Volume 77 | Issue 2
March  2009

Union Spotlight: University of Colorado–Boulder, University Memorial Center

University of Colorado–Boulder

University Memorial Center

University of Colorado–Boulder
Four-year, public, suburban

Full-time enrollment: 29,000
Location: Boulder, Colo.

University Memorial Center
Director: Carlos Garcia
Size: 264,000 sq. ft.
Floors: 6
Year built: 1953
Budget: $10 million
Student staff: 330
Nonstudent staff: 100


The University of Colorado commissioned a union to be built in 1947. It was at that time that the then-Colorado Gov. Lee Knous announced that the building would serve as a memorial to all those who had served in the country’s great wars—thus, the building was named the University Memorial Center.

The union officially opened its doors in 1953 after receiving many contributions from the community. University President Robert L. Stearns presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremonies. According to Mallory Martin, student programs coordinator, “It quickly became the jewel of the Boulder campus.”

The University Memorial Center did undergo an addition in 1964 to add a bookstore, conference facilities, additional dining facilities, and student group offices. The food services area was remodeled again in 1986. Most recently, in 2002, a 50,000 sq. ft. addition allowed for more conferencing, student group, and administrative space. This renovation earned the LEED-EB (existing building) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Unique features

Overall, the University Memorial Center offers a lot to the campus community, and more than 18,000 people walk through the doors of the building each day to partake in its offerings.

“People visit every day to grab a bite to eat, meet friends and classmates, enjoy free entertainment, catch some sun by the fountain, study with the provided wireless Internet access, run errands, or just hang out,” she said.

The union acts as a center piece for the campus. “With a wide variety of student services and student group offices in the building, the union is an exciting center for community interaction and activism,” Martin said. “At the University Memorial Center, diversity is celebrated through food, dance, art, music, and the free exchange of ideas.”

Students’ role

Students serve as the governing body of the union through the Colorado Student Union.

“The board is composed of eight students and four faculty and staff who work with the director to ensure that the union fulfills its mission of providing programs, facilities, and services that enrich the campus experience for the whole Colorado university community,” Martin said.
Additionally, students are the main customer of the college union and can be found in its dining rooms, study lounges, multicultural center, nightclub, and meeting rooms on a regular basis.


This year, the University Memorial Center started a new program, called “Time Out”—a free evening entertainment program for students.
“Time Out provides entertainment and food options to students who may wish to take a break,” Martin said. “Past events have included live music, comedy, dance performances, Henna tattoos, pumpkin carving, airings of the presidential debates, cooking classes, and tie-dying.”
The union is also home to CU GOLD, a free program to help develop student leadership. CU GOLD offers workshops along with a semester-long introductory Core Leadership Program and intermediate Applied Leadership Program.

“The curriculum includes a retreat and weekly sessions regarding leadership theory and personal development,” Martin said. “Students in these programs also participate in a community service project.”

Additionally, the Dennis Small Cultural Center provides a forum for underrepresented student groups to hold events and programs.
“The Dennis Small Cultural Center serves the campus community as a whole by providing opportunities to enhance cultural awareness and celebrate diversity and is committed to facilitating programs and resources that contribute to the intellectual, cultural, social, ethical, and personal growth of all students,” Martin said.