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UAB Turns 100

  • Author:
    Catherine Ferland
  • Published:
    Summer 2016
In 1915, a total of 1,999 students roved Michigan Agricultural College’s 90-acre campus—which counted 22 buildings and 126 faculty members. Such rising enrollment meant “…students found it increasingly difficult to meet and know each other,” the 1916 yearbook reported.
That set the stage for creation of the M.A.C. Union Board, a student-led group formed “…to foster a wholesome spirit of social chivalry and good feeling among its members,” with guidance from two faculty members and an alumnus.
In 1923, the group was finally able to move into its namesake building, the Union. The building’s completion had been delayed for 18 years by “tight money” and World War I.
Much has changed on campus since the student group’s launch. Yet its mission remains the same: provide low-cost or free entertainment to students by students.
Now known as the University Activities Board (UAB), the organization is run by 11 paid student directors, three advisors, two graduate students and 50 student volunteers.
Last year, UAB hosted more than 200 events attended by an estimated 90,000 students. Mixers and J-Hops of yesteryears have given way to Battles of the Bands. Staged variety shows have morphed into Spartan Idol competitions. 
UAB-sponsored game shows, craft nights, art exhibits, film festivals and special seasonal events attract a diverse undergraduate student body.
Cathy Fitzpatrick is UAB’s staff advisor. She’s been continuously involved with the organization since her days as a graduate student.
“What started as an idea from a visionary group of students has blossomed into a cornerstone of the on-campus Spartan experience,” she said.
The UAB hosted a 100th birthday weekend for members past and present last spring. Here’s a look at some of their shared history.