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Union College

Union College is a private, non-denominational liberal arts college located in Schenectady, New York, United States. Founded in 1795, it was the first institution of higher learning chartered by the New York State Board of Regents.


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United Methodist Church
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Union Garnet ����

College History


Places of higher learning were few in the early days of the Americas. During the colonial period (1636�1769) of American history, nine surviving institutions of higher education were founded,a largely in association with religious denominations and devoted to the perpetuation of traditional forms of religious culture. Officially chartered in 1795, Union can trace its beginnings to 1779. Certain that General John Burgoyne's defeat at the Battle of Saratoga two years before would mean a new nation, nearly 1,000 citizens of northern New York (which then included what eventually became Vermont) began the first popular demand for higher education in America. Local academic and religious activists persisted in these efforts for sixteen years until the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York recognized the school with that institution's first charter. By 1799, another 16 surviving collegesb had been chartered or founded in the United States, to bring the total to 25 at the end of the 18th century. But, in the years between the American Revolution and Civil War, the legal foundations of 182 permanent colleges were laid in the United States. Hundreds more were born but proved short-lived, largely because of financial limitations and denominational competition. Not the least of the obstacles faced by these hopeful institutions was the fact that many of them were started without adequate continuing support, in outlying communities whose populations and prosperity all laid in the future. Of the 182 colleges and universities founded in those years, well over a hundred appeared outside the original thirteen colonies. Union College, like many of these, was founded in what was nearly a wilderness, in the town of Schenectady, New York on the Mohawk River; at the time, the town had fewer than 4,000 residents. The cities of Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo did not yet exist, and western New York was very sparsely settled; the total white population of the area beyond what is now Rome was below 2,000. Union's charter was sixteen years in the making. Even before the Revolution had ended, a new "rising democratic tide" was overtaking the colonists. The old ways, and in particular the old purposes and structure of higher education, were being pushed aside. Practical education for the new man of commerce and politics was the new desire, not just classical education for the professions and the ministry. Every hamlet and rude settlement aspired to become an "Athens of the West", and Schenectady was no exception. The Mohawk and Hudson River regions were for the most part dominated by the Dutch in those years, and the Dutch had seen no particular need for a college of their own other than Queen's College (now Rutgers University). Queens's College, while intended in part to provide a classical education, had also been founded specifically to train ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1779, John C. Cuyler, Senior Elder of the Schenectady Dutch Reformed Church, presented a petition, signed by nearly 1,000 citizens of northern and eastern New York, to the New York Assembly asking permission to form a corporation to found an academy or college in Schenectady, to be called Clinton College. This has been said by some to be the first expression in America of a popular demand for higher education. This petition, along with a second one in 1782, failed in its purpose, despite an attempt by Governor George Clinton in 1780 to create the new college by executive order. In the meantime, the Dutch Church continued to show an interest in establishing an academy or college under its control in Schenectady. In 1778, the Schenectady Church invited the Rev. Dirck Romeyn, from New Jersey, to visit Schenectady, evidently anticipating the need for an assistant minister in the near future. This need arose in 1784, and Romeyn was invited by John C. Cuyler (of the first petition), to "come over and help us" in Schenectady. Cuyler was probably influenced by the distribution of a plan, two years earlier, for establishing an academy and then a college, accountable to the Dutch Church, in Schenectady. The plan's author was the Rev. Dirck Romeyn. As a result, the Schenectady Academy was established in 1785 and thus originated the first organized school system in Schenectady. The Academy flourished, reaching an enrollment of about 100 within a year of its founding and continued within that range until its replacement by Union College a decade later. The Academy offered a full four-year college course by at least 1792, as well as a course of elementary and practical subjects (which were taught mainly to girls). Attempts to charter the Academy as a college in 1786 and 1792 failed, but the Academy itself was finally chartered in 1793. However, in 1794, a request to the Board of Regents to charter a college was rejected, on the grounds that the school was neither academically nor financially ready for that step. But the boosters of the new college were not to be so easily defeated. In early 1795, the Board of Regents found before them two petitions to charter colleges: Union College in Schenectady (the first time the name "Union" appears), and Albany College in Albany. One of the main arguments advanced on behalf of Union College was that the cost of living in Schenectady was less than in Albany, and in any event it was too expensive to send aspiring local scholars to Columbia. This time, the petition was successful; the full text of Union College's charter was ratified by the Board of Regents on February 25, 1795 (still celebrated by the College as "Founders' Day"). While it was the first college chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, Union College was still not the oldest institution of higher learning in New York; that honor goes to Columbia College, founded by royal charter as King's College in 1754

College Specialty


Union College, founded in 1795, is a scholarly community dedicated to shaping the future and understanding the past. Faculty, staff, and administrators welcome diverse and talented students into our community, work closely with them to provide a broad and deep education, and guide them in finding and cultivating their passions. We do this with a wide range of disciplines and interdisciplinary programs in the liberal arts and engineering, as well as academic, athletic, cultural, and social activities, including opportunities to study abroad and to participate in undergraduate research and community service. We develop in our students the analytic and reflective abilities needed to become engaged, innovative, and ethical contributors to an increasingly diverse, global, and technologically complex society.



Since 1797, the year of the first graduation, Union alumni have distinguished themselves in fields such as law, medicine, ministry, botany, geology, engineering, local, state, and federal government, literature and poetry, photography, military service, education, journalism, and architecture. Among Union�s 19th-century graduates were important figures in American secondary and post-secondary education. These included Gideon Hawley5 (1809), the first superintendent of public instruction in New York State; Francis Wayland5 (1813), president of Brown University; Henry Philip Tappan5 (1825), president of the University of Michigan; Sheldon Jackson5 (1855), who was the first superintendent of public instruction in Alaska and introduced the idea of domesticating reindeer as a food source for the native population; and Laurenus Clark Seelye (1857), the first president of Smith College. Union has produced many graduates who had (and continue to have) distinguished careers in government and public service. John C. Spencer6 (1806), Secretary of War and Secretary of the Treasury; William H. Seward6 (1820), Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, Governor of New York, and architect of the Alaska Purchase from Russia; Chester A. Arthur6 (1848), 21st President of the United States; Samuel R. Thayer (1860), United States Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Benjamin Harrison administration;6 and Neil Abercrombie (1959), the current Governor of Hawaii, are some of the alumni in this sphere. In addition, Union had two alumni serve simultaneously as Secretary of State: while William H. Seward served as U.S. Secretary of State, Robert Toombs (Class of 1828) served as Secretary of State for the Confederate States of America. Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States, studied Nuclear Physics at the Graduate School. In 1845 Union established a course in civil engineering. Many of the graduates in this course went on to work on significant construction projects. In fact, it has been claimed that, for a time, the �designers and builders of the country�s canals and railroads were overwhelmingly graduates of the military academy at West Point, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Union College��. Among these early engineering graduates were James Chatham Duane6 (1844) and Jacob Hays Linville6 (1848). Solomon Deyo (1870) was the engineer in charge of constructing the first New York City subway system.6 A number of alumni have made meaningful contributions to arts and letters: Joel T. Headley6 (1839), author of numerous books about the Adirondack Mountains and early American history; William James Stillman6 (1848), photographer and author; Fitz Hugh Ludlow6 (1856), author of The Hashish Eater; Andrea Barrett (1974), winner of the National Book Award (for Ship Fever) and the Pulitzer Prize for works of fiction; and David Markson (1950), author of titles such as The Ballad of Dingus Magee. Other notable Union alumni include: Baruch Samuel Blumberg (1946), winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; Henry Wager Halleck7 (1837), chief of staff for the Union Armies during the Civil War; William F. Fox (1869) Superintendent of Forests at the Adirondack Park in New York State; Howard Simons (1951), managing editor of The Washington Post during the Watergate era; Nikki Stone (1995), winner of a gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics for aerial skiing; Armand V. Feigenbaum (1942), American businessman and developer of the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM); Major General Michael G. Dana, US Marine Corps; Andy Miller(1990), former VP of Apple's mobile advertising iAd, Co-founder and ex-CEO of Quattro Wireless, co-owner of Sacramento Kings and former President and COO of Leap Motion; Richard K. Templeton (1980), chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments; Alan F. Horn (1964), the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and former President and COO of Warner Bros.; Kate White (1972) former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine.



Urban: 120 Acres, Including 8 Acres Of Formal Gardens