Todd Coon remembers the excitement in the Pendleton Room as the new drapes were hung four years ago. These curtains were more than just 15-by-20-foot pieces of fabric to Coon and the staff; they were the culmination of time, money and teamwork invested by everyone present to rejuvenate the 92-year-old room at the Michigan Union.
Buying the curtains was Coon’s first major assignment when he started working as a procurement specialist for the University Unions. Before coming to U-M he worked in procurement at Borders, often-working 60 to 80 hour weeks. This high-pressure environment was a stark contrast to the pace and climate of Coon’s current work with U-M.
“There’s an expectation here that you’re going to have a work-life balance, and I think that’s great,” Coon says. “You don’t always find that, especially when you’re in the business world.”
Employment at U-M has given Coon much more time with his family. He has a wife of 17 years and two daughters, and says his family is the best thing in his life. He enjoys coaching his daughters’ little league sports teams and bringing them to U-M football and basketball games.
Coon also has used the increased personal time to get more involved in the U-M community outside of work. He is an assistant fencing coach for the club team on campus.
Coon began fencing during his sophomore year at Eastern Michigan University. Fencing sounded like a fun way to earn credits, so he enrolled in the course and quickly became an adept swordsman. His skills caught the eye of the club team captain, and Coon was recruited to join while still in the course.
Coon’s fencing coach at EMU, Jim Vesper, eventually transferred to U-M. When Coon also began work at the university he sought Vesper out and was invited to help coach the club team. Coon says his involvement with fencing and keeping a connection with his old coach greatly has enriched his engagement in the U-M community.
“I really enjoy it. The students make it a lot of fun, and the coach. Like I said, he’s been around since when I was in college, he’s been around a long time,” Coon says.
Working alongside the man who helped him hone his fencing skills, and teaching the craft to a new generation of athletes, has provided a way for Coon to connect with the legacy of a sport that has been around for hundreds of years.
Coon always has had a strong interest in history and tradition. He earned his undergraduate degree in history at EMU, and says it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of his work in the University Unions.
“When you come into a building like the Union or the (Michigan) League and you see things that have been around for 90 or 100 years it’s kind of neat. It ties back to the whole aspect of what the university is about,” he says.
In his time here, Coon has embraced the sense of tradition at U-M. He says he works hard in his job to maintain the historic look and feel of the Michigan Union and Michigan League, to help preserve the memories that took place there.
“No matter where you go, whether it’s an older building or a newer one, I think you’re going to find a lot of the culture and tradition is tied into whatever’s going on in those buildings,” he says.
The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Todd Coon, procurement specialist, University Unions, on job satisfaction: “There’s an expectation here that you’re going to have a work-life balance, and I think that’s great.”
Vivian R. Shaw Lecture: Robin Givhan, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, U-M Museum of Art