Skip to main content

Office of the President records

Identifier: ua00841

Scope and Content

The collection contains the administrative records of the Office of the President at the University of Minnesota. Materials include correspondence, memos, reports, awards, building files, talks and writings, minutes, and planning documents. The collection is divided into the following series:

Administration: This series is comprised of records relating to the Office of the President’s involvement in the administrative function of the University and includes the following subseries listed in alphabetical order: Academic Affairs; Disciplinary Actions and Legal Cases; Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA); External Relations; Fees; Finance and Operations; Graduate School; Institutional Relations; Management, Planning, and Information Services (MPIS); Personnel; Planning and Analysis; Student Affairs and Student Development; University Press; and General. Of note is the Disciplinary Actions and Legal Cases subseries, which includes records from the Office of General Council involving the University's association with various legal actions as well as records involving disputes or those of a disciplinary nature that did not result in legal action. Many of the files in this subseries are restricted require staff approval in order to view.

Audio Visual: This series consists of various forms of promotional media and recordings of assorted University events that involved the Office of the President.

Athletics and Physical Education: This series includes records relating to Athletics and Physical Education at the University with most of the records deriving from the Athletics department and information concerning the University's relationship with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Please note that several of the files in this series are restricted and require staff approval in order to view.

Boards, Committees, Councils, and Taskforces: This series contains records from University boards, committees, councils, taskforces and any other formal group on campus.

Buildings and Grounds: This series includes information about building structures and land owned by the University. Subseries in this series listed alphabetically are: Minneapolis Campus, St. Paul Campus (Farm Campus), Substations, and General. The majority of these records span the years 1920-1960.

Correspondence: This series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence involving the Office of the President from both inside and outside the University. Most of this series is repeated in alphabetical order according to name but also includes thank you letters, congratulations, and miscellaneous correspondence. Notable correspondence includes communication with Garrison Keillor and Hubert Humphrey.

Departments: This series is comprised of departments, colleges, schools, institutes, centers, and programs of an academic nature as they relate to the Office of the President. Subseries are listed in alphabetical order and include:

  1. Agriculture: subseries Department of Agriculture; Institute of Agriculture; Institute of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics; College of Agriculture; College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences, and International Education
  2. Architecture
  3. Arts, Sciences and Engineering
  4. Band
  5. College of Biological Sciences
  6. Centers and Institutes
  7. Continuing Education and Extension (CEE)
  8. College of Education (which includes Human Development and the merger of the School of Education and Human Ecology)
  9. General College
  10. Health Sciences: subseries Academic Health Center and Medical School
  11. College of Human Ecology
  12. Institute of Technology
  13. International Programs and Foreign Exchange
  14. College of Liberal Arts
  15. Libraries
  16. Museums
  17. College of Natural Resources
  18. Professional Studies: subseries Humphrey Institute, Law School, and School of Management (which includes Business Administration and Carlson School of Management)
  19. ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps)
  20. College of Science, Literature, and the Arts
  21. University College
  22. General

Events: This series contains information about the University's involvement in international events and movements including World War II and Communism. Another subseries is Protests and Disputes, which document university wide dissent and disruptions including the Morrill Hall Takeover, South Africa controversy, and union strikes. The last subseries is General events such as Commencement, Freshman week, the University's 75th Anniversary, and Football Day. The series is arranged alphabetical according to subseries and is in the following order: Communism, Protests and Disputes, World War II, and General.

Extension and Coordinate Campuses: This series includes information about the extension and coordinate campuses of Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Waseca and their relationship with the Office of the President. These four campuses make up the subseries for this group and are listed in alphabetical order.

External Organizations: The records in this series document the University's relationship and involvement in associations and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally. It includes instances in which the University of Minnesota president served in the capacity of an appointed office as well as held a general university membership. Organizations within this series are not listed alphabetical but instead are in order according to the box number.

Faculty and Staff: This series is comprised of information concerning university faculty and staff and their relationship with the University including civil service discussions, tenure, and faculty mentor programs. Also included are statistics and handbooks.

Foundations: This series documents the relationship between various foundations and the University. Some of the notable foundations include: The Rockefeller Foundation, Bush Foundation, Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Mayo Foundation, and National Science Foundation.

Government and Legislation: This series refers to the University's relationship with the state and federal government. It includes requests for funding and budget discussions as well as lobbying and correspondence with various government officials. While most of the records consist of information concerning the State of Minnesota, a small portion includes the federal government.

Honorary Degrees, Awards, Fellowships, and Prizes: This series includes information about opportunities for individuals (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) to earn special recognition through honorary degrees, awards, fellowships, and prizes. The folders in this series are arranged according to box number but often contain the title of the award or the name of the awarded individual on the folder title. Included in this series is information on building names, Nobel Prizes, and Regents Professorships.

Planning and Reorganization: This series depicts the planning and reorganization activities of the Office of the President including Strategies for Focus (circa 1970s-1985), Commitment to Focus (1985-1987), U2000, and general planning and reorganization of the institution. The series is organized according to box number with individual departments highlighted and repeating throughout the series.

Radio and Television: This series consists of information about radio, specifically KUOM, and television on campus. The information in this series spans the years 1936-1993.

Regents: This series illustrates the relationship between the Board of Regents (as a group and individually) with the Office of the President. Included are reports, correspondence, and committee information.

Student and Staff Clubs and Organizations: This series includes information about clubs and organizations at the University lead by both students and staff. Of note, is a scroll presented to Malcolm Moos from the American Indian Student Association shortly after its founding.

Talks, Writings, and Related Biographical: The information in this series documents the University of Minnesota president in a more personal nature and includes inauguration, resignation, speeches, presentations, photographs, and clippings. The files in this series are in order according to box number.

Travels and Visitors: This series depicts the in-state, national, and international travels of the President as well as in-state, national, and international visitors to the University of Minnesota. Of note are the President’s travels to Asia as well as visits of individuals from Asia.

Alphabetical: The files in this series were maintained in the original order in which they were used. Please note that the alphabetical order is repetitive.


  • Creation: 1908-2004


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

The President of the University of Minnesota serves as the chief executive officer of the University and ex officio president of the Board of Regents. With offices on the Twin Cities campus, the president is supported by an executive team that includes senior vice presidents, vice presidents, general counsel, University coordinate campus chancellors, director of athletics, and president of the University of Minnesota Foundation. The University’s Office of the President was created in 1869 when the Board of Regents hired the University’s first president, William Watts Folwell.

William Watts Folwell (University President 1869-1884)was born in Seneca County, New York February 14, 1833. Prior to accepting the Presidency at the University of Minnesota, Folwell taught at Hobart College, served as an officer in the 50th New York Regiment of Volunteers, and taught at Kenyon College. During his tenure, the University launched its collegiate-level curriculum, conferring its first undergraduate degrees in 1873; developed an organizational structure of colleges and other academic programs such as extension education, started in 1882 as the Farmers’ Lecture Course; and began work on the Minnesota Geological and Natural History Survey, created by the state legislative in 1872. Folwell resigned the Presidency in 1884, serving as professor of political science and the first University Librarian until his retirement in 1906. He died September 18, 1929.

Cyrus Northrop (University President 1884-1911)was born September 30, 1834 in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He was a professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Yale when he accepted the Presidency of the University of Minnesota. Northrop's term included dramatic growth and change at the University. When he arrived, University faculty numbered 30 with a student body of 250. When he retired as President in 1911, the University employed 442 faculty members and served 6,038 students. Several campus buildings were constructed and new Schools of Agriculture and Agricultural Experiment Stations were opened across the state during his Presidency. Cyrus Northrop died April 3, 1922.

George Edgar Vincent (University President 1911-1917)was born in Rockford, Illinois on March 21, 1864. He came to the University of Minnesota from the University of Chicago where he served as a faculty member and dean of the College of Arts, Literature and Sciences. During his presidency, the General Extension Division, University Senate, All-University Student Council, and formal University budget were established. He resigned in 1917, accepting the presidency of the Rockefeller Foundation. He died February 1, 1941.

Marion LeRoy Burton (University President 1917-1920)was born August 30, 1874 in Brooklyn, Iowa. He served as president of Smith College prior to accepting the appointment as University President. He established the School of Business Administration and combined the Schools of Chemistry and Engineering. He also advocated for a Comprehensive Building Program for the campus. Burton resigned in 1920 to assume the presidency at the University of Michigan. He died February 18, 1925.

Lotus Delta Coffman (University President 1920-1938)was born January 7, 1875 in Salem, Indiana. He was serving as the University’s Dean of the College of Education (1915-1920) when he accepted the Presidency. The General College, Center for Continuation Study, University College, and University Art Gallery were established during his tenure. Memorial Stadium and Northrop Memorial Auditorium were built during his presidency, the first two University facilities built in part through fund-raising campaigns. Lotus Delta Coffman died September 22, 1938 while serving as University President.

Guy Stanton Ford (University President 1938-1941)was born in Salem, Wisconsin May 9, 1873. Prior to accepting the Presidency, he served for 25 years as professor of history and dean of the University’s Graduate School. Coffman Memorial Union, St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Laboratory, and Minnesota Museum of National History (later named Bell Museum of Natural History) were built during his tenure as President. He retired from the University and became the executive secretary of the American Historical Association and editor of the American Historical Review. He died December 29, 1962.

Walter Castella Coffey (University President 1941-1945)was born February 1, 1876 in Hartsville, Indiana. He served as Dean of the University’s Department of Agriculture for 20 years prior to accepting the University Presidency. He oversaw the war-time army special training programs that added approximately 5,000 military personnel to campus. The faculty tenure code was established in his administration, and Coffey re-organized the President’s Office hiring two vice presidents: one to administer academic affairs and the other to manage business affairs. He died January 31, 1956.

James Lewis Morrill (University President 1945-1960)was born in Marion, Ohio September 24, 1891. Prior to his appointment as University President, he served as the president of the University of Wyoming. During Morrill’s tenure, the University’s Duluth campus and the School of Veterinary Medicine were established and several new buildings were opened (Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Centennial Hall, Ford Hall, Johnston Hall, Mayo Memorial). He was instrumental in plans for expanding the Minneapolis campus to the West Bank area. Morrill resigned in 1960 and became a consultant with the Ford Foundation. He died July 20, 1979.

Owen Meredith Wilson (University President 1960-1967)was born in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico September 21, 1909. When appointed University President, he was serving as president of the University of Oregon. Wilson oversaw the expansion of the Minneapolis campus to the West Bank area. He also re-organized the Institute of Technology and the College of Liberal Arts and created the College of Biological Sciences. Wilson resigned as President in 1966 and accepted the position of director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He died November 7, 1998.

Malcolm Charles Moos (University President 1967-1974)was born April 19, 1916 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was director of the Office of Government and Law at the Ford Foundation when he accepted the Presidency. During his tenure, the University established academic departments in African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano Studies, and Women's Studies, and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs was founded. Moos advocated for new facilities for the health sciences and a University-community partnership referred to as communiversity. When he resigned as President, Moos accepted the position of chief executive officer of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. He died in January 1982.

C. Peter Magrath (University President 1974-1984)was born April 23, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. When he accepted the Presidency, he was serving as president of the State University of New York at Binghamton. Faced with economic retrenchment, Magrath developed policies and procedures for reallocation of University resources. During his tenure, several University health sciences buildings, Williamson Hall, and Civil and Mineral Engineering building were constructed. Magrath resigned in 1984 to assume the presidency of the University of Missouri.

Kenneth H. Keller (University President 1985-1988)was born October 19, 1934 in New York, New York. He was serving as the University’s vice president for academic affairs when he was chosen to be Acting President in 1984. He was named President in 1985. His framework for the University, “Commitment to Focus,” highlighted three strategic priorities: 1) strengthening graduate education and research, 2) positioning the University to be ranked one of the top five public universities, and 3) enhancing the preparation and experience of undergraduates. Keller was instrumental in a fund-raising campaign that successfully concluded with gifts totaling $365 million. He resigned from the Presidency in 1987, accepting a position with Princeton University.

Nils Hasselmo (University President 1988-1997)was born July 2, 1931 in Kola, Sweden. He was serving as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Arizona when he accepted the Presidency. Hasselmo built on “Commitment to Focus” emphasizing themes such as enhanced undergraduate education, increased attention to technology transfer, and continued planning and priority setting within individual colleges and campuses. Debates about the University’s tenure policy resulted in a new tenure code being adopted during his Presidency. Hasselmo resigned in 1997, becoming president of the American Association of Universities.

Mark G. Yudof (University President 1997-2002)was born October 30, 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to accepting the Presidency, he served as executive vice president and provost at the University of Texas at Austin. During his tenure, Walter Library re-opened after major renovations and work began to renovate Coffman Memorial Union. Yudof announced a private fund-raising campaign in 1998, which closed in 2003 raising more than $1.6 billion for scholarships, endowed chairs, research, and other initiatives. He resigned the Presidency to accept the position of chancellor at the University of Texas.

Robert H. Bruininks (University President 2002-2011)was born February 22, 1942 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was serving as executive vice president and provost when he was chosen to serve as Interim President in 2002. Bruininks was named President later that year. He and his leadership team undertook a strategic positioning effort that was designed to raise the University's academic profile, its service to students and the community, and its stewardship of resources. Affordability for students was a primary concern, and as a result, Bruininks made student scholarships the University's top private fund-raising priority. He announced in 2009 that he would return to the faculty in 2011 as a professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Education and Human Development.

Eric W. Kaler (University President 2011- )was born September 23, 1956. Prior to accepting the Presidency, he served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University.

Additional historical information can be found on the Office of the President website:


502 boxes (503.0 cubic feet)


The records document the administrative role and activities of the Office of the President at the University of Minnesota.


The collection is organized into the following series:

  1. Administration
  2. Athletics and Physical Education
  3. Audio Visual
  4. Boards, Committees, Councils, and Taskforces
  5. Buildings and Grounds
  6. Correspondence
  7. Departments
  8. Events
  9. Extension and Coordinate Campuses
  10. External Organizations
  11. Faculty and Staff
  12. Foundations
  13. Government and Legislation
  14. Honorary Degrees, Awards, Fellowships, and Prizes
  15. Planning and Reorganization
  16. Radio and Television
  17. Regents
  18. Student and Staff Clubs and Organizations
  19. Talks, Writings, and Related Biographical
  20. Travels and Visitors
  21. Alphabetical

Source of acquisition

Materials in the collection were transferred to University Archives from the Office of the President.

Related Materials

Board of Regents records

William Watts Folwell papers

Cyrus Northrop papers

Office of the President Records
Archives staff; revised by Karen Klinkenberg
June 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area