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History Wall

About the Memorial Union


"They counted not the cost."

When the Emporia State University Memorial Union opened on February 15, 1925, it became the first student union building west of the Mississippi River, the second “memorial” union, and the eighth student union in North America. The idea of a student union was new in the years immediately following World War I. The campus community wanted to commemorate the lives of our students lost in the Great War and the 1898 Spanish-American War.

A student union would be a suitable utility memorial underpinned by a student developmental philosophy. It would serve the campus as a “living room” for life outside the classroom. Students and faculty organized to raise funds to build the original 1925 structure and a planned phase two KSTC Colonial Ballroom which would open in May of 1929. Early amenities included meeting rooms, lounges, a laundry, and barbershop.

Over the decades, the Memorial Union has grown in size. Four major additions kept pace with the growing enrollment. Student needs were met whether it was a fully appointed soda fountain following WWII or wireless technology essential today. In 2010, the union underwent a comprehensive renovation adapting to serve the needs of future generations of Hornets. The Memorial Union has been rededicated through the years to honor the service and sacrifice of student-veterans in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

The Memorial Union today celebrates over 90 years of service. The three-level structure contains 168,000 square feet of space devoted to conference, dining, meeting, recreational, and lounge facilities. The union continues to serve as the hub and center of campus life at Emporia State, and additionally serves as the premiere conference center in the Flint Hills.

Board of Directors

The Memorial Union is a not-for-profit corporation governed by a Board of Directors and led by the Director of the Memorial Union & Student Involvement and the director's administrative team. The Vice President for Student Affairs serves as the President of the Memorial Union Board of Directors and conducts the board meetings. The board consists of faculty, students, and administrators. The board meets four times each year.