The Earl R. Pond Student Union is home to myriad diverse organizations that have shaped the campus. It is host to people and events that have left lasting impressions on the minds of faculty and student alike. The Union is a gathering place that boasts 50 years of memories.
In November 1958, the initial construction of the union was completed. The $1.2 million project was 58,000 sq. ft. in size, including a grand ballroom, and facilities for bowling and billiards. It was a one of a kind building for its time and was described by the newspapers as "the building of the future." The Union was brought to life with a celebration worthy of its status. On January 5th, 1959, the new Student Union celebrated its grand opening. The gala brought prominent members of the community to enjoy tours by students in tuxedos and a fine dining experience that boasted a steak dinner on the invitations.
In coming years the Union saw several additions. Starting in 1966, an addition of 76,000 sq. ft. brought with it food service, theater, and a health center. The addition of the hypostyle in 1967 added space for student services and a study lounge and provided a connection to the library (currently the museum building). In 1971, another addition was completed and added an office wing that brought another 3,000 sq. ft. to the student union. This brought valuable office space to the existing building.
During this time the university community saw the hiring of influential people to direct the union operations and activities. Earl Pond, Greg Anderson and Ernie Naftzger began to influence and change how the Union and its organization were shaped. Naftzger, working with Pond and others, helped bring into existence such anchors as the nationally recognized Outdoor Adventure Center followed by the Craft Shop. It remains one of the longest standing craft shops on any campus in the United States.
Along with these two fixtures, the Union has become home to many student activity organizations that were formed giving students more power in deciding on issues that affected them and the campus. These include the program board, Bengal newspaper, ASISU, and others. These people have given us new perspective on the world over the decades.
The union has been instrumental in keeping our lives interesting by bringing big names to the ISU campus. Thanks to the union we have seen Louis Armstrong, Bill Cosby, Bobbie Kennedy, Ralph Nader, and many others. These people have given us new perspective on the world over the decades.
Construction has continued to take place and programs are continually implemented to benefit student development. In 1996, the Union opened the Student Involvement Center on the 3rd floor. With the expansion of ISU Student Unions the Idaho Falls campus saw the opening of their own Student Union. Named for a major donor Samuel Bennion, the Bennion building has fulfilled the union mission to the student body at our branch campus. The Students' Community Service Center and Leadership Program were initiated during the nineties to further benefit student development.
The Union today has remained the gathering place over its five decades. Today's Union has become a symbol on campus for student life. The Union has ceased to be just a building of the future but has a personality that is inviting and engaging; begging students to revisit time and time again.