There are two types of education. … One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.
– John Adams
Volume 73 | Issue 5
September 2005

Union Spotlight: Vassar College Center at Vassar College


Vassar’s College Center is a section of “Main Building,” the oldest and largest campus building at Vassar. In 1861, Matthew Vassar dug the first spade full of dirt for Main Building on the site of a former racetrack. Vassar had purchased the land in 1860, and the building was planned to house a variety of campus necessities. In 1975, the college center was erected by renovating and building around the existing facility. Inside the College Center, a few remainders of the old Main Building brick façade can still be seen. The five-story complex also features residence halls on the top three floors and administrative offices on the lower levels.

Unique features

Centrally located at Vassar, the College Center already acts as a special feature on campus. Once inside, students like to frequent “The Mug,” a bar located inside the College Center where students line up every night to hear various bands or deejays play their tunes. Since its new renovation in 2002, the College Center includes a large plasma screen with streaming campus advertisements. The renovation also introduced a large multipurpose room with video and projector capabilities. Additionally, a daily express lunch window was added during the renovations. Now, students and staff can opt to stop by the window for a sack lunch.

Students’ role

Students can be found managing the building from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day and 24 hours a day on the weekends overseeing all College Center activities. Student interns work for the Student Activities Resource Center where they serve 90 student organizations and assist with programming. Student employees at the Information Center help visiting guests by distributing keys to the meeting rooms, planning those meeting rooms’ daily occupancy schedules, making reservations, and answering all questions concerning the College Center. The student Palmer Gallery guards assist with art installations and guard exhibits. As Director Teresa Quinn said, “The Office of Campus Activities and the College Center could not fully function without the support of our dedicated student employees.”


Vassar’s College Center enjoys a long list of programming highlights. A longstanding Vassar tradition, the College Center staff serves tea at exactly 3 p.m. every day in the formal Main Building Rose Parlor. But if afternoon tea isn’t your thing, Vassar Technology, a student organization, sponsors “Balls to the Walls,” a dodgeball game that calls for padded College Center walls and techno music. Other annual events in College Center include the Palmer Gallery’s exhibit of children’s art pieces. Although it normally presents rotating exhibits of local artists’ work, the children’s exhibit is always special and includes “I Won’t Grow Up Day” events with fun activities. For the older crowd, during October, College Center provides the spooky décor for the all-campus Annual Halloween Party. The party always draws elaborately costumed students, who spend weeks creating the ideal guise.

Vassar College
Four-year, suburban, private

College Center
Director: Teresa Quinn
SIZE: 60,000 sq. ft.
3 and a basement level
OPENED: 1975
50 (part-time)
6 (full-time)