Walk by the fountain of the Environmental Education, Science and Technology building, and you will encounter a bronze figure sitting on the side of the pond. You are coming face to face with “Doc” Joseph Kean Gwynn Silvey, a nationally and internationally recognized limnologist and a former UNT faculty member who served as the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 1952 to 1973.
Dr. J.K.G. Silvey joined the faculty of North Texas State Teachers College in 1935. From 1971 to 1975, in addition to his work at UNT, he served as associate dean of basic sciences for Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. He retired in 1977 with the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus.
Highly regarded in his field, Dr. Silvey established in the course of his tenure a nationally and internationally recognized water research program, and, in 1970, founded the Center for Environmental Studies, which became the Institute of Applied Sciences in 1973.
A dedicated educator and student advocate, Dr. Silvey taught and mentored legions of students. As a chair of the University’s pre-medical and pre-dental advisory committee, he guided students in their career choices, and wrote recommendations that helped many gain entrance to medical and dental schools. In recognition of the profound effect Dr. Silvey had on their lives, his students and colleagues established in 1965 J.K.G. Silvey Society. Today, 26 years after Dr. Silvey’s passing, the Silvey Honor Society continues to provide assistance to many future scientists and doctors.
If you would like to find details of Dr. Silvey’s water quality research, materials relating to his teaching, his work as an administrator, and his professional affiliations, please consult the Joseph Kean Gwynn Silvey Papers, 1941 – 1975 housed in the UNT Libraries Special Collections.
In various issues of the UNT campus newspapers, you will find some interesting articles pertaining to Dr. Silvey’s activities as a researcher and educator. Digitized images of these newspapers can be found in The Portal to Texas History. Here are a few examples:
“Biologists Get $35,402 Grant to Study H20.” The Campus Chat. June 12, 1969.
Ball, John. “Departments Select Honor Professors for Yucca; 10 Chosen On Faculty Excellence.” The North Texas Daily. October 13, 1971.
Greene, Sally. “Swallowing Difficulty Sends Parisian Stateside for Help.” The North Texas Daily. September 2, 1976.
UNT Libraries also hold Dr. Silvey’s publications and theses and dissertations of his students.
— by Marta Hoffman-Wodnicka, Special Collections Cataloger
“UNT dedicates statue April 25 to honor longtime biology professor.” University of North Texas News. April 18, 2008.
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