The Carolina Union is an organization of students, professional staff, and part-time student staff who provide programs, services, and facilities that all members of the campus community need in their daily lives. The Union contributes to the educational mission of the institution through the provision of cultural, social, educational, and entertainment programs sponsored by the Carolina Union Activities Board. Student volunteers participate in the various Union Activities Board Committees learning the many aspects of leadership and citizenship that serve them long after graduation. The many co-curricular programs offered impact the intellectual environment of the campus and create opportunities for campus members to engage in debate, conversation, and interaction around the issues of the time.
The Student Union is named in honor of Frank Porter Graham, University President 1930-49. Construction on the original 100,000 square foot building was completed in 1969 and included: meeting facilities, student offices, lounges, billiards and game room, bowling alley, administrative and Activities Board offices, an art gallery and a 400 seat capacity meeting room (the Great Hall). In the summer of 1980, a $1.75 million expansion of the original building was completed. This added approximately 20,000 square feet to the original building and houses a 400 seat auditorium, four meeting rooms, organizational offices, space for campus publications, and the student radio station. In June 2000, construction on a 40,000 square foot expansion began and renovation of the original facilities began in Spring 2002. The major overhaul of the Union took 3.5 years and cost over $15 million – all paid for by student fees.