The University Center opened to praises at the start of the 1982 fall semester with couches for quiet study, dining options, and offices for the SGA and the Retriever. In 1981, SGA president Terry Nolan proposed that the old Student Union building could then be repurposed into a daycare center, student organization offices, meeting spaces, and a car co-op space (an area equipped with tools for car repair). His rationale was that the Regents approved increases in student fees to help pay for the construction of the Student Union in 1968 and that entitled students to maintain use of the building thereafter. The ownership of the old building was resolved by the campus Facilities Planning Committee which split the 12,500 square foot space among the SGA, a proposed daycare center, and the Department of Theatre.
Even as the UC was opening, there was a clear need for additional space for student life at UMBC. Student needs seemed to outgrow the UC even before everyone had moved into the building, although it would be almost 20 years before the Commons opened to provide any relief. The staff of the University Center commemorated their time in the UC with this staff shirt in 2001. Some were even given out as gifts, including this one to then Library Director Dr. Larry Wilt for his on-going support.