History of the UNT Union and why it is changing today

The University of North Texas, founded in 1890, has expanded from its birth into a globally renowned University that currently educates an enrollment population of over 36,000 students. Its facilities and programs have expanded in accordance to the growth of the University’s student body and the overall development into being the distinguished institution today. However, with the new Master Plan Project, facilities and programs of UNT are changing once again. The UNT Union is expected to have a complete turnaround that includes more space for study and leisure and more offices to enhance students’ experiences.

O’Neil Ford designed the first Union of UNT in 1931. However, the Great Depression prevented the building of his design. For 16 years, other attempts were made to build the first Union but failed. Finally, in 1948, legislation allowed for the initiation of the project. Building began in 1949.

The first Union, the Memorial Student Union, was dedicated on March 31, 1949. The Memorial Student Union contained a “living room” for socializing, a snack bar, and dances at the “Slab” and “Howdy Room.” Also, the Aces of Collegeland, the predecessors of today’s UNT Lab Bands, performed weekly at the Student Union.

By the early 1960’s, the growing student body of UNT lead to plans for expansion of the Union. Remodeling and construction began in 1963.

Ten years later, in May of 1973, a new plan for expansion was established and approved. The plan would soon double the space of the facility. Dedication of the newly reinvented Student Union occurred on March 7, 1976.

The next era of the Union occurred around the year 1997, which brought much of the establishments and services that are currently at the Union. This era saw the birth of the Campus Chat, a bank, and other services and resources seen today (such as UPC and the Gallery).

But why are there plans once again to remodel and reconstruct the University Union?

Like the 1960’s, there is a noticeably growing student body, and the existing Union has proven to be too small and inadequate for the current student body and would soon be worse for the future, larger student body.

The Union Master Plan Project hopes to expand the current Union into a center for campus life. With an ever-changing and growing UNT community, the University Union must fit and adjust accordingly to the needs of the community. This includes services, resources, and offices that effectively enhance the UNT experience.

Dean of Students, Dr. Maureen McGuiness, states in regards to the Master Plan Project, “The Union should be the heart of campus, the living room of your college experience. The Union may be the place you meet your future spouse or best friend; where you get involved in a program that requires your special touch or plan a dance with your student organization; it could be the place you meet your lifelong mentor or connect with your favorite UNT tradition. The University Union will enhance your student experience.”

The Union Master Plan Project will bring an expansion to the University Union unlike any other the campus had seen in the past.