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History and Traditions

History and Traditions

Drawing from the past, shaping the future

In 1795, Union College became the first college chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York. The name Union reflected the founders' desire to create a welcoming, unified academic community open to all the diverse religious and national groups in the region. Today, Union remains one of the oldest non-denominational colleges in the country with a rich history that blends respect for tradition with an emphasis on continuous innovation.

Some milestones:


At a time when the classical curriculum continued to be the most widely accepted field of study, Union introduces a bachelor's degree with greater emphasis on history, science, modern languages and mathematics.


Along with Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, Union is known as one of the "big four."


The College becomes the first liberal arts college to offer engineering. Union was also one of the first to offer coursework in American history and constitutional government.


Union adopts co-education and welcomes the first 125 women into its incoming class, along with two dozen female transfer students.


Union introduces the Minerva Houses to enhance campus life and broaden the educational experience for students, faculty and staff.


The Peter Irving Wold Center, a $22 million, three-story, 35,000-square-foot interdiscplinary research and education facility is dedicated.


The College begins construction on the new Integrated Science and Engineering Complex. The $100 million building project is the most ambitious and largest in the school’s history.