July 17, 2017

Portraits recognize Union's five past directors

portraits Union directors Portraits of all five past Purdue Memorial Union directors will be on the walls of the Director's Room next to the Sagamore Restaurant in the Union. From left: Lloyd M. Vallely, Dale R. McHenry, Jack E. Walters, John C. Smalley, Robert L. Mindrum. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons) Download image

The newly renamed Director's Room in Purdue Memorial Union now honors 93 years of service with portraits of the five directors who have guided the Union. Two new portraits -- of the first and most recent directors -- have joined three other earlier portraits.

The commissioning of a portrait of Robert L. Mindrum, who retired Dec. 31 after 21-plus years as director, prompted an effort to complete the set with a photo or portrait of the initial director, Jack Walters. A suitable photo was found. Here is a chronology of the PMU directors:

* Jack E. Walters, 1924-29 (portrait photo placed in 2017)
* Lloyd M. Vallely, 1929-60 (portrait 1970)
* John C. Smalley, 1960-75 (portrait 1984)
* Dale R. McHenry, 1975-95 (portrait 2011)
* Robert L. Mindrum, 1995-2016 (portrait 2017)

The Union opened in 1924 as the result of a campaign initiated by students for a place to gather. As donations, starting in 1912, were collected, the nation became involved in World War I, and people at Purdue chose to use the union project to honor 4,013 Purdue graduates and students who served in World War I. Of that number, 67 died.

In every directorship, changes have occurred. Mindrum, who came to Purdue from the University of Illinois, improved financial status and processes, including instituting marketing and capital plans at the Union for the first time. He credits his team with an entrepreneurial outlook that has made the most of the available space and added lease operations including Amazon, UPS and the Purdue Shop.

A director search for Mindrum's successor has reached the candidate presentation stage.

The naming of the Director's Room, which is Room 230 (formerly the Lafayette Room) next to the Sagamore Restaurant, led to the renaming of a second room to avoid confusion. Room 265 (formerly the Director’s Dining Room) around the corner now is called the Lafayette Dining Room. It is available for reservations at the PMU Events Office at 765-494-8908. 

Source: Terry Clayton, assistant director, facilities at Purdue Memorial Union: claytont@purdue.edu

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