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History of the Union
Below is a brief history of the Memorial Union. To jump to a specific section, simply click any of the links below.
- Creation of the Memorial Union
- Memorial Union Renovations
- The Memorial Union: Honoring Many
- The Memorial Union today
The creation of the Memorial Union.
The idea for a Student Union was born in 1945, and use of the word "Memorial" reflects students' sentiments to dedicate the building as a living monument to the memory of those UND students and graduates who died during World War II. In the years that followed, students and alumni worked together to raise funds and petition the State Board of Higher Education to approve a student fee of $5 per semester to help fund the building. After years of fund-raising, planning and construction, the Memorial Student Union was dedicated on May 18, 1951. For the first time in UND history, a central place to meet, obtain daily services, and sponsor activities was created. Since then, the Memorial Union underwent two name changes, two additions (an east addition in 1964 and a west addition in 1983), and over 50 renovations and facility improvements.
Bringing the Union up-to-date.
In October 2004, the University celebrated the completion of a two-year, $4.7 million renovation to the Memorial Union. After several years of planning, and prompted by the relocation of the bookstore to its current location by the Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND started construction on a $3.5 million renovation project in the fall of 2003. In December of 2000, Student Senate approved a resolution to fund the project in its entirety through student fees. Plans to renovate the food court also took place during this time, and construction began in the summer of 2004, at a cost of $1.2 million funded by UND Dining Services revenues. The food court opened as "Old Main Marketplace," featuring new University-operated franchises such as Sbarro's and A&W. Deli sandwiches and Asian cuisine concessions as well as a wide variety of "grab and go" items were also added to the food court.
The Memorial Union's renovation projects improved the building's internal aesthetic appeal, upgraded building systems, provided new and renovated administrative and retail spaces, and created a new mall area. New functions, such as a convenience store, coffee and snack shop ("Stomping Grounds"), an Internet Café, and the "Loading Dock", a new multi-purpose room for student events and activities, were added to the Memorial Union, which opened for business at the start of the fall 2003 semester. During the renovation period, the University also relocated the Campus Post Office to the Memorial Union from Twamley Hall, and the Athletic Ticket Office from Hyslop Sports Center.
The Memorial Union: Honoring many.
Throughout the years, students have re-affirmed their sense of patriotism and respect for those who served in the military. This can be seen through plaques located in the west and south entrances that also honor the memory of those who served and died during the Korean and Viet Nam era conflicts. Records also indicate that the Union will include a "memorial room" in which the pictures of those UND students who died during World War II would be hung. Today, the "Memorial Room" continues to display those pictures in honor of some of UND's most heroic students.
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorism attacks on the United States, students planted and dedicated a tree outside the north entrance with a plaque that reads: "This tree grows in memory of the lives lost due to acts of terrorism on September 11, 2001 - donated by UND Student Government, 2001-2002." In September 2002, students dedicated a cluster of flagpoles on the north lawn with a monument that reads: "The 2001-2002 UND Student Body Dedicates This Monument to All the Men & Women Who Have Unselfishly Served To Protect Our Country."
The Memorial Union today.
Today, the Memorial Union is home to more than 30 University and commercial activities, as well as a variety of meeting rooms, study areas, TV lounges and over 300 full time and student employees. When taken together, the Memorial Union provides a number of essential services that are available to a campus community of over 15,000 students, faculty, staff, visitors, and others. The Memorial Union also remains a living monument to its patriotic roots, symbolizing the commitment and pride students and alumni have long had for the University of North Dakota