Over the 125 year history of North Texas many buildings have served the needs of the faculty and students. A few, such as Curry Hall and the Power Plant, have stood on campus since the 1900s. Others are remembered by alumni and faculty, but they ceased to grace the campus as new and larger structures took their place. Below is a list of buildings that exist only in photographs and the memories of those that passed through them.
The Administration Building (now known as the Hurley Administration Building) was constructed at the north end of the original football field in 1955-1956. The structure was placed on Chestnut Street and Avenue B, just west of the Union Building. President Emeritus McConnell took great pleasure in the construction of the new Administration Building. President Matthews stated that McConnell “watched this longtime dream of the college come true-and looked upon it as an accomplishment which he, faculty members, students, and ex-students had long anticipated.”
Dr. McConnell started as a faculty member at the North Texas State Normal College in 1916. McConnell rose to become a dean in 1923 before becoming the school’s president in 1934. He would serve until 1951. President McConnell died on November 24, 1955. His administration was noted for the expansion of the campus with the construction of 22 new buildings. Some of the structures that were built during McConnell’s time in office were: Marquis Hall, the Library (now known as Sycamore Hall), Chilton Hall, Terrill Hall, Bruce Hall, the Journalism Building (also known as Scoular Hall), and the Chemistry Building (also known as Masters Hall). McConnell was the President Emeritus from 1951 until his death.
In January, 1956, while the Administration Building was under construction, an announcement was released that the administration and the Board of Regents would name the building’s tower the President W. Joseph McConnell Memorial Tower. Matthews went on to say that “it is fitting that one who has had so much to do with developing the physical plant of the college should be memorialized in this symbol of the college’s growing stature. The administration and Board of Regents felt it uniquely fitting that the tower should be named the W. Joseph McConnell Memorial Tower.”
A tower in the center of campus, with chimes, had been a long time dream of the North Texas community. The first proposal, in 1928, called for chimes to replace the curfew bell and the installation of an electric clock in a tower. Other proposals failed to find funding. Money raised for the tower and carillon were used instead for the building and decoration of the first union building. Plans for a new administration building would finally bring the dream to reality. Friends of President McConnell, students, and alumni were encouraged to donate toward the purchase of a carillon for the tower. The first contribution was made by the chairman of the Board of Regents, Ben Wooten. Mr. Wooten, president of the First National Bank of Dallas, had studied under Dr. McConnell as a student at the college.
The clock face was installed in October of 1956. Originally only one face, measuring 6 feet 2 ¾ inches in diameter, was installed on the north side facing the campus. The minute hand measured 36 inches with the hour hand at 24 inches long. The hands and letters are cast in bronze. Four floodlights were installed to illuminate the tower at night.
The carillon is a 32 note Deagan Celesta Chime. The source of the tone is a series of slender metal rods which sound by electronically activated strikers. Microphones enhance the sound and carry it across campus via loudspeakers. The carillon can be played manually or with record rolls. Plans originally called for the carillon to be played each evening and for special events. Westminster chimes provide notice of the time every hour on the hour.
The dedication of the tower, which rises 189 feet above ground level, and carillon was held on December 16, 1956. President J. C. Matthews presided at the ceremony. Ben Wooten dedicated the tower. Dr. A. M. Sampley, vice president of the college, delivered the invocation. June Albright, of the J. C. Deagan Company, performed as part of the dedication ceremony. Recognized as one of the top carillonneurs in the nation, she performed “Adeste Fideles,” “What Child is This?”, and “In Dulci Jubilo” among other songs. The performance ended with the college alma mater.
During his speech Wooten stated, “He [McConnell] was a great administrator, and the Board of Regents thought it was fitting that this tower, standing as it does at the center of the campus overlooking the 22 major buildings which were built during his administration representing the culmination of a dream of student, ex-students, faculty, and Board of Regents, should bear his name.”
— by Perri Hamilton, Assistant to the Archivist
The Texas Academy of Math and Science program, popularly known as “TAMS,” began in 1987 when a bill was signed by Governor William B. Clements, Jr. that established the program at North Texas State University. The early admission program offers students in high school the opportunity to get a head start in college during their last two years in high school. Students receive two years of college credit for participating in the tuition-free program. The last two years of high school and the first two years of college are completed simultaneously.
The program has been ongoing since its inception, with over 3,500 graduates who specialize in math, science or related courses. Only two hundred applicants are allowed into the program every year in accordance with their college entrance examination scores, grades, interviews, reference letters, as well as their level of commitment and motivation. A 1990 TAMS pamphlet stated that students were expected to score at least 1000 total on the SAT, with a minimum of 550 in math. Students are selected as sophomores to attend college beginning their junior year of high school and as one might imagine, getting into the academy is very competitive.
TAMS was created to address a shortfall in the math and science test scores of American students, who fell below international averages in the 1980s. The program has been an effective means of preparing students for the more accelerated college or university-based math and science courses.
Through the program, students are encouraged to seek out science and engineering-based studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The academy is structured this way to address a growing technological infrastructure across the state which requires knowledgeable individuals in these fields as the number of jobs increases. TAMS also addresses the need for more math and science teachers in the state of Texas. Students are also encouraged to take humanities courses in addition to other offerings during this time for a broader educational experience.
In 1992, TAMS received the Excellence in Higher Education Award from the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities. That same year, Elizabeth Morales, an El Paso graduate, was selected for the National Science Foundation Youth Scholars Program on an Antarctica research expedition during the summer.
Students from the program get accepted into advanced programs at other universities, like Harvard, Rice, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Boston University, New York University, as well as Texas A&M and others. Many students involved in the TAMS program have also received scholarships and other honors, which have enabled them to further their studies at UNT or elsewhere.
In 2013, TAMS celebrated the 25th anniversary of its first class. 79 students were part of the first program with 67 of these students graduating in the academy’s first class of 1990. Today, TAMS graduates 170 students annually.
— by S. Ivie, Associate Processing Archivist
Before Roy Orbison was topping the charts, he was studying geology at North Texas State. His stay was brief; he is absent from the school’s yearbooks, but his time in Denton did a great deal to launch his career as a singer, particularly where a well-known rock ‘n’ roll classic is concerned: Unbeknownst to most listeners, numerous threads of Denton’s and UNT’s musical history are woven into the two minutes and fifteen seconds that are “Ooby Dooby.”
Orbison and two fellow musicians from the town of Wink, Texas enrolled at North Texas in the fall of 1954. A song from members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity caught his ear: “Ooby Dooby” was said to have been written in 15 minutes on the fraternity house roof by the songwriting duo Wade Lee Moore and Dick Penner. Moore and Penner recorded a handful of rockabilly selections for Sun records as “Wade & Dick – The College Kids,” together with Don Gililland, an early One O’Clock Lab Band guitarist.
According to the biography Dark Star: The Roy Orbison Story, Orbison later recounted first hearing Wade and Dick performing “Ooby Dooby”: “It knocked me flat … I was astounded because they made more music than the whole orchestra.”
Orbison’s hit recording of “Ooby Dooby” on Sun Records was the culmination of several prior versions which feature essentially the same presentation, but with variations in tempo and slight hitches in timing. Orbison’s group back home, the Wink Westerners, recorded it, and Orbison recorded it at the famed Jim Beck Studio in Dallas in 1955, and again in Clovis, New Mexico in 1956. He was not, however, the only Denton claimant to the tune: Sid King & the Five Strings, whose sound became a template for later rockabilly acts, also recorded the tune at the Beck Studio.
Ultimately, however, Orbison’s 1956 Sun Records version became the authoritative version of the tune, on which later versions were based. With that title, a little piece of Denton boldly went where no Dentonite had gone before when it was featured in a bar scene Star Trek: First Contact, in a moment of respite from fighting the Borg.
— by Maristella Feustle, Music Special Collections Librarian
A “demo,” possibly the Dallas recording:
Clovis, New Mexico recording of “Ooby Dooby”:
An alternate take from Sun, 1956:
“Ooby Dooby” makes an appearance in the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact:
Sid King & Five Strings’ version of “Ooby Dooby”:
“Hey Miss Fannie,” the “B” side to the Wink Westerners’ 1955 version of “Ooby Dooby”: