Supporting wellness since 1891

Wellness has been integral to Union College since its beginning in 1891. At that time, the popularity of the heath message, which focused the tandem of spiritual and physical wellness, was growing rapidly.

The people of College View were anxious to have a medical institution like the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, which operated as a health restoration resort. In 1894, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of cornflakes breakfast cereal, spoke at the College View Church proposing the establishment of a sanitarium. Soon the new Nebraska Sanitarium was operating out of one side of a college dormitory and its bakery was serving up granola and a cereal similar to Grape Nuts. 

Kellogg did not stop with the new sanitarium, but also helped the college establish a program for wellness. In 1895, he supplied the college with dumbbells, basketballs, clubs, and wands in order to promote physical fitness and a balanced lifestyle. The original gymnasium space for these strength-building activities was in the basement of the first administration building and became known as the “dumbbell room.”

Each year Kellogg offered a full-year’s tuition to the male and female student who best exemplified attributes of moral and physical fitness. 

A new gymnasium was opened in 1943 to replace the old “dumbbell room” and today’s students call this uniquely shaped facility “the Thunderdome.” 

The Larson Lifestyle Center, opened in 1980, gave increased opportunity for different types of exercise with a new 25-meter pool and the now-crowded weight room, as well as classrooms for physical education.

In 1986, Union's first varsity team was called the "Basketball Witness Team" to emphasize the athletic program's goal of making healthy connections rather than competing for the sake of winning alone. The next year, they chose the name "Witnessing Warriors," and since then the moniker has been shortened to simply "Warriors." Union now offers varsity teams in men's and women's basketball, men's golf, men's soccer, women's volleyball and a coed gymnastics performance team, all of which engage students who learn leadership, teamwork and other soft skills outside the classroom.

Union’s journey to develop top-notch wellness programs in conjunction with a thriving spiritual atmosphere will continue into the future with an expanded wellness facility to provide our students the tools and space they need to be healthy in every aspect of life.

Photo of John Harvey Kellogg in graduation regalia

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a prominent Seventh-day Adventist physician, started a sanitarium on Union’s campus and donated equipment for a fitness room for students.