Best College Values is pleased to announce its 2015 ranking of the most amazing student unions across the United States. Many colleges and universities pride themselves on providing students with an outstanding resource for meeting, sharing ideas, and simply enjoying the amenities they have to offer through their central hub – the student union, or campus center. Architecture and exterior appeal are the biggest factor in what makes a building amazing to the naked eye, but facilities, interior appeal and tradition are what makes it amazing to its students. Best College Values has taken these items into consideration when creating this list of the 30 Most Amazing Student Unions in America.
30. Reng Student Union, Arkansas State University
Known as the center of action at Arkansas State University, the Reng Student Union provides the student body as well as members of the faculty, staff, alumni, and guests a place to get a true feel for the school. The Reng Student Union sets the tone and tracks the pulse of Arkansas State’s vibrant learning and social environment. Here you will find offices for departments including admissions, career management, counseling, and financial aid, as well as dining and entertainment options. Reng Union is always the place to go to be a part of Red Wolf action.
29. Marist Student Center, Marist College
The Student Center at Marist was built in 1965, a three-story piece of architecture encompassing 66,000 square feet. In the summer of 1994 a renovation added another 63,000 square feet. Attached to the Student Center by a triple-story columned rotunda covered with a dome is the Mid Rise residence hall. Four acres of green space right next to the Student Center provides views of the Hudson River. The Nelly Goletti Theatre, as well as classrooms, music practice rooms, dining areas, lounges, and Student Government offices are located here.
28. Oglesby Union, Florida State University
At Florida State University in Tallahassee, the Oglesby Union works as a center for all activities, including organizations and events which help to weave FSU into the community surrounding it. As a campus center should, Oglesby Union embraces all cultures and ideas within its walls and seeks to expose its students and faculty to endless opportunities to express themselves and experience the cultural impact of others.
27. Willard Straight Hall, Cornell University
Looking at Cornell University’s Willard Straight Hall, one would have to be born yesterday to believe it was built yesterday. Indeed, it was not. Constructed in 1925, “The Straight” is a gothic structure known for being one of the first student unions ever created for such a purpose within the United States. With more than 103,000 square feet of space spread over six floors, “The Straight” has lofted meeting rooms, a computer lab and international lounge. In addition, an on-campus post office and ticket sales kiosk make it a one-stop destination for everything.
26. Cesar Chavez Student Center, San Francisco State University
At the heart of the SFSU campus sits the Cesar Chavez Student Center, with an art gallery featuring dramatic portraits of its namesake. Students enter through the Malcolm X Plaza, which plays host to live music events as well as multicultural events and political speeches.
25. Student Center, Central Connecticut State University
The Student Center at Central Connecticut State University is the beating heart of campus life for students, faculty, as well as all the systems and organizations that support the institution on a daily basis. Within the Center are the offices for the Student Government, the Central Activities Network, the Women’s Center, and the Student Activities/Leadership Development Office. Students seeking a bite to eat can check out the food court, and the recently expanded Bookstore provides textbooks and other study materials. Social opportunities are also available, from the numerous lounges used for studying or blowing off steam to Breakers Game Room, where students can shoot pool, play video games, and watch sports on television.
24. University Center, Lehigh University
Between University Center and Lamberton Hall, students as well as faculty have the ability to come together for academic and social purposes. These two facilities provide various activities, functions, and services geared towards getting the most out of the educational experience at Lehigh University. Lamberton Hall, completed in February of 2006, has wireless internet capability and a Great Room for media purposes. Also known as Packer Hall, the University Center has many dining options and houses most academic and student offices.
23. Memorial Union, University of Oklahoma
The Memorial Union, named and dedicated for Sooners who fought and died in WWI, is more than just a center for students and other members of the university family. The Union caters to any and all events one can imagine, from business events and conferences to formal galas in its ballroom. Student organizations including the Student Government and Alumni Offices are located here, along with a wide array of options in the food court.
22. Ackerman Union, University of California, Los Angeles
The Ackerman Union at UCLA provides Bruins’ students with everything they need in one place. From delicious food options, a computer store, study lounges, and offices for not only the student government association but also the school paper and textbook annex, a Bruin can get a lot done in very little time. During finals, Ackerman offers a 24-hour study hall for all of you night owls.
21. Ohio Union, Ohio State University
The original Ohio Union was completed as the first co-ed student union the school had since being founded in 1870. Completed with much fanfare as well as the help of Ohio State students in 1951, the Ohio Union held a browsing library, a cafeteria, pool tables and a 16-lane bowling alley, as well as the offices for 19 student organizations. However, time had its way with the original Ohio Union, and after studies revealed building a new Union was more cost effective, it was brought down in 2006.Once again, Ohio State students played a role in the new Union’s
development, from the architecture, to the colors, to the study needs of the modern-day student. It opened in 2010.
20. Tate Student Center, University of Georgia
The Tate Student Center is affectionately known as the “living room” at The University of Georgia. Students and faculty alike describe how safe and inviting it feels, with a sense of southern hospitality only UGA can offer. There are endless opportunities here at “The Tate” for students with all sorts of backgrounds and majors. The Tate Center has educational as well as entertaining events as part of its repertoire. In addition, the Tate houses the Office of the Dean of Students, which encompasses a myriad of programs and services for students enrolled at
The University of Georgia.
19. Price Center, University of California, San Diego
In 1989, Sol Price, owner of wholesale food chains including Costco and Price Club, donated $2 million for a student center which was built to replace the older former one. The Price Center is set in the heart of the University of California’s San Diego campus, a stone’s throw from the Geisel Library. Accommodating over 30,000 visitors a day, this student center expanded in 2003 to provide more services, from a 24-hour Burger King and other fast-food restaurants, as well as a bookstore, movie theatre, and offices for many student organizations.
18. Wyoming Union, University of Wyoming
Centrally located on the main campus of the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Union consists of over 19,000 square feet of productive business and commerce space. Additions to the Union in 1957 and 1973 expanded the structure, but the 2002 addition allowed for a cohesive meeting spot able to accommodate students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding
community at The University of Wyoming. Besides offices for student government and other organizations, the Union has the University Store, Copy Center, First Interstate Bank, and a food court under its roof.
17. Nebraska Unions, University of Nebraska
In the spring of 1935, under the auspices of student government leader Jack Fischer, the efforts to build a student union in Lincoln began in earnest. However, it would take until 1938 before the students at the University of Nebraska saw any tangible results. Since 1959, the Nebraska Union has been the focus of several renovations. In 1999, 55,000 additional square feet were added to compensate for the university’s growing number of students and services and facilities
needed to accommodate them. The latest renovation in 1999 included a 24-hour computer lab, more lounges, meeting rooms, and a modern auditorium.
16. Wakehurst Student Center, Salve Regina University
The Wakehurst Center is not just for students and student activities. Although Wakehurst’s first floor holds a Global Cafe, a video game room, and a lounge with a fireplace, offices for faculty and additional classrooms keep space within its walls also. The bottom level hosts a bicycle loan program, the student post office, air hockey and billiards tables, foosball, ping-pong, and media features, including flat-screen TV’s for students looking to relax or hang out with friends. The second and third floors house student and faculty offices.
15. Shapiro Campus Center, Brandeis University
The Department of Student Activities at Brandeis University is located in the beautiful Shapiro Campus Center. The Shapiro Center fosters a place for students to embrace and celebrate the social and community aspects created at Brandeis. Operated by students in collaboration with assistance from faculty members who share space there, the Shapiro Campus Center embodies Brandeis University’s commitment to the community.
14. Student Union, Florida Atlantic University
Located on the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University, the Student Union is a center for everything related to student and campus activities. All elements of a quality university are present at the Student Union, from exposure to many different cultures and nationalities to access to social and academic resources capable of enriching a mind for the future and the length of a lifetime. FAU students are responsible for the procedures and actions necessary to keep an operation of this magnitude operable on a daily basis. The success of FAU students can be observed based on their commitment to principles like working with the community, dedication to learning, and respect for themselves and others.
13. Memorial Union, Iowa State University
Known as “The MU”, Iowa State University’s Memorial Union was built in 1928 and has Greek and Roman architectural influences, including Corinthian columns and Palladian windows. It was initially created as a memorial to former students from Iowa State who had lost their lives in WWI. Within Memorial Union are a browsing library as well as a chapel. Like most student unions built during this era, it has undergone renovations and additions; eleven, to be exact. These additions surround the original structure, and the most recent one was completed in the spring of 2008. Memorial Union has everything a student needs, such as numerous food and study locations, as well as services like a post office and space for campus organizations.
12. Alumni Memorial Union, Marquette University
The AMU was finished in 1990 and consists of five floors on which the everyday activities of an esteemed university take place. These five floors allow Marquette the capability of hosting up to 4,000 guests comfortably. While such is the capacity, the AMU is used on a more regular basis for student and faculty needs ranging from various food shops, a bank branch with two ATM machines, coffee shops, pool halls, and more upscale dining destinations. Offices for student and alumni organizations are also located here.
11. Bronco Student Center, Cal Poly State University, Pomona
As the colorful banners on its exterior suggest, Cal Poly Pomona’s Bronco Student Center, or BSC, offers students a place to eat, meet, and study in a social or more quiet atmosphere. The food court, known as Center Court, is located on the building’s main floor as you walk in, and boasts food choices including Subway, Poly Fresh, and Round Table; so whether you prefer a sub, a roll of sushi, or a slice of hot pizza, Center Court has you covered. The BSC also houses student organizations as well as opportunities to meet with others for studying and other purposes via conference rooms built to accommodate groups of all sizes.
10. Anderson Student Center, University of Saint Thomas, Minnesota
The University of Saint Thomas’ Anderson Student Center is the focal point for all student and faculty activities campus-wide. Check out Tommie Central on the main floor of the Anderson Student Center to rent a locker, reserve a bowling lane, or head to ‘Scooters’ to grab a burger, sandwich, or even an open-hearth pizza! It also features a dance/performance space that has become a popular gathering space for students. Campus and Building information, including directions around the campus are available during normal business hours. Meeting and conference rooms are also available for students or others in need of a professional space to convey ideas.
9. Aztec Student Union, San Diego State University
The Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union is a center for not only all aspects of campus life, but also for the activities of the community as well. A student fee (voted on by students) built this university, which was named after local philanthropist Conrad Prebys who donated $20 million to fund student scholarships. The SDSU Student Union works to promote student and community unity via programs and activities centered around cultural, informative, and social platforms. The Union has functions which make a campus hub thrive, including the ability to bank, have something to eat, and also provides space for student organizations.
8. Michigan Union, University of Michigan
Located on the campus of The University of Michigan, the always recognizable Michigan Union offers just about everything a Wolverine could need under one roof. Student services abound inside the Michigan Union, from endless food and banking options, to the University Store. Need to tuck away from friends or escape from your dorm room to do some studying? No problem. Take advantage of the computer access and bookstore located right in the center of campus.
7. Michels Plaza and Student Center, Randolph College
Randolph College’s Michels Plaza and Student Center is the most notable aspect of a $6 million renovation effort that began 20 months ago. This entirely alumni-funded project is a shining example of where everything started and how far things have come. The Student Center boasts beautiful views as well as amenities relevant to the the student of today, including an amphitheatre, an arcade, a fitness room with the most technologically-advanced equipment, and offices for student government organizations.
6. Student Union, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
The Student Union at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, is more than just a learning center for its enrolled students. The amenities and services offered to everyone from current students to alumni, faculty, staff, and potential students and visitors embodies and embraces the attitude of the University as a whole. The University of North Carolina, Charlotte’s core values and academic success have been responsible for the Student Union’s expansion, and the most recent addition in 2009 offers all members of its community the best in dining, educational, and social experiences.
5. Smith Campus Center, Pomona College
The Smith Campus Center at Pomona College offers students, faculty, and staff the best in programs and activities. The amenities at Smith Campus Center include meeting rooms equipped for media presentations necessary for business, club, or study events, as well as rooms with larger square footage for conferences or social gatherings.
4. University Student Union, Cal State University, Long Beach
The University Student Union at Cal State University, Long Beach has plenty of options, whether you are looking for a bite to eat, a place for recreational sports, including swimming and bowling, or just want to hang out with friends to play video games or watch a movie. The stated goal of the University Student Union is to enhance the student experience and increase student learning, and to strive for quality and excellence in all aspects of our responsibilities as an organization.
3. McCormick Tribune Campus Center, Illinois Institute of Technology
The McCormick Tribune Campus Center is located on the main campus of The Illinois Institute of Technology in the Bronzeville section on the south side of Chicago, and it’s safe to say you’ll know it when you’ve found it. One of the most interesting architectural achievements in the world of student unions, the Campus Center is attached to an active train track, surrounded by a stainless steel tube to dampen noise. The Campus Information Center and the Office of Student Life are only a couple of several student organization offices which are located here. Its close proximity to Shimer College means it also plays host to many events in conjunction with Shimer College.
2. Student Union, Oklahoma State University
The Student Union at Oklahoma State University is the largest student union in the world, weighing in at a massive 543,411 square feet! It was completed for the first time in 1951 and renovated as recently as 2011, continuing the quest to create an environment that provides the best educational, cultural, and social activities. The Student Union at OSU was funded without any money from the taxpayer, and today it pays for 75% of its expenses with revenue generated within its expansive walls.
1. Slane Student Center, High Point University
The John and Marsha Slane Student Center is High Point University’s hub of activity. At more than 90,00 square feet, it is capable of accommodating and hosting countless day-to-day as well as special activities. On one side of a 40-foot glass atrium you will find a student wellness area complete with a weight room, indoor track, basketball court, an aerobics room and cardiovascular center. It connects on the other side to an on-campus post office, a 450-seat cafeteria, a Barnes & Noble managed bookstore along with more dining options in the food court, including Chick-Fil-A, Subway, and Starbucks. Outside the Student Center, students and faculty alike take advantage of more basketball courts, several tiers of dining space, as well as the Maynard Swimming Facility.
Honorable Mention: Memorial Union, University of Wisconsin
The Memorial Union in Madison is best known for its iconic terrace, dotted with brightly colored chairs and overlooking Lake Mendota. On warmer days in the spring, summer, and fall, the terrace is sure to be full of Badgers enjoying ice cream, popcorn or brats, or just relaxing and watching the sailboats go by. The University of Wisconsin also produces a Terrace After Dark entertainment program, with a stage for live music as well as outdoor movies.