While the new union at University of Dayton was being constructed in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. "Kennedy was our country’s only Catholic president, and university students, faculty, and staff rallied to have the union named in his honor," said Amy Lopez, director.
Since it opened as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Union in 1964, the building has undergone several minor and some major renovation processes. "Meeting rooms and lounges get updated regularly, and our lobby underwent a total renovation back in 1997," Lopez said. "The Hangar game room had a $1.25 million renovation in the summer of 2004."
While the Memorial Union offers many attractions to students such as the games room, Gallery snack shop, and a food court, Lopez believes the hallmark of the union is "community building—creating a welcoming environment for students, staff, faculty, alumni, and visitors to the campus."
According to Lopez, this "tradition of hospitality" comes from the Marianists, a Catholic order and founders of the institution. "The Marianist family includes lay people, priests, brothers, and sisters who educate for formation and faith, provide an integral quality education, educate in family spirit, educate for service, justice and peace, and educate for adaptation and change.
"Our educational experience fosters the development of a community characterized by a sense of family spirit that accepts each person with loving respect, and draws everyone in the university into the challenge of building community," Lopez said.
With the majority of union employees being students, they play a critical role. "We train our students to not only do their work to the best of their ability, but to take initiative, work together as a team, and represent the university to our community and our guests," Lopez said.
Conversely, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Union also serves the students. With students using the Torch Lounge as a studying space and Hangar games room as a social base, they can be found enjoying themselves and one another all around the union.
The University of Dayton and the union offer a wide variety of programs to students. The Campus Activity Board provides two weekends of alcohol-free fun each month, including movies, recreational trips, and art performances.
However, the most notable programs at the union is "Christmas on Campus," sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. "Since the 1960s, students have organized ‘Christmas on Campus,’ which coincides with one of our Catholic feast days, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception," Lopez said. "University of Dayton students decorate the entire campus for Christmas, and then adopt area children for one evening and experience the beauty and magic of Christmas with them."
University of Dayton
Private, religious-affiliated, four-year
Location: Dayton, Ohio
John F. Kennedy Memorial Union
Director: Amy D. Lopez
size: 120,000 sq. ft.
Operating budget: $760,000
(not including programming)