Posted by & filed under 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's.

From the 1920s to the 1960s the Stage Band provided a reliable source of entertainment on Saturday nights on the North Texas campus. They were also known across Texas and in surrounding states. The Stage Band was formed in 1927-1928 and led by band director Floyd Graham. Graham, who grew up in Denton, was the Denton High School band director when President Robert L. Marquis hired him to work in the music department and take charge of the school’s bands in 1927. The band both provided employment for the student band members and filled an entertainment need by supplying music for the silent films shown on campus on weekends. They quickly added performances for dances held in Harriss Gym, dances and movies shown at the College of Industrial Arts (now Texas Woman’s University), and other functions around Denton. The original eleven members were J. B. Woodrum, drums; John Broun, bass; Lois Dickson, piano, Wendell Keith, banjo, Alonzo Davis, trumpet; Wilmer Sandifer, trumpet; Bob Marquis, reeds and French horn; Floyd Brooks, trombone; Tom Rose, reeds; Oliver Lawhon, reeds; and Amos Barksdale, reeds.

Black and white photo of four young girls dressed in long skirts and heels, singing into a single microphone on a stand. Members of a band can be seen behind them, with a man standing to the far left in a suit on stage.

Local talent performing with The Stage Band, 1951.

In the fateful year of 1929, the first full length “talkie,” Lucky Boy, was shown on campus. Now that auditoriums were wired for sound, a band was no longer needed to accompany films, and the Stage Band had to adapt. Floyd Graham moved his crew from the orchestra pit up onto the stage. The first stage show was given in the Auditorium Building in the spring of 1929 where Graham was also the master of ceremonies. The band played popular tunes, backed student and area talent presented during the show, and ended with the showing of a movie. News reels and one-reel comedies were also a part of the early line-up.

The Stage Band also traveled to help earn money to pay the students and to publicize the school. They were the official band for the West Texas Chamber of Commerce Convention, and also served as the official band for the Gainesville Little Theater Circus for three years. Under the sponsorship of the Denton Chamber of Commerce, the Stage Band played at the 1930 ceremony held for the installation of the first dredge in the Trinity River navigation project in Dallas. They also performed weekly concerts in the Denton City Park. By the late 1930s, the band had also adopted a new name: the Aces of Collegeland.

Floyd “’Fessor” Graham was quite accomplished during this time as well. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Chicago Musical College in 1931, and in 1936, he was awarded his master’s from the American Conservatory of Music. ‘Fessor Graham was also the director of the Teachers College Orchestra, Eagle Band, Stage Band, Radio Ensemble, and the Salon Orchestra.

Black and white bust length portrait of a white man wearing a light colored suit jacket over a collared shirt and tie. He wears a light colored military style hat with brim in front, and across the top it reads 'Director.'

Floyd Graham, c. 1930.

During World War II the Stage Band traveled over five thousand miles in order to give performances at army camps, veterans’ hospitals, civic organizations in addition to making their weekly performance on campus each Saturday.

Black and white photo of a white man and woman standing in front of a microphone. She wears a floor length white dress and he wears a tuxedo. Members of a big band can be seen behind them.

Nancy Gates and Floyd Graham with The Stage Band, c. 1940.

Among the talent appearing on the Stage Show were Rosebud Blondell and Clara Lou Sheridan (better known by their stage names Joan Blondell and Ann Sheridan), Nancy Jane Gates (who first appeared in the program at the age of seven), Mary Louise Tobin (who went on to perform with Benny Goodman and several other big bands); Alpha Louise Martin (who performed with Herbie Kay and his orchestra), the Moonmaids (who performed with Vaughn Monroe), and Pat Boone.  President Marquis’s two sons were also members of the band. Gene Hall (founder of jazz studies at UNT), Tome Rose, and Amos Barksdale, Rudolph Fuchs, Judson Custer and Sidney Hamilton played with the band before becoming UNT faculty members. Joe Mosely, Harry Babasin went on to work as professional musicians. Some band members went on to play with bands such as Wood Herman, Benny Goodman, Fred Waring, Harry James, and Tommy Dorsey.

Black and white photograph of a white man in a suit singing into a microphone with a big band behind him.

Pat Boone with The Stage Band, c. 1950.

The Stage Show remained popular through the 1950s, but by 1961 the Stage Show ceased to be a weekly show. This was due to the decline in show’s attendance that was affected by students having access to cars, other entertainment venues that were available and the changes in the culture at the time. The show transformed into a once a year performance from 1962 to 1970.

Floyd Graham was a beloved member of campus throughout his career, and in 1958 the United Students of North Texas, the student government organization, honored him with ‘Fessor Graham Day and the creation of the ‘Fessor Graham Award. The resolution was passed in appreciation of Graham’s thirty years of service to North Texas. Floyd Graham was the first person to receive the ‘Fessor Graham Award.

Floyd Graham retired in 1973 after 47 years of dedication supporting the College of Music, students, and promotion of talent at UNT. The Board of Regents awarded him the status of professor emeritus. He was the first professor to be so honored by the university. ‘Fessor Graham died on August 18, 1974.

Posted by & filed under 1950's, 1960's.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, freshmen (known as frosh) started their college experience with a series of gatherings. These were “get acquainted” events aimed at making students aware of campus options and encouraging the frosh to make new friends. Students were entertained at the theatre party where movies, such as “Pal Joey” and “Love in the Afternoon,” were shown in the Auditorium Building. A football scrimmage between varsity and freshman teams was played in Fouts Field. There was also an open house at the College Clubhouse. The social activities reached their climax with the Big Wheel Dance.

Three black and white photographs on a white background. All images show young people gathered, wearing nice dresses and 1950s clothing. Left photo is people sitting on benches in a row, top right photo is people sitting on the grass in a circle, bottom right photo is many couples dancing.

Images of students at the Big Wheel Dance, The Yucca Yearbook, 1955.

The Big Wheel Dance was open to all students on campus, and it was held in the evening on the Union terrace, more commonly referred to as the slab. Students showed up to dance, but were also encouraged to meet the “big wheels” on campus. Presidents of organizations, editors of the campus publications, cheerleaders, and student government representatives were present to meet the new students on campus and answer questions about the college experience. ‘Fessor Graham and the Aces of Collegeland provided the main musical entertainment, and other local singers and entertainers were also called on to enhance the event. James Hampton (a UNT alumnus who went on to a career as a movie and TV actor) appeared in 1957, billed as a comedian.

Black and white photo of a wide three story building with a large empty concrete slab in front. Around the edges of the concrete slab are benches, and a telephone pole stands at the corner closest to the camera.

Union Building, c. 1950.

Black and white photo of a large crowd of people all talking or dancing in small groups or pairs.

Students at the Big Wheel Dance, The Yucca Yearbook, 1957.

The dance was sponsored by Meritum, an honorary organization for senior women, founded in 1950, on the principals of leadership, service, and scholarship for women. Meritum was active on the North Texas campus sponsoring the Big Wheel Dance, Honors Day, and assisting with registration and service projects outside of campus. In 1968, Meritum was installed as a chapter in Mortar Board, a national honor society for senior women. It was the fourth chapter to be accepted in the state of Texas.

Black and white photo of a group of ten women in two rows. The front row sits while the back row stands. Women are dressed in dark clothing with 1950s clothing and hair styles.

Meritum members, The Yucca Yearbook, 1956.

This year COVID-19 has moved orientation online, creating a different reality for our incoming students. Virtual orientation will give freshmen and transfer students an overview of what is expected of them and the options that will be open to them on campus. Students will have to wait until the school opens to “get acquainted” with their fellow students and the campus. Hopefully, they will have as much fun as the students who showed up to dance on the slab behind the Union Building so many years ago.

Posted by & filed under 1910's, 1920's.

The Fourth of July has long been celebrated on UNT’s campus. In the 1910s and 20s, the faculty, staff and students frequently celebrated with the citizens of Denton. Here are some examples we found of how North Texas students celebrated Independence Day roughly a century ago.

In 1913, students and the community gathered to watch a parade which included floats, horseback riders, a drill team, “parade of automobiles,” a balloon ascension, and fireworks.

By 1922, Denton saw a gathering of 12,000 to celebrate the Fourth.They celebrated with a parade of floats decorated to show pioneer experiences, a large display of automobiles, addresses by political candidates, a rodeo, and a reenactment of doughboy experiences in World War I.

Three black and white photographs on a page. The top is of an old automobile with patriotic garlands, and women walking behind dressed in white nurse outfits. The middle is of four women dressed in pioneer style dresses. The bottom is of a covered wagon with seven people sitting in it with a horse at the front.

Examples of patriotic and pioneer parade floats in the Freshman Parade, Yucca Yearbook, 1925, p. 204.

In other years, groups on campus made their own celebrations, like in 1919 when the sophomore class went on a picnic, the seniors attended a sunrise breakfast, and the Van Zandt County Club had a “sunset supper” where the chief activities were picking burrs off clothing and eating.

8 black and white photographs arranged at various angels on a grey page, some photos overlapping at corners. Each photo shows a group of men and women in early 1900s dress with hats and dark suits and dresses, outdoors.

Collage of photographs of people outdoors, Yucca Yearbook, 1912, p. 214.

In 1924, Edith L. Clark requested that boarding houses display the American flag. This was done to show patriotism and honor the soldiers that died during World War I. Unfortunately, the holiday was quiet, lacking the usual gatherings and entertainments, due to rain. 

In 1927, the celebration took place over several days. On Saturday, one group of students gathered for the Stage Show. On Monday, the Fourth, students held a picnic on Pilot Knob where they also explored the hill, had supper at sunset, sang songs, and told stories. Women staying at the Corona Boarding Houses had a picnic at Egan’s pasture. The T-Club and Green Jackets held their picnic at Hickory Creek that year.

Would today’s students feel at home with these celebrations of the 1910s and 20s? Yes and no. The food would look similar. Hot dogs, fried chicken, salad, tomatoes, sweet pickles, ice cream, cake, watermelons, and iced tea were the most frequently mentioned menu items for picnics. Student groups did plan and hold their own celebrations – with the inclusion of chaperons. Chaperons were a must have for any gathering in those days, but would be completely foreign to a modern celebration or party of any kind.

This year’s Independence Day in North Texas may look a lot different from typical celebrations due to campus closures and social distancing measures, but we hope our students and all our Mean Green community safely enjoy some summer traditions this Fourth of July.

Set of six black and white photographs on a grey page. The photos show individuals of groups outdoors, on row boats and front porch steps. People are dressed in clothing from the early 1920s.

Collage of photos of people enjoying time outside, Yucca Yearbook, 1922, p. 208.

Posted by & filed under 1910's, 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, Uncategorized.

oval with black and white photograph of bust of a woman with hair up and high collar ruffled top. below is text with her name and positions "Mrs. Pearl Carden McCracken, Librarian"

Mrs. Pearl McCracken, The Yucca Yearbook, 1913.

Mrs. Pearl McCracken was the first college librarian at UNT and was responsible for building the foundations of a growing and vibrant library system at the University of North Texas.

The library started as a room in the Normal Building, next to President Kendall’s office, which housed a small collection of books. In 1903, Pearl McCracken was hired to teach English and work as the librarian. At that time the library had 1,019 books. By 1904, the library had been moved to the Main Building. Mrs. McCracken became a full-time librarian in 1908, and quickly began reorganizing the library and acquiring materials that would be beneficial to the students and faculty.

Black and white photo of brick building with small staircase leading to arched front door on the right. building has many windows and a small tower above main doorway with pyramid shaped roof. many leafless trees stand in front of building partially obscuring it.

Normal Building, c. 1896.

In 1912, the campus would be graced with its first library building, now known as Curry Hall. The library occupied the first floor and continued to grow, with Mrs. McCracken hiring her first paid assistant by 1914.

black and white photograph of building obscured by large leafless trees. The building has a rectangular facade with many windows, and the entrance at center has a large arched doorway with two large columns on either side, and a staircase in front.

Historical Building (now Curry Hall), c. 1940.

While already a member of the faculty teaching North Texas’ first Library Science classes, Mrs. McCracken also studied at North Texas, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1925 at the age of 62.      

By 1932-1933, the library housed 263,081 volumes and needed room to expand, so a second library building was built, which opened in 1937. This second library building is now Sycamore Hall.

Extremely active in the Denton community, Mrs. McCracken was a member of the Shakespeare Club, the Garden Club, and served as president of the Ariel Club in 1919.

Mrs. McCracken was also a founding member of the Iota Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma honor society, an organization for female educators. The chapter was organised in February, 1930, and she served that first year as the vice-president.

black and white photograph of older woman sitting in a chair. she wears a black dress with white lapels and two buttons on the front. she looks at the camera with his hands clasped in her lap.

Mrs. Pearl McCracken, no date.

Pearl McCracken retired in 1939 after more than 30 years of service in the North Texas libraries, and was honored with the title Librarian Emeritus. She died at the age of 85, in 1948. At the time of her death, there was a library service organization on campus called the McCracken Club.

Posted by & filed under 1910's, 1920's.

UNT first developed a health service center in response to the 1918-1919 flu pandemic. The campus had no health clinic or hospital for students when the influenza pandemic broke out. There was a hospital on campus, operated by the United States government, but it only served the student soldiers in the Student Army Training Corps.

black and white photo of large house with covered porch and balcony above, large tree next to stairs at center of house

Mulberry Street Hospital, The Yucca, 1923,.

That hospital operated out of a large house located on West Mulberry Street. When World War I ended in 1918 the government offered to sell the house and hospital equipment to the school. President Bruce approached the Board of Regents to request funding for this purchase. At that time, the Board oversaw all the normal colleges in Texas, not just one school. They refused to fund the hospital for North Texas on the grounds that they could not offer the same funds to other normal colleges in the state.

black and white photo of men sitting behind a table wearing suits to the left, with nurses in white dresses and hats to the right

“First Aid Treatment,” The Yucca, 1923.

Without the funding from the Board of Regents, President Bruce, seeing the need for such a facility, instituted the first health fee at the college. One dollar from each student in the college community helped purchase the facility and allowed the college to hire a nurse as well. That nurse was Mrs. Adolphine Grabbe who would spend the rest of her career caring for the students of North Texas. The Yucca Yearbook described Mrs. Grabbe saying, “she possesses those qualities that are essential to a person who is to administer first aid to unhappy victims who are away from home and are suffering. She thrives on emergencies and is the mistress of any situation from splinters to pneumonia.” She became the superintendent of the hospital in 1922.

black and white photo of woman from shoulders up, she wears a white collared top and a white nurses hat

Mrs. A. Grabbe, The Yucca, 1923.

In 1920 the Campus Chat, the school newspaper, published an acknowledgment of the work of hospital during the flu pandemic: “Only when the test comes does the sanitarium prove its real worth. Last year was its first, and it immediately became popular with the students, especially when there was a large amount of sickness. During the “flu” epidemic last year many students were taken care of and given the best of attention. This year during the first term there was little sickness, but with the advent of the present epidemic of colds and influenza, the hospital has been filled to overflowing for the past several weeks. Many students have objected to being removed to the sanitarium, but when their illness is over they have only praise for the treatment they received.”

The campus hospital treated hundreds of students each semester even after the 1918-1919 flu. After paying the health fee, all a student had to pay for were “doctor’s calls and castor oil” whereas in many cases treatment from a physician would have cost upwards of $800. This health service that offered so much care without demanding high costs is a prime example of North Texas innovating to provide for the needs of its students whether in response to a world-wide crisis or during a normal semester.

Posted by & filed under 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, 2010's, 2020's.

black and white photo of woman wearing a floral dress and a tiara, holding a scepter. it is signed on the bottom left in blue ink reading "Best of luck always, Phyllis George, Miss American 1971

Autographed photo of Phyllis George as Miss America, 1971

A native of Denton, Texas, Phyllis George attended North Texas State University, now known as the University of North Texas. She was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority, and also became a Yucca Beauty and a Kapa Sigma Sweetheart during her time at UNT. While a student she participated in beauty pageants, eventually winning the Miss Denton title in 1969, Miss Texas in 1970, and ultimately became Miss America in 1971.

In 1975 Ms. George joined The NFL today as a host on the live pregame show, becoming one of the first women to work nationally in TV sports coverage. She also went on to be a co-host of CBS Morning News.

She founded two companies. The first was “Chicken by George,” which she sold to Hormel Foods in 1988 after two years of operation. The second was Phyllis George Beauty which opened in 2003.

Ms. George also co-authored five books, including The I Love America Diet, Never Say Never, Kentucky Crafts, and Craft in America.

She was married twice, first to Robert Evans (1977-1978) and then to John Y. Brown, Jr. (1979-1998). She had two children, Lincoln and Pamela, during her second marriage.

She would be honored by UNT as a distinguished alumna in 1977. She received an honorary Doctor of Media Arts degree from UNT in May 1988.

Phyllis George died May 14, 2020.

More materials about Phyllis George from our collections can be found on The Portal to Texas History, including photographs, videos, and a song about her.

Posted by & filed under 1990's, 2000's, 2010's.

Today we are highlighting the D. Jack Davis Art Education Collection, which contains the professional papers of Dr. D. Jack Davis, who specialized in art education, as well as publications related to art education that Dr. Davis collected throughout his career. Dr. Davis taught at UNT for 40 years and was the founding dean of the School of Visual Arts (now known as the College of Visual Arts & Design, or CVAD). You can view the finding aid for the collection here

During his tenure at UNT Dr. Davis served as the co-director and director of the North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts (NTIEVA). The North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts (NTIEVA) was founded at UNT in 1990 as one of six regional institutes established by the Getty Education Institute, an operating unit of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The Institute was involved in the preparation of arts leaders, recognizing that leadership in the field of arts education takes many forms and dimensions, ranging from instructional leaders in schools, to educational leaders in arts organizations like museums, symphonies and community arts groups, to management positions in all types of educational and arts organizations. Among the main purposes for establishing the Institute were to:

  • enhance the programs in art education in the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas

  • to provide support for graduate students and their research

  • to provide resource materials for teachers, administrators and museum personnel

  • to provide a mechanism for the College of Visual Arts and Design and the University of North Texas to implement outreach programs to the educational and cultural communities in the DFW Metroplex and across the state.

Significant achievements were made in each of these areas. The UNT pre-service teacher education program in the visual arts is considered to be one of the best in the state, and the graduate programs in art education have been ranked among the top fifteen in the United States and Canada. 

Read more

Posted by & filed under 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's.

Claudia Webb Betti (née Mary Claudia Webb) was a Professor Emeritus of Art at North Texas State University from 1967 to 1989. She was a prolific artist and a beloved professor.

black and white photograph of woman sitting with legs crossed on a couch. She wears a white dress, and a table with lamp is beside her with a geometric painting hanging on the wall behind her.

Claudia Webb Betti, 1959.

Betti grew up in Abilene, TX, and began practicing art at a young age. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Texas State College for Women in 1945, and went on to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. At the end of her Master’s Degree program she won the Bryan Lathrop Foreign Travel Fellowship, allowing her to travel to France and Italy to study painting between 1955 and 1957. While in Italy, she met and married her first husband, Franco Betti.

Betti taught art throughout her career, beginning by teaching adult art classes while studying in Chicago. She returned to teaching at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX in 1963, where she stayed until 1967, when she became a professor at North Texas State University. In 1975, Betti took on the role of Undergraduate Coordinator in the art department, and in 1977 she took on the role of Co-Coordinator for the Core Program. Betti is well known in the art education world for co-authoring one of the top instructional drawing books in the U.S., Drawing: A Contemporary Approach. She co-authored this text with noted North Texas State University Art Professor Teel Sale.

Betti was a prolific artist, and continued to work and show her work throughout her time teaching. She participated in many faculty and group exhibitions, as well as curated solo exhibitions. Her work focused on abstractions, line and color, examples of which can be seen in these black and yellow paintings from a series she created for an NTSU research grant.

small newspaper clipping with a single column of text.

“Painting Exhibit Evolves At NT” clipping from The Denton Record Chronicle, n.d..

color photograph of a rectangular painting with wide black boarders at he top and bottom. the center is yellow with abstract black painting throughout. on a black section in the middle a square of black has been removed to reveal yellow beneath.

Photo of painting from Black and Yellow Series, 1974.

photo of black and yellow painting. there are wide black borders at the top and bottom on the canvas. an amorphous black shape is painted beginning within the top border and extending three tenticles into the bottom border. the background in the center is yellow, with a large yellow square in the center of the black shape.

Photo of painting from Black and Yellow Series, 1974.

Other series of her work include the Duat Series and the Numinous Word Series.

white paper with a rectangle at the center where lines of cursive handwriting are filled in with black and dark blue colors to create a water like effect. two small red oval shapes are in the top right corner of the colored section.

Photo of Journey into the Duat: Cycle 1, n.d.

photograph of painting. the canvas has abstract shapes created by large loops of handwriting around the surface. the handwriting is outlined with white, while the much of the lower and upper empty sections of the painting are filled with black, and the more centered open areas filled with a reddish brown.

Photograph of Numinous Word VI, 1975

See the full contents of the Claudia Webb Betti Collection on The Portal to Texas History.

Posted by & filed under 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's.

UNT Special Collections recently acquired the papers of Paul Kruse, a former professor of
Library Science here when UNT was still called North Texas State University. Kruse was a
professor, a Fulbright Scholar, an actor, a bibliographer, and a librarian. His papers give insight
into his full life including his stint in North Texas and his wider influence in the library world —
and can maybe help us appreciate all the incredible work librarians do a little more.

black and white photo of an older man from waist up standing outside holding books and folders in one hand. He wears a blazer, tie, large glasses, and a black beret.

Paul Kruse, c. 1968.

Kruse was quite accomplished in his career. After a few years as a reference librarian at the
Library of Congress, in 1945 he established the library of the United Nations National
Convention in San Francisco. He then was invited to become a bibliographer of the
Encyclopedia Britannica, and went on to write his doctoral thesis at the University of Chicago
about the history of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In addition to his many teaching positions over
his career, he also served a term as president of the Special Libraries Association, was listed in
Who’s Who in America, and was twice a Fulbright Scholar which took him to the University of
Iran in Tehran and the University of Ceylon in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.

Outside his robust career as a librarian, bibliographer, and professor, Kruse was passionate
about the arts. A supporter of community theater, Kruse spent his free time at NTSU in the
1960s and 70s acting in several Denton Community Theater productions and was profiled in the
local paper for one of his roles.

Kruse was also a collector and lover of books and often wrote to authors he admired.
Sometimes those authors even responded. One of the writers that returned Kruse’s letters was
Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind. Two of her signed responses to Kruse are
included in his papers.

A typed letter addressed to Margaret Mitchell, signed by Paul Kruze.

Letter from Paul Kruse to Margaret Mitchell, March 25, 1937.

Kruse wrote to Mitchell in 1937 just before the film adaptation of Gone with the Wind began
production. He expressed his affection for the book and asked Mitchell to sign his copy (noting
his frustration that he could not obtain a first edition anywhere).

In one of her responses to Kruse, Mitchell gushes over librarians. She says Kruse’s kind words
mean a lot to her coming from someone in his profession and that the librarians in her
hometown of Atlanta were crucially helpful during her research. Mitchell politely refused to sign
Kruse’s copy of Gone with the Wind though. Because the demand for autographs rose in
proportion with the book’s wild popularity, Mitchell vowed not to sign any more books after sales
reached a million copies, not even making an exception for a librarian.

typed letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruze. A minor correction is hand written in the first paragraph.

Letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruse, p.1, July, 20, 1937.

a single typed line and signature ending the letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruze.

Letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruse, p.2, July, 20, 1937.

While Kruse didn’t get an autographed copy of Gone with the Wind, it may be just as valuable to
have received praise for librarians from such an acclaimed and beloved author.


Presently the correspondence between Paul Kruse and Margaret Mitchell, along with select photographs of Kruse, are available in the UNT Digital Library and the Portal to Texas History. The full Paul Kruse Papers will be digitized and available online soon.

Posted by & filed under 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, 2010's.

The mission of UNT’s Multicultural Center is to cultivate a campus environment where people of all identities and experiences can thrive. They foster the success and awareness of historically underrepresented student populations with an emphasis on disability, ethnicity, gender, interfaith, race and sexual orientation. The Center’s programs and activities are developed to increase the awareness, understanding, and intersectionality of the various identities in the UNT community.

uneven grid of partial images, one has a chinese dragon head, another a colorful serape, text Multicultural Center in green, "Your window to the world" in black below

Multicultural Center logo, 2006.

The Center for Ethnic Affairs was established at North Texas State University, in 1973. The idea to establish this department was brought to the Board of Regents for a vote, and the vote was split. With North Texas having the largest concentration of “multi-ethnic” students at any Texas public university at the time, many members of the board saw the creation of this department as essential. Members opposed to creating the department thought that it would only further separate segments of the student body. Because the vote was split, the deciding vote was cast by the Chairman of the Board of Regents, A.M. Willis Jr.

black and white photograph of an African-American women from the waist up, with a sleeveless button-down top

Alma Ayers, 1970.

The first Director of the Center for Ethnic Affairs was Alma Ayers, the Assistant Dean of Students at the time. The foundational objectives she created were:

  • Assist minority students in the development of special programs to help them in the understanding of their cultural backgrounds.
  • Organize a team of professional and students in order that proper research and sources of program funding be established.
  • Act as a clearing house and action center where all organizations, departments or individuals can receive support relevant to their ethnicity.
  • Identity and propose solutions for problems unique to minority populations at North Texas.
  • Concentrate on programs and processes that will place students from minority populations in the mainstream of university affairs.
newspaper article title "Ethnic Groups Unite"

“Ethnic Groups Unite,” The North Texas Daily, Vol. 57, No. 16, Ed. 1 Friday, September 28, 1973, pg 1.

Ayers resigned from her position after a year filled with successes and difficulties. She discussed funding issues, not allowing her to create all of the programming that students desired, and the Mexican-American Student’s Association made public their concerns about the Center allocating more funding to Black Emphasis Week than it did for Mexican-American Emphasis Week.

In 1975, after another short lived Director resigned, North Texas decided to change the department’s name and focus. The new Intercultural Center would focus on minority students as well as international students. Minority students were dissatisfied with their already minimal funding being split with international students, whom they believed deserved their own department as the issues that affect each group are different. This unrest amounted to little, and the department was successfully run by a number of directors under this name from 1975 through 1995.

Directors during this time period began to refocus on retaining students and helping them to succeed. In 1981, the I Care program was created to help black and Hispanic students adjust to college life for the first time, including navigating academic issues and personal skills like budgeting. Other major initiatives during this time involved expanding Black Emphasis and Hispanic Heritage Weeks into month long experiences for students to learn and share their cultures across campus.

newspaper article titled " Program teaches students excellence"

“Program teaches student excellence,” The North Texas Daily, Vol. 68, No. 60, Ed. 1 Wednesday, January 23, 1985, pg. 5.

In 1995, after a series of racially motivated incidents on campus, and little reaction from the North Texas administrations, student leaders from the UNT NAACP formed the Blue Ribbon Committee, and called for the creation of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which was created in 1995. This office was quickly combined with the existing Intercultural Services Office, and renamed Center for Cultural Diversity.

Up until this point, all Directors of the department held other positions on campus, but with the creation of the Center for Cultural Diversity came the understanding that this department should expand and have a full time staff member to direct it.

In 1999, the department would again be renamed to Student Ethnic Enrichment Center, which helped to distinguish it as a student focused department. As the Center for Cultural Diversity and Student Ethnic Enrichment Center, the focus of the department was on helping students create connections through programming such as seminars, and through community service both on and off campus.

In 2002, the department was again renamed Multicultural Center. By this point the department was working with over 30 student organizations each year to create programming for all of the various minority populations on campus, as well as working with other departments under the Department of Equity and Diversity Division umbrella.

From the Multicultural Center’s earliest iteration they have worked to create a sense of community for students where they could thrive. The Center evolved over the years to become an indispensable partner for student organizations looking to share their culture and create greater connections on campus.

Digitized materials from the UNT Multicultural Center can be found on the Portal to Texas History. A full description of materials in this collection can be found on the Multicultural Center Records Finding Aid. An a more in depth look at the history of the Multicultural Center can be found through the UNT Multicultural Center Through the Years digital exhibit.