Union College Board of Trustees to honor the Ainlays

Publication Date

The Board of Trustees has voted to name the arc-shaped building under construction as part of the new Integrated Science and Engineering Complex in honor of President Stephen C. Ainlay and his wife, Judith.

The $100 million project, the most ambitious and largest in the school’s history, will be completed in phases over the next two years.

The first phase includes an addition that will be completed this fall. It will be named “Stephen Charles Ainlay and Judith Gardner Ainlay Hall.” The project also includes the renovation of three sections of the existing S&E center by fall 2019.

Trustees also selected President Ainlay to be the featured speaker at Union's 224th Commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, June 17, on Hull Plaza. Both Ainlays will receive honorary doctorate of letters degrees.

Ainlay announced last August that he would step down as Union’s 18th president at the end of the academic year. When he ends his tenure Ainlay will have completed 12 years of distinguished leadership at Union.

Under Ainlay, Union has steadily grown its applicant pool to the largest ever this past year, resulting in the most selective admissions process in history. The College completed its largest campaign and one of the largest for any liberal arts college, raising $258 million. That campaign enabled Union to build or renovate 14 major structures. Union has nearly doubled the size of the Annual Fund, which directly covers the actual costs of educating students.

Union is the most diverse and global it has ever been, and it has established Multicultural Affairs and Title IX offices to make the College a more inclusive and safer community.

In 2007, Ainlay made the College a charter signatory of the Climate Commitment, adopting a plan to reduce the College’s carbon footprint and provide research and education.

The Ainlays are ubiquitous at student events. They attend plays in Yulman Theater, concerts in Memorial Chapel, dance recitals in the Henle Dance Pavilion and games at all venues. They had a front row seat when the men’s ice hockey team won the Division I national championship in 2014.

Ainlay also capitalized on Union’s location in the Capital Region of Upstate New York. He led the acquisition of the former home of environmentalist Paul Schaffer and the Adirondack Research Library to create the Kelly Adirondack Center, which provides rich opportunities for studying and enjoying the Adirondacks.

“Stephen and Judith have served Union with distinction, providing the leadership and vision that have carried us to unprecedented heights,” said John E. Kelly III ’76, chairman of the Board of Trustees.

“Thanks to the Ainlays, we are a role model for the kind of learning the world will need in the next century. Naming a Science and Engineering hall after a sociologist and a social policy professional exemplifies the convergence of liberal arts and STEM that is uniquely Union.”