The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Michael Henthorne Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

August 29, 2014


“The Memorial Union: Past, Present and Future”  August 29, 2014  Location: Memorial Union, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Henthorne discusses his upbringing in Kansas, his education at Kansas State Teachers College, and the roots of his interest in working in student unions. From there he recounts his first professional work at Boise State University and his decision to move to Oregon State in 1987.

The bulk of the session is devoted to Henthorne's years as an administrator at OSU's Memorial Union (MU). In this, Henthorne notes the relatively lackluster status of the Memorial Union building and programs at the time of his arrival, and the steps that were taken to improve, in particular, the building's physical infrastructure. Henthorne also describes the many ways in which MU programming interacts with the student body on a daily basis and reflects on the ways in which the MU continues to serve as a working memorial to those members of the Oregon State community who have been lost at war.

An additional major point of discussion is the back story behind the conceptualization, funding and construction of the Student Experience Center (SEC), located just east of the Memorial Union. The interview concludes with Henthorne's thoughts on the future impact of the SEC, the potential for expansion of MU programming, and the magnitude of change that he has seen over nearly three decades at OSU.