Union Christian College
Wabash Valley Visions and Voices, a digital archive of materials from the Sullivan County Public Library in Sullivan, IN, contains materials from Union Christian College, including early catalogues and scrapbooks. The Merom Conference Center approved the use of the basketball photo and the pennant.
Union Christian College was founded in 1858 in the village of Merom, (Population 850 in 1928), in western Indiana. It was undertaken by the Christian Church (New Lights), one of the forerunners of the present United Church of Christ. The impulse to found a college was “to extend to young men and women, on equal terms, the benefits of a liberal education.” The school curriculum was designed to inculcate “that broad culture which should be in the possession of every intelligent man and woman.” To that end, 24 of 36 credits required for graduation were requirements—primarily languages—English, Greek, Latin, and German—philosophy, mathematics and science. Upon completing the course work, students of good moral standing, could receive a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Divinity degree. Union Christian also awarded masters’ degrees for continued work.
Union Christian also operated a four-year preparatory program for students lacking the academic background for college-level work. For students seeking specific training, UCC offered normal and commercial departments, in addition to departments of music, elocution, and physical culture. In 1907-08 Union Christian College had an enrollment of 100 students, taught by a faculty of 14. The students’ academic life was supported by two literary societies--Franklin and Linconia. These provided opportunities for more reading, reviewing, debate and music. Each society had an entertainment night during the spring quarter. As a Christian School, UCC maintained chapters of the YMCA, YWCA and Christian Endeavor Society.
UCC survived attempts to move it to Muncie in 1904. However, it was forced to close its doors in 1924.
Bricks and Mortar
In 1919 the Herald of Gospel Liberty described Union Christian College as providing the “'academic seclusion’ so desirable in Student life.” The main building of the campus was College Hall, built in 1860 on College Hill overlooking the Wabash River. This large four-story brick building contained a gymnasium and laboratories on the ground floor, offices and classrooms on the second floor, the library and chapel on the third floor, and a museum and literary society rooms on the fourth. The chapel had been draped in black at the time of the funeral for President Lincoln. By 1908 a “Ladies Hall” was added to the campus. When the college closed, the campus stood empty until 1936. At that time the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ opened it as a conference center. Called Merom Conference Center, it still stands today with a dormitory, recreational facilities, and conference rooms for the meetings and institutes of the UCC.
College Hall was placed on the National Register in 1982.
Colors: Purple and Gold
Union Christian College bulletins are silent on the subject of intercollegiate sports. College Football Data Warehouse lists sporadic football activity with games against Butler, Rose-Hulman, Eastern Illinois, Indiana State, and Ball State, in addition to a few high school opponents. Listed results against collegiate opponents were lopsided defeats. However, a 1926 press release of Elon College’s hiring of A. R. Van Cleave noted that for the past four years he had been a very successful coach at Union Christian, his alma mater.
In 1922 UCC was one of the small independent colleges listed as candidates for membership in a state conference. In that season they were listed as playing Evansville and Oakland City.
A 1900 photo of six UCC coeds appears to be a basketball team, but no other evidence of a co-ed sports team exists.
Merom Conference Center (Nyttend, <commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Union_Christian_College_building_in_Merom.jpg>) accessed 1-25-2017
The UCC men’s basketball team shows off some very distinctive uniforms in this undated photo. (Wabash Valley Visions and Voices <visions.indstate.edu:8888/cdm/singleitem/collection/sullivan/id/7940/rec/16>) accessed 1-25-2017