Lincoln, Nebraska’s Union College is a primarily undergraduate university backed and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Beginning with just 73 students when it opened in 1891, it is a college “inspired by faith in Jesus Christ and dedicated to a personal, student-focused environment… empowering students for learning, service, and leadership”.
Still a strong Christian school to this day, Union’s beliefs serve as the “soil from which [their] vision and mission flower” and are indistinguishable from any curriculum taught there. Daily ministries, devotionals, and chapel services are the norm on campus, with a student’s spiritual growth just as important as their educational. A spirit of volunteerism exists throughout Union, including annual days of service called Project Impact, a 29 year tradition whereby classes are suspended for the day and all students go into the community to serve in some capacity.
Union’s academic programs are strong, yielding annual rankings in the top tier of colleges in the region. Offering Bachelor and Associate degrees mainly, there are currently 50 majors offered to the 1000+ students enrolled. There are eight different academic divisions at Union (including Religion, Business/Computer Science, and Emergency Management/Exercise Science(?)) each offering the same high quality, Christ-centered liberal arts education that has led so many grads to successful lives of service and leadership. In addition the two year and four year degrees, there is one Master’s level program here, a Master of Physician Assistant Studies. There are some online classes offered and Internet aspects to courses, but they do not currently offer any distance learning degree programs or real online learning in any real capacity. Popular majors at Union include education, health care, and religious studies, but many of the pre-professional programs are popular and graduate schools often snatch up Union graduates fresh out of commencement.
Teachers here aren’t held to the same “publish or perish” guideline so many colleges make their faculty adhere to, as research takes a back seat to the priority of teaching. With small class sizes numbering in the high mid-teens and a faculty to student ratio of around 1:12, with around half of the professors holding a PhD.
As mentioned, Union’s Seventh-day Adventist ties create a service learning environment at Union that has put it in the top 3% of colleges in volunteerism and service learning. Looking to take what students learn in the classroom and see it applied in a real world, service oriented environment is essential to the Christian ideas intermixed with all areas of study, whether it’s serving food or international rescue/relief programs. Union students are taught how to help not just in their community, but on a global scale. Over 10% of Union students take a year off to travel on a missionary work.
International studies and missionary trips are also common here, with students taking a year or so off from formal education to pursue service oriented work in countries from Honduras to Egypt, as well as closer to home.
Looking to turn out the next Christian leaders of tomorrow, always with an eye towards benefitting the community around them, and providing a fine educational base for any student, Union College in Nebraska strives to change the world for the better, one student work at a time.