Volume 79 | Issue 1
January 2011

University of Akron, Student Union

University of Akron
Four-year, public, urban, commuter
Location: Akron, Ohio

Student Union
Director: Anne Bruno
Size:192,500 sq. ft.
Floors: 4
Year built: 2002/2004 (built in two phases)
Operating budget: $6.2 million
Student staff: 10 graduate assistants; 118 undergraduates
Nonstudent staff: 19 (full-time)
Website: http://www.uakron.edu/studentunion


In 1999, construction began on the new Student Union at the University of Akron. The first phase of the project opened in 2002, allowing for the transfer of services from the older building. The second phase of construction was on the footprint of the original union. When the entire building was completed in 2004, it offered almost 30 percent more space that the former building.

“Our original student center was named after Donfred Gardner, University of Akron student affairs advocate, educator, leader, and a member of the American Council of Education,” said Director Anne Bruno. “Within our newer Student Union is the 323-seat Donfred H. Gardner Theatre, which is home to our programming board’s movie series and serves as a venue for lectures, larger meetings, and performances.”

Special features

A hallmark feature of the Student Union is the mosaic tile wall. It offers a historical look at times and places in the university history. Additionally, Bruno noted that the building offers nearly 25 seating areas that are perfect for use by individuals, small groups, and large groups.

“Many students gather in our many nooks and large gathering spaces,” she said. “Some of the first areas occupied each day are the seats in the coffeehouse area, but large groups gather in our Union Market area.” 

Students’ role

Both graduate and undergraduate students are involved in the operation of the union.

“Graduate students and undergraduates work throughout the 12 functional areas within our Department of Student Life as well as throughout the Student Union in the various food and service options,” Bruno said. “The role our students play is monumental in providing programming and services to our three million visitors a year.”

Also, the union is governed by a Student Union Advisory Council.

“[It] is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students that are representative our student population,” Bruno said.


Over the years, the union served as the site of political rallies for Joe Biden, Chelsea Clinton, Madeline Albright, and John Kerry. The union also previously hosted LeBron James and Common.

“Some of our notable events include our annual endowed scholarship bowling and billiards tournaments where students compete for $1,750 in scholarship prize monies for each tournament,” Bruno said.

The Student Union is also the location of many annual university programs, such as greek formal recruitment, homecoming dance, Black History and Women’s History Months celebrations, World AIDS Day commemoration, Constitutional Day, Family Weekend events, Little Sibs Weekend events, opening week events, and end-of-semester celebrations.