Lotus Coffman (1875–1938) served as the fifth president of the University from 1920 until his death in 1938. The University of Minnesota grew during his tenure to become the third largest university in the United States. He expanded both the physical plant, and oversaw the growth of the student body and faculty.
Though committed to the liberal arts, Coffman was an ardent supporter of social segregation among the students. African American and Jewish students were admitted in growing numbers during the 1930s, and he used housing as a medium to support a racial hierarchy on campus. He was the architect of segregated, publicly financed student housing. As he expanded opportunities for white students, he carefully monitored the increase in minority students. He envisioned segregated housing for African American male students, which the University created after Coffman’s death.
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