Keeping the Memorial Union
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 01:03
Oregon State University is home to many fascinating and unique buildings, and one that stands out in particular is the Memorial Union for its history and architecture. Jim Dollar spends time maintaining the building.
An employee of the Memorial Union building services and the custodial staff, Dollar is a part of the team responsible for the maintenance of several buildings on campus like the MU, Snell Hall, Java II, E-cafe, the cultural centers and the Linus Pauling Science Center.
It’s the custodial staff’s job to keep the buildings looking beautiful and pristine inside and out.
The tasks include everything from cleaning to patrolling and preserving designated areas — depending on the position — because each employee is given a different area to work on. Subsequently, jobs are available for students with a maximum of 20 hours per week.
Dollar is an active MU employee with a face — and mustache — many students have seen and recognize. Dollar has worked for OSU for seven years.
His job is specific to the Memorial Union and reaches from the main marble staircase to the bookstore and the entire second floor.
“It sounds like quite a bit,” Dollar said. “But I know the MU like clockwork.”
Dollar knows exactly when the MU will be busy and when it is nearly empty.
Dollar shared unknown myths about the Memorial Union. For example, supposedly there is a ghost of a woman who runs around the concourse late at night. Dollar can neither confirm nor deny the idea.
There are several other fun facts about MU people might not know:
Since the early 1920s, two enormous fans have been used, and are currently in use, to maintain airflow.
The Pangea Cafe, which serves healthy alternatives and international dishes, used to be a balcony.
The carpet in the main room of the MU is the largest carpet in the Pacific Northwest.
The Memorial Union has played host for numerous weddings, and the ballroom, located on the bottom floor, used to have a kitchen.
The MU has been around since 1927 and has transformed over the years, changing with the times, making it a true piece of OSU history.
When asked what Dollar’s favorite memories and experiences have been while working for OSU, he said, without missing a beat, the daily interactions with students.
“I watch a bunch of kids grow up, and in witnessing that process, I am as close to them as if I were a second father to the students,” Dollar said.
Since working for OSU, Dollar has acquired an abundance of patience, as well as a kind-hearted demeanor and easy-to-approach appearance.
He had some interesting stories, and when asked about them, Dollar laughed and said, “We’re just people, and mistakes happen.”
Those who hear the clinking of keys that open every door in the building and see a friendly, mustache-clad face can bet it is Jim Dollar.
Kate Virden, news reporter