History of the Union
The Indiana Memorial Union, known on campus as the IMU, is a vibrant gathering place for students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests of the University.
In 1909, John Whittenberger, class of 1911, saw the need for an organization to bring about a spirit of collegiality on campus. Aided by President William Lowe Bryan and members of the faculty, the original “Indiana Union” was founded in 1909. Union Board was established at the first Indiana Union meeting with John Whittenberger as its president. Meetings, social events and other activities were all part of the newly organized union.
The IMU was voted the best place to have fun on campus! There’s always something happening at the IMU. Grab your friends and head to the IMU for some great fun.
Today's Indiana Memorial Union traces its roots back to underclassman John Whittenberger, class of 1911. It was a time when the student body lacked a spirit of collegiality and rivalries between freshman and sophomores, fraternity members and independents had spawned class scraps "a la bullfights." Whittenberger believed that establishing a student union for the men of the university would help to change the hostile climate.
Aided by President William Lowe Bryan and members of the faculty, the original "men's union" was founded in 1909. Union Board was established at the first Indiana Union meeting with John Whittenberger as its president. Meetings, social functions and other activities of the newly formed men's union were held in the Student Building.
In 1921, the Memorial Fund Drive was established to finance a new stadium (Memorial Stadium) a women's residence hall (Memorial Hall) and a building with a large auditorium – the Indiana Memorial Union. Fund-raising lagged and the union building was tabled from 1924 to 1929. After renewed appeals, construction began in 1931. The union building became a reality in 1932 and was formally dedicated at Commencement, June 13, 1932, to "the sons and daughters of Indiana University who had served in the wars of the Republic," thus becoming the Indiana Memorial Union.
In 1952, after nearly a year of lively debate, women were admitted to Union Board with the merging of the Association of Women Students and Union Board.
The Biddle Continuation Center was a major addition completed in 1960. Named after the Indiana Memorial Union's first Director, Ward Gray Biddle (1891-1946), the center was designed to fulfill the promise of personal and professional growth through conferences, workshops, and seminars, and includes 186 guest rooms and 50,000 sq. ft of meeting space.
The Commemorative Garden was dedicated in 1986. Located in front of the hotel lobby entrance, 800 signature bricks, donated by Union Board students, alumni, and friends, cover the central plaza. The garden provides a colorful and welcoming space at the east entrance of the IMU.
With a staggering 500,000 sq. ft. of space, the IMU is one of the largest student unions in the world. A magnificent landmark, the IMU is the heart of IU, an educational institution, home away from home, and a gathering place.
As a testimony to the vision of John Whittenberger, the Indiana Memorial Union has remained loyal to its mission to serve as a point of identification – a unifying force - in the life of Indiana University, bringing together the diverse elements of a world-class university.
The Memorial Room includes the Golden Book and plaque symbolizing the dedication of the Indiana Memorial Union "In memory of the sons and daughters of Indiana University who have fallen in the wars of the Republic."
The wallpaper in the Federal Room parlor was produced by hand and represents tourist impressions of early 19th century America. The same wallpaper print is displayed in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
The stained glass displayed in the Memorial Room dates back to the 15th Century.