Student Center

Exterior of Edson Hall
Interior of Edson Auditorium
Edson Hall and Briggs Library
Exterior of Student Center
A group of people in hard hats with a sign for the Morris Performing Arts Center
Exterior of Student Center and Mall

The present-day Student Center was completed in 1992 and represents a radical expansion and remodeling of the pre-existing Edson Hall. Edson Hall had been completed in 1959 and had served, albeit briefly, as the administration building for the West Central School of Agriculture (WCSA). Besides serving as WCSA's administrative center, Edson also contained the school library and a 500-seat auditorium. The building had been named to honor Allen W. Edson, a former WCSA faculty member and superintendent, who died suddenly in 1958. Edson Hall had replaced the WCSA Administration Building which had been erected on the same site in 1900 for the Morris Industrial School for Indians and then enlarged and rebuilt in 1924 by the WCSA (National Register of Historic Places).

During the UMN Morris years Edson Hall served the campus in a variety of ways. It continued to provide office space for administrators and serve as the library, at least until the new library building was completed in 1968. It also hosted the campus art gallery. In 1967 after the second and third floors of Behmler Hall were remodeled to provide new office space, administrative functions began a slow exodus from Edson to Behmler. And so from 1968-1992, the building was used primarily as a student union and included offices for Student Activities, the student radio station, a student store (Agoraphobia), meeting and recreation rooms, a cafeteria, and the auditorium (Granger). However, it had been long recognized that the building was inadequate for the needs of a modern college, and in the 1980s students launched a campaign to construct a new facility, an effort that included the raising of student activity fees to pay for a new or remodeled facility (Morris Weekly).

In 1990 the Minnesota State Legislature appropriated funds for the Student Center and Hokanson, Lumming Associates were named as architects. The 52,780-square-foot facility opened in 1992. Much of the earlier Edson Hall was preserved, including the auditorium, now bearing the name of Allen W. Edson. A major addition included the glass-enclosed great hall, replete with a dramatic fireplace and expansive interior space and topped--like many of the Clarence Johnston buildings--with a hipped roof. It bears the Dakota-Lakota moniker of Oyate Hall. Turtle Mountain Cafe also speaks to the UMN Morris past. In 2011 Higbies coffee shop, named after Edgar Creighton Higbie, the first superintendent of the WCSA, was added to the Student Center (Ray). In 2018 the Edward J. and Helen Jane Morrison Performing Arts Center was dedicated, which includes a newly renovated Edson Auditorium (Morrison Performing Arts Center Dedication Ceremony).

Edson Hall

Edson Hall had a much smaller footprint than the current Student Center building, and was dedicated on November 25, 1959.

Student Center

The current Student Center addition, which incorporated Edson Hall, was built in 1992.

Contribute to this Building

For assistance in using the UMN Morris Archives, call 320-589-6172 or complete the following form.