Since 1928, the Union has been an important part of the campus community. Long considered the campus “living room,” the Memorial Union and Union South serve thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members who continue the tradition of attending art exhibits in Union galleries, meeting friends and future spouses on the Terrace or in der Rathskeller, taking an outdoor course with Hoofers, attending a world-class performance in the Union Theater, hearing a distinguished guest lecturer or simply enjoying a sunset over Lake Mendota.
Much more than just a building, the Union is a learning laboratory, a place where students discover ideas, learn new skills and apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations through creating, promoting and managing more than 1,000 events annually through Wisconsin Union Directorate committees, including art exhibits, film, music, guest lectures and service-learning opportunities. UW-Madison is known for producing more Peace Corps volunteers and business leaders than any other university. The Wisconsin Union provided a place that allowed this type of student leadership to flourish and grow
Preserving the Past – Building the Future
In fall 2006, University of Wisconsin-Madison students mounted a campaign – Preserving the Past – Building the Future. The purpose? To renovate Memorial Union while maintaining its historic integrity and to build a new south campus Union. Through a referendum to increase segregated fees, students voted to preserve and enhance the Memorial Union’s historic ambiance, while bringing the building up to code. They also voted to rebuild the south campus Union to meet the campus’s growing needs and reflect the future in green technology.
As students, staff, alumni and community members enjoy Union South which opened in 2011, our attention has turned to the Memorial Union Reinvestment. The project will include expanding the Hoofers space, renovating the Union Theater and creating a new Craftshop. By upgrading infrastructure, improving accessibility and focusing on sustainability the Memorial Union will continue to uphold its tradition as an iconic campus destination and enhance the Wisconsin Experience.
The Wisconsin Union is a self-supporting organization that does not receive state tax dollars. Because segregated student fees only cover 58% of construction costs, the Union relies on operating revenue and generous gifts of those who know and appreciate the Union’s place as the “heart and soul” of UW-Madison. Previous gifts have helped remodel meeting rooms, enhance the Memorial Union Terrace, purchase art work and support student leadership. Current priorities for private support include the following projects: