Office of the President

Union College Challenge

At the start of the 2021-22 academic year this September, President David R. Harris re-launched an initiative begun at his inauguration in 2018.

The Union College Challenge encourages all members of the Union community to expand themselves – and their community – by getting out of their comfort zone to gain a new experience and a broader perspective.

"The founders of Union College, who came from different Christian denominations, left their cultural comfort zones to create the first non-denominational College in the country,” Harris said at Opening Convocation. “I ask how we can follow their lead."

"Many times over the past 19 months I have referred to COVID as our collective, involuntary, Union College Challenge. Meeting this challenge has forced us to become comfortable being uncomfortable, and to look for light amid much darkness."

In reviving the Union College Challenge, Harris encouraged members of the Union community to think about ways in which they have challenged themselves throughout the pandemic and what activities they should keep doing.

For this part, Harris said he plans to spend more time reading novels, a pastime he has picked up during the pandemic. He noted that many students have related a renewed appreciation for the power of reflection – spending time alone, walking or meditating.

"What will you continue doing from the past 19 months?" he asked. "I encourage you to think about this and, if you are inclined, share using #UnionCollegeChallenge."

President Harris issues the #UnionCollegeChallenge
A message to the Union community

President Harris has called on us to join him in becoming more comfortable being uncomfortable, and in the process to growing as individuals and as a community. He asked that each of us commit to doing at least one thing that is new, in our studies, our jobs, or our personal lives. What takes you out of your comfort zone? What will help you to learn and grow? This is the #UnionCollegeChallenge.

Union College Challenge

Participating in the #UnionCollegeChallenge is simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Post to social media what you want to accomplish and why it pushes you beyond your comfort zone. Please make your challenge a responsible choice that doesn’t put you or others at any risk of harm.
  2. Post updates as you work towards achieving your goal. Give others a chance to support you in achieving your goal.
  3. Post about the experience after the goal is achieved. We all want to celebrate your achievement!
  4. After you complete your challenge, fill out this short form. Provide us with your email if you want to receive a #UnionCollegeChallenge coin (only one coin per person, but no limit to the number of times one can participate).

If you’re not using social media you can still join in! Simply send a note to the following address with your contact information and information about your challenge. And when you’re done send us another note saying that you have completed your challenge and tell us about the experience.

Union College Challenge Medal another side

Presidents Office
Union College
807 Union Street
Schenectady, NY 12308

You need not have a Union College affiliation to participate.