as a small grove of trees on the upper campus eventually became the student union,” Koupal said.

Eventually, they were able to raise enough funds for the building.

“The original building cost about $1.5 million. It seems like a bargain by today’s standards,” Koupal said.

Koupal also explained the role that the CSU Ballroom has played in the history of this university.

“In the ‘60s, dances were huge,” Koupal said. “They didn’t have any place to have a dance [before]. Suddenly, they had this huge ballroom where they could have weekly dances. In the ‘70s, it was all about concerts. We had Bruce Springsteen play here, Neil Diamond play here, John Denver play here.”

There is a pillar in the art gallery with about 200 names of famous people who have been to the CSU.

The CSU has been renovated and changed throughout the years. A major renovation that occurred in 2005; what used to be an outdoor patio became what we know today to be the Hearth Lounge.

“The MavAve used to have a wooden wall around it called the stockade,” said Koupal. “Everything that happened in 2005 created a whole new entrance to the building, gave it a whole new look and feel.”

The CSU opened on Oct. 27, 1967, on homecoming day. It was the beginning of the centennial year of the university, so they named the building the Centennial Student Union.

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