The first planned campus in America, Union was designed by noted French architect Joseph Ramée and includes the 16-sided Nott Memorial, a historic landmark, and Jackson's Garden, a certified natural wildlife habitat. Union is located on 130 acres in the revitalized city of Schenectady, part of Upstate New York's Capital Region. Along with Albany and Troy, Schenectady is among "The 20 Best Small Cities for College Students" (as reported by The Huffington Post). Steps from campus, the city has a mix of shops, restaurants, the Sunday greenmarket, movies, professional theater and more. The region's rich cultural heritage and thriving high-tech industry offer opportunities for student/faculty research, internships and jobs. A 15-minute drive from Albany International Airport, Union is within easy reach of New York City and Boston (three hours), Montreal (four hours), and rural and wilderness areas, including the Adirondack Mountains (one-to-two hours).
Campus Facilities & Equipment
The Nott Memorial is used for study, exhibits and special events. The Peter Irving Wold Center is an interdisciplinary hub, with leading-edge programs in biochemistry, environmental studies, electrical engineering and music research. The F.W. Olin Center houses high-tech classrooms and laboratories. The Science and Engineering Center, home to the Center for Bioengineering and Computational Biology, contains specialized research tools available for student use, including a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, Pelletron accelerator and scanning electron microscope. The Center for Neuroscience in Butterfield Hall brings together computer and research labs, classrooms, offices and collaborative spaces. The Peschel Computer Center houses the IBM High-Performance Computing Cluster, offering some of the most advanced computing capabilities among undergraduate liberal arts schools.
Schaffer Library has over 637,000 volumes, some 800 periodicals (paper) and more than 11,000 total subscriptions. Three hundred databases provide access to a quarter million printed books, documents and musical scores. The College Archives, Language Lab, Special Collections and Writing Center are also housed here, as is the Learning Commons, a high-tech, student-focused area supporting independent and collaborative research. Karp Hall houses the departments of English, and Modern Languages and Literature. Lippman Hall is home to the Social Sciences, including the departments of Economics, History, Political Science and Sociology. Lamont House is home to the departments of Anthropology, Classics and Philosophy, and the Religious Studies program.
Arts facilities include the Mandeville Gallery and Wikoff Student Gallery; the all-Steinway Taylor Music Center, which features Emerson Auditorium, a music technology studio and the World Musics Room. The Visual Arts Building includes painting, drawing and sculpture studios, Art History classrooms, darkrooms and the Burns Art Atrium gallery. The Yulman Theater is home to Mountebanks, the country's oldest student performing group. The Henle Dance Pavilion, overlooking Jackson's Garden, features classrooms, rehearsal and performance studios, and a costume shop. The Kelly Adirondack Center in nearby Niskayuna houses one of the largest research collections on the Adirondack region.
Residential options for students include traditional dorms, apartment-style housing, theme houses, Minerva Houses, Greek houses and College Park Hall. Reamer Campus Center includes dining facilities, the bookstore and various student activities. Among the athletic facilities are Alumni Gymnasium, which features the Breazzano Fitness Center, a swimming/diving pool, and dance, aerobics, spinning and yoga studios. Other recreational and sports facilities include the 3,000-seat Messa Rink at Achilles Center, home of Union's Div. I hockey teams; the Viniar Athletic Center for basketball and volleyball; and the Travis J. Clark '00 Strength Training Facility for varsity athletes. The men’s and women's crew teams train at the College's boathouse on the Mohawk River. The Wicker Wellness Center offers health, wellness and counseling services and is the home of Jenna the therapy dog.
The Becker Career Center offers a range of career planning programs and services, from resume writing and internship searches to career fairs. It works with employers and alumni to guide students in competing effectively in today's job market. Students can connect with alumni in all fields through the Union Career Advisory Network (UCAN). HireU, the center's internship and job database, contains opportunities from alumni and employers who are looking specifically for Union students.
Union offers more than 50 terms and mini-term programs in 40 countries. Sixty percent of Union students go on terms abroad, one of the highest percentages among colleges and universities. Most programs are led by Union faculty. Students also may design their own program of study abroad, and participate in non-Union and exchange programs. Three-week mini-terms are offered during winter and summer breaks in various U.S. cities and countries.
Student Organizations & Activities
Union has more than 100 campus clubs, including performance and arts clubs; cultural groups; the student newspaper, Concordiensis, and radio station, WRUC; sports clubs; 10 residential Greek organizations; 13 theme houses (from cooking to sustainability to technology); academic societies; and service and political interest groups. Cultural events include concerts, theater, dance, film and exhibits. Union’s comprehensive athletics program offers 26 varsity intercollegiate sports, organized intramurals, club sports, and recreational and fitness activities. Union is a member of the NCAA, Liberty League and ECAC Hockey. Men's and women's ice hockey compete in NCAA Division I programs; other teams are Division III. Union triumphed in the Frozen Four to capture the national hockey title in 2014.
The Minerva House system is a vibrant community and launch pad for an array of college experiences. All students and faculty members belong to one of seven on-campus houses, where they contribute in distinct ways to Union's social, cultural, academic and intellectual life. Student-run Minerva programs range from book clubs and barbecues to film series, theater outings, and cooking dinner with professors. The Kenney Community Center connects students with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, tutoring programs and many civic projects. Some 1,200 students each year are involved more than 30 service programs and other opportunities for service and leadership.
The unique Minerva House system blends academic, social and residential interests. All students and faculty are assigned to one of the seven houses, which host hundreds of events each year (some professors even teach preceptorials there). There are also “Theme Houses,” which are on-campus housing where people who have similar interests can live, such as the Ozone House for environmentally-oriented people.
Between Greek and Minerva life, there is “a vibrant social life” for all students, though quite a few admit that the emphasis on the “huge” Greek life “could certainly be reduced.” “Most of the campus attends parties on weekends,” which is “a great way to relieve the stress caused by being at such an academically rigorous schools and also meet new people.” In class, however, “we’re all nerds at heart, and we can talk books and numbers all day long.” Everyone also goes to free campus movies and other events like “concerts, magicians, comedians, roller skating, and others.”
The Capital Region is “all around us, so if you’re bored you’re just not trying hard enough,” says a student. There is a bounty of events and organizations, so “one has to try to NOT be involved.” “I never feel like the campus runs out of things for me to do,” says a senior. Dating is “thin” at Union: “it is not a couples’ school,” however it IS a hockey school.