It’s official. Union College has become Union Adventist University. The change was voted by the Board of Trustees in October 2023, and the university’s faculty and staff have been working toward the transition for the last eight months. “We believe this name will better communicate Union’s scope as we broaden our graduate offerings,” said Gary Thurber, board chair and Mid-America Union Conference president. “This name also allows us to be distinctive from the other colleges named ‘Union’ while reaffirming the connection to faith and service that welcomes all who want to experience an outstanding Christian education.”

Why stick with Union?

There is a proud legacy of service and leadership associated with the name Union College, and retaining Union as part of the new name honors the founders’ intent of uniting for a higher purpose. 

Why add Adventist?

It’s who Union is, and always has been. The university welcomes students of all faiths, but is unapologetic in fostering a uniquely Adventist campus culture. Adding the word Adventist to the name clarifies the spiritual nature of Union, and alludes to the university’s goal to prepare students to fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20. 

Why University

With the addition of more master’s degrees, Union now aligns with the definition of university used in American higher education. In the rest of the world, the name college is misleading to even native English speakers from countries like Australia, Canada and the UK where it means a secondary school. Because the cognates of college in other languages also translate to high school, many international students exclude colleges from their search. For alumni who live in foreign countries, listing a bachelor’s degree from a college creates frustration when applying for jobs. In all of these cases, university more accurately reflects the scope of Union’s educational offerings. 

Having a distinct name adds clarity. Because there were four Union Colleges and many more with Union College as part of their name, searching for “Union College” without adding “Nebraska” often led people to the wrong website. Every year, alumni donate to the wrong school, prospective students and parents find the wrong calendar or tuition rates, and very confused athletes apply to play on the non-existent hockey team. Once Union even received feedback from the Adventist Accrediting Association that made it clear they had evaluated a different Union College’s website. This sort of confusion hurt the college’s ability to recruit students and fulfill its mission.

Finally, many prospective students and parents say the name university implies a higher quality of education than college. Comparative data demonstrates that the quality Union offers is top-notch. U.S. News awarded Union a raw score (74 out of 100) that was the highest in Nebraska and among all Adventist schools, putting Union in the top 6% of all colleges and universities in the nation. If the name suggests anything other than excellence, it is misleading.