It’s that time of year again. The nights are cooler and the days are shorter, which means it’s time for students to start heading back for classes at the University of Nevada, Reno. If you are one of the more than 4,500 freshmen slated to start this year or just curious about the history of the state’s first university, take some time to explore some of these points of interest and unique facts about the University.
UNR boasts 11 diverse museums, galleries and attractions dedicated to furthering the cultural education of Northern Nevada. Take a walk through the University’s Arboretum and admire the living trees, shrubs, flowers and native flora. If you’re more interested in Nevada’s geology, paleontology and mining history, then check out the W.M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum. Located in the Mackay School of Mines, it is the state’s second-oldest museum and specializes in early Nevada mining history with samples from famous mineral districts like the Comstock Lode, Tonopah and Goldfield. Who doesn’t like staring up at the stars and gazing into space? The Fleischmann Planetarium is a public center for atmospheric studies of the Desert Research Institute. Experience the impressive digital star theater and a hands-on exhibit hall. Visit UNR’s website for a list of all attractions in their museum district.
Many of the buildings on the south end of campus are more than 100 years old. In fact, UNR has its own Historic District made up of 13 buildings. The moment you reach the quad area, you’ll realize you may have just found your new favorite spot on campus. Morrill Hall, which is located at the head of the quad, was built in 1886. This was the first building constructed on campus when the University moved from Elko to Reno in 1885. When the University opened in its new location, Morrill Hall was campus — it housed classrooms, dorm rooms, offices, and even the library. Today it is the home of the University’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, and the University of Nevada Press. Another historical building of interest is Lincoln Hall. Built in 1896, Lincoln Hall served as an all-male dormitory and was the longest continuously operating residence hall on a college campus in the nation until its closure in 2015. After undergoing extensive renovations, the old dormitory is now open to the public and serves as a space for faculty offices. Visit the University’s Building Directory for a complete listing of other historical buildings to visit while on campus.
It only takes a quick walk through campus to see that a family with the name of Mackay had a huge influence on the University’s growth. John Mackay was an Irish immigrant who helped with the extraction of over $100 million in ore from the Comstock Lode in nearby Virginia City. His family donated approximately $2 million which funded the construction of several buildings including the Mackay School of Mines, the Mackay Science Hall, the quad, and Mackay Athletic Field. In addition, John’s son Clarence donated the beloved John Mackay statue you see just outside Mackay School of Mines on the north end of the quad. During finals week, students pay tribute to John Mackay by putting empty coffee cups, energy drinks and other college-esque beverages in front of the statue in hopes to get good grades on their finals.
In 2008, the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center was built. The Knowledge Center is one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the country. And it’s not just a library…this 295,000-square-foot, five-story building is also home to technology resources, academic support, and space designed for collaboration. This is an all-inclusive building dedicated to research and education with the student in mind.
Nicknamed the Jewel of the University of Nevada, Reno, Manzanita Lake is one of the most iconic landmarks on campus. Although any recreational use of the lake is prohibited, it is home to swans, ducks and even some turtles. There is a nice pathway that takes you along the lake to Manzanita bowl which is a grass area students often use to picnic, relax, and study. There isn’t a more picturesque spot on campus after a snowfall than Manzanita Lake.
After spending a morning or afternoon cruising around campus it’s easy to work up an appetite. Good thing both campus and the surrounding area offer a variety of local dining options for your liking. For good burgers and cold drinks, don’t look much further than The Wal’ or Archie’s. Located across the street from Mackay Stadium on N. Virginia Street, these restaurants are time-honored traditions of the Nevada Wolfpack. If you are looking to stay on campus, visit the Joe Crowley Student Union. Pick between local joints like Great Full Gardens, Port of Subs, or Cantina del Lobo to satisfy that hunger craving. If you find yourself on the south side of campus, don’t feel like you must make that trek uphill to find tasty food options. Both Gourmelt and Laughing Planet are located nearby and make for the perfect food stop.
The University of Nevada, Reno offers a beautiful and diverse campus, with history and innovation around every corner.
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