Lotus Coffman

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Lotus Coffman
Portrait of Lotus Coffman.jpg
Portrait of Lotus Coffman
President of
the University of Minnesota
In office
Personal details
Born (1875-01-07)January 7, 1875
Salem, Indiana
Died September 23, 1938(1938-09-23) (aged 63)
Brooklyn, Iowa
Spouse(s) Mary Emma Farrell
Alma mater University of Michigan

Lotus Delta Coffman was the fifth president of the University of Minnesota, serving from 1920 until his death in office on September 22, 1938.[1] Coffman Memorial Union, the main student center, is named in his memory.

Career overview[edit]

Lotus Delta Coffman, son of Mansford Coffman and Laura Davis, was born 7 January 1875 in Salem, Indiana. He married in Salem on 28 December 1899 to Mary Emma Farrell born 12 September 1877 Paoli, Indiana, daughter of William H.H.P. Farrell & his first wife Mary A. Wible. Coffman was a graduate of Salem High School in 1892 and a graduate of Indiana Normal School at Terre Haute, in 1896, where he played quarterback on the football team. He earned an AB degree from Indiana University, 1906; an AM degree there, 1910; a Ph.D. at Columbia, NY, 1911. He later received a LLD from Indiana University and from Carleton College in 1922; a LLD from Columbia University, 1929 & a LLD from the University of Michigan, 1931; a LHD from University of Denver, 1930 and a DS degree in education from George Washington University, 1930.

Coffman was principal of Salem, Indiana schools from 1900 to 1903; Superintendent of Salem schools 1903–1906; superintendent of Connersville School 1906–1908; director of training at Charleston, Illinois Normal School 1908–1912; dean of education at the University of Illinois 1912–1915; Dean of the College of Education at the University of Minnesota 1915–1920; and President of the University of Minnesota 1920–1938.

He was a visiting professor for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to New Zealand and Australia 1931; visiting lecturer at the University of the Philippines 1932; member of the National Board of Education to do research in Russia and visit Poland & Germany; was a consultant to the US Department of Interior on a Land Grant College Survey 1928–1930; and advisor to the Surgeon General on education of disabled soldiers during WWI.

He started at the University of Minnesota with a $12,000 annual salary. The university then had 8,200 students on campus. There was $6.5 million spent on maintenance of the campus annually. The School of Education enrolled 600 and had 50 faculty members. The Music School building was under construction in 1920. After 10 years as president, the university's property values had increased more than 100%; the budget increased 68%; enrollment increased 60% in undergraduate classes and over 100% in graduate studies; staff increased from 479 to 825 with 25% having the rank of professor—becoming the third largest university in the US. During Coffman's time the Memorial Stadium was built, Northrop Auditorium and the Walter Library were added; and the Mayo brothers (Wm J. & Charles H.) gave the university $2 million for endowment of the Mayo Foundation for Graduate Medical Study and Research.

After a year's leave of absence due to a heart attack at his summer home in Battle Lake, Minnesota in July 1937, he resumed his job in July 1938. Coffman died on September 23, 1938.[2]

Opening in 1940, Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus is named in honor of President Coffman.


  1. ^ American Council on Education 1939
  2. ^ "Lotus D. Coffman died Thursday, Sept. 23, 1938, age 63". Minneapolis Morning Tribune. p. 1. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Marion LeRoy Burton
President of the University of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Guy Stanton Ford