In 1947, Valparaiso University students, acting collectively, agreed that the most needed building for the VU campus was a Union. Subsequently, the students began efforts toward the realization of such a facility. On May 28, 1955, following the dedicated work of students, staff and supporters of the University, the Valparaiso Union was dedicated. Major remodeling to the Valparaiso Union took place in 1975, again in 1995. Planning for a new facility began in 2001, with the old Valparaiso Union eventually closing in December of 2008.
The largest construction project in University history culminated in the opening of the Harre Union in January 2009. The 202,000-square foot-building was part of a $74 million project that included construction of the two-story facility in addition to expenditures for furnishings, kitchen equipment, development of supporting campus infrastructure, site preparation, professional fees and an endowment fund to support building operations. The project, has centralized many student services including dining and mail services that were provided in several locations, was completely funded by private gifts; no tuition fees were used in the construction of this project.
The current facility provides an array of amenities designed to enhance the sense of community on campus, foster leadership development, promote opportunities for service and understanding cultural diversity, support the academic program and provide a variety of services to students.There are numerous places where members of the campus community can gather to interact with each other ranging from living room-style lounges to a central location for mail delivery, from a large dining room to a small café, and from areas for informal recreation to a large ballroom for lectures, dances and concerts.
Design architect for the building was Sasaki Associates Inc., a Boston-based firm that is a leading designer of college facilities. Design Organization Inc. of Valparaiso, which has aided in the design of other campus facilities, was the architect of record. The Chicago office of M.A. Mortenson Co. was the construction manager.
The building is named in honor of Dr. Alan F. Harre, who served as president of the University for 20 years prior to his retirement in June 2008. During his tenure, Dr. Harre led numerous campus improvements, including construction of five new buildings.