Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.
– Chinese proverb
Volume 75 | Issue 5
September 2007

Union Spotlight: Oglesby Union, Florida State Univeristy


The college union at Florida State University was originally organized in 1946 as a community center for those attending Florida State College for Women and the Tallahassee Branch of the University of Florida. At that time, it was housed in the Officer’s Club of an abandoned air base until the mid-1950s when it moved to its current location.

The union made extensive additions in 1964 to include "dining rooms, game room, a barber/beauty shop, a ticket office, lounges, an auditorium, office, meeting rooms, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool," said Allison Crume, associate director.

In 1975, the union was given its current name, Oglesby Union, after Dean Ross Oglesby, "who had been a [Florida State University] professor of government for 19 years, serving concurrently for 10 years as dean of students," Crume said. Oglesby had been instrumental in the expanding and remodeling of the union and it facilities; he was considered "one of the key planners of the university union," Crume said.

Since its dedication in 1975, the Oglesby Union has undergone several renovations. In 1988, a computer lab, video center, Senate chamber, meeting rooms, art center, arcade, offices, and retail stores were added to the facility. "A $3 million renovation and expansion project renovated many aspects of the 30-year-old building, [such as] roof replacement, relocation water and sewer lines, and renovating restrooms" in 1995, Crume said.

In 2000, the union added the $8.5 million Askew Student Life Center, which includes a multimedia theater, meeting rooms, graduate student center, student organization offices, cyber café, and dining areas. And most recently, the ballroom in the union and parts of the Activities Building were renovated in 2001.

Unique features

A popular and unique place in the Oglesby Union is the Club Downunder. The area serves as a prime programming location for the union with events from comedians to concerts to local entertainment since the 1960s. "The Club Downunder is one of the most successful programs on FSU’s campus and continues to churn out year after year of diverse events," Crume said. Some of those performing at the Club Downunder over the years include Steve Martin, Flamming Lips, Gin Blossoms, Soundgarden, John Hammond, Goo Goo Dolls, and many more.

Students’ role

Students serve on the Union Board and Student Programming Board and as employees of the Oglesby Union. Also, the students play the role of consumer, using the union as needed for studying, meeting, and a variety of other activities.

The Union Courtyard is of special interest to students and the most popular place in the union, especially on Wednesdays. "The Student Activities Center hosts Market Wednesdays each week to allow recognized student organizations and university departments to set-up a table and share information," Crume said. For a fee, local vendors also are invited to sell items and promote businesses at the event. Often, organizations will have some sort of performance or bring in a deejay for entertainment.


In 1947, when Florida State College for Women became the co-educational Florida State University, a unique, co-ed program was established for students that is still around today: the Flying High Circus. "The only requirement to be a member of the [Florida State University] Circus is that one must be a degree-seeking student registered at [the university]," Crume said. This past school year, the circus had around 120 members. Florida State University if one of only two universities in the United States that sponsors a full-fledged circus; the other is Illinois State University.

Besides the High Flying Circus, the Oglesby Union sponsors many other programs. Seminole Sensation Week is a program that takes place the week prior to the start of classes and is filled with programs for incoming and returning students. According to Crume, in 2006, 19,239 people participated. The union also sponsors programs during parents’ and homecoming weekend each year, as well as Crenshaw Lanes, which Crume claims is the busiest 12-lane bowling lanes in the United States with 143,674 games bowled during the past year.

Florida State University
Four-year, public, doctoral granting-research
Full-time enrollment: 40,474
Location: Tallahassee, Fla.

Oglesby Union
Director: Bill Clutter
Size: 265,000 sq. ft.
Floors: 3
Built: 1952
Operating budget: $6.4 million
Full-time staff: 57
Part-time staff: 105
Web site: http://union.fsu.edu