Posted by & filed under 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's.

The Eagle Park and recreation grounds area on the North Texas campus occupied land on what was formerly Scoular Hall (originally the Journalism Building), Stovall Hall, the Willis Library, and a number of other structures. The recreation area extended beyond what was replaced with the Laboratory School (now known as the Music Annex) to the west and stretched out to the east even before the current Administration Building was constructed.

Eagle Park was a recreation area where croquet, volleyball, tennis, horseshoe and other activities could be enjoyed. It included a football field, a practice field for soccer and hockey, tennis courts, a men’s and women’s gymnasium, basketball courts, volleyball courts, an outdoor stadium, horseshoe courts, a shaded playground with trees, and, to the east, an archery area. It also included buildings such as the Men’s Gymnasium and the Women’s Gymnasium. A bowling alley was located behind the swimming pool to the west.

Originally, benches were part of the area where students could gather around the bandstand and watch theatrical performances, listen to music or, with the addition of a projection booth, watch films. The bandstand was an open air theater designed by architect O’Neil Ford. The stage of the bandstand was active throughout the 1920s and up until the late 1940s, when the Journalism Building took its place.

A swimming pool was part of the area behind the benches of the open air theater. When classes were not in session, the pool was open to the public, as were many of the areas on the grounds. The outdoor swimming pool was one of the last remaining structures of the recreation area, lasting even up through the 1980s and the early years of the Willis Library.

For many years, up until 1969, the current location of the Willis Library was occupied by the Willis Library. In photographs dating back to this year, early construction of the A.M. Willis, Jr. Library is visible in aerial views. Prior to this, this patch of land was the largest of the remaining pieces of Eagle Park.

Gradually, through time, every piece of the Eagle Park area has disappeared. Aerial photographs illustrate a progression of the land’s development up to the present day. None of the land or structures that were once an integral part of the North Texas community do not exist anymore except in memory. If it were not for photographs and aerials, clippings, yearbooks, old maps and documents, no one would even realize the space now occupied by the Administration Building, the Willis Library, Music buildings, University Union, and the recently demolished Scoular Hall and Stovall Hall had such a rich history of activity and recreation throughout the 1920s and up through the 1960s.

— by S. Ivie, Associate Processing Archivist

Posted by & filed under 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, 2010's.

Fry Street, a home away from home for many North Texas alumni, has always been a place for students to pass time, share meals, or browse area shops for books, supplies, and gifts. Of all the businesses located in this lively collegiate hub, none is as quintessential as Voertman’s Book store. The Voertman family opened the store across the street from the North Texas Teacher’s Normal College in 1925. The original building, located on Hickory and Fry streets, was 2,300 square feet. Store patrons can still see the first store’s foundations; an old brick structure, remnants of a second story, juts out from the wall.

Roy Frederick Voertman began the store after his days as a traveling salesman for Blackwell-Wielandy, a general wholesale merchandise supplier from St. Louis, Missouri. After undergoing a major health setback, Voertman decided to set up shop in the thriving town of Denton. According to Roy’s son, Paul Voertman, the family’s store was a funny little sort of drugstore, soda fountain included, which became a college hangout for North Texas students. The store began to sell school supplies, from suppliers such as Blackwell-Wielandy, in addition to being a bustling gathering place for students.

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

Don and Dolores Vann began collecting Victorian books during the summer of 1962, when they acquired a first edition of Dickens Bleak House. While working on his Ph.D. from Texas Tech, Vann spent summers working with his father as a steamfitter. He was working with his father’s crew in Dayton, Ohio in 1962 and was sporting a goatee, which his mother detested. Vann found the two-volume set of Bleak House in a used book shop; however, at $40 it was beyond his means at the time. This lovely set was given to him as a bribe by his mother in exchange for shaving off his goatee.

Dr. and Mrs. Vann spent the summer of 1965 in London, conducting research in the British Library and buying first editions of Victorian works by such renowned authors as Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. During their subsequent trips to London, the Vanns came to know many of the city’s booksellers and were offered first editions kept hidden from all but their most favorite customers. London was heaven for a bibliophile in the 1960s; the Vanns could buy first edition Dickens books for £1 or first edition Thackeray volumes for just 10 shillings.

Dr. J. Don Vann is a retired University of North Texas Regent’s Professor and Professor Emeritus in English. He received his B.A. and M.A. from TCU and his Ph.D. from Texas Tech before joining the faculty of UNT in 1964. He taught courses in Victorian literature, focusing particularly on Dickens, Tennyson, and Browning. His doctoral dissertation on the critical reception of David Copperfield in London newspapers led him to be a founding member of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals in which he held various offices. He is also a member of and regularly attends the annual meeting of the London Pickwick Club – an organization founded by Cedric Dickens, a great-grandson of the novelist – where he plays an obscure character, a medical student named Jack Hopkins. Dr. Vann is the author or editor of eight books and dozens of articles and is currently working on a ninth book, Tennyson’s Theory of Poetry.

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Posted by & filed under 1970's.

When Hayden Fry arrived at North Texas State University in December 1972, the Eagles were on a six season losing streak. In Coach Fry’s six years as head football coach (five of which he also served as Athletics Director) he would lead the Mean Green to a record of 40-23, including upset wins against the University of Houston and the University of Tennessee in 1974.

A native of Eastland, TX and a descendant of one of Sam Houston’s allies at the Battle of San Jacinto, Hayden Fry’s career in football began with playing quarterback at Odessa High School in the 1940s. He would later attend Baylor University, where he played quarterback for the Bears while earning a degree in psychology. After a stint in the Marine Corps from 1952-1955, Fry was hired for the head coaching position at Southern Methodist University in 1964, where he recruited, among others, Jerry LeVias, the first African American scholarship athlete and the second African American football player in the Southwest Conference. Despite leading SMU to three winning seasons from 1964-1968, Fry’s Mustangs went 12-20 from 1969-1971. After a 7-4 season in 1972, SMU fired Coach Fry. Fry would later state his belief that his firing had less to do with a losing streak and was instead motivated by his opposition to a plan developed by some athletics boosters to create a slush fund to pay SMU’s athletes. After Fry’s departure, SMU was sanctioned five times, including receiving the NCAA’s death penalty in 1987, for multiple violations, including this slush fund plan.

In his first year as head coach at NTSU, Fry led the Eagles to a 7-4 season. As Athletic Director, Fry shared NTSU President C.C. Nolen’s ambitions for increasing the university’s prestige. Some of these efforts were drastic. During the Fry’s tenure as Athletic Director, NTSU used a yellow-green in place of its traditional, darker green. Fry also lobbied, unsuccessfully, for the university to change its name from North Texas State University to Texas State University, believing that this would put them on the same prestige level as other land-grant universities. He also emphasized the nickname “Mean Green” over the traditional Eagle mascot. Fry scheduled the Eagles to compete against big name opponents such as Tennessee, Mississippi State, Auburn, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Florida State, and Texas. In 1974, at both his and Nolen’s urging, NTSU left the Missouri Valley Conference to compete as an independent school, hoping to attract an invitation from the Southwest Conference. During Coach Fry’s tenure, the Mean Green would enjoy a 10-1 season in 1977 and a 9-2 season in 1978. Coaching films from the Fry era are available in the Portal to Texas History.

However, despite their success on the field, the Southwest Conference was reluctant to extend NTSU an invitation, and the university’s independent status meant that it would receive no bowl game invitations. Coach Fry became increasingly frustrated with the SWC’s refusal to allow NTSU a hearing. He became an outspoken critic of the conference, which offended officials from the conference school to the point that some were of the opinion that NTSU would never be allowed to join the conference while Fry was still there.

After six years of on-field success and off-field frustration, Coach Fry accepted the head coaching position at the University of Iowa in 1978. The players, the Athletic Council, and President Nolen all endorsed Defensive Coordinator Bill Brashier to replace Fry, but the Board of Regents hesitated, stating their desire to fill the vacant Athletic Director position before hiring a new head coach. When Brashier heard this, he issued the following statement: “If the Board of Regents cannot concur with the unanimous endorsement of the Athletic Council, the president, and the vice president, then I am no longer a candidate for the position of head football coach at North Texas State University.” He then left to join Fry in Iowa as defensive coordinator. The Board of Regents was roundly criticized for their treatment of Brashier.

Fry left behind him a legacy of victory, a huge deficit in the athletics budget, and an athletics program that was not Title IX compliant due to his focus on growing football in lieu of expanding women’s athletics. In 1979, the university hired Jerry Moore, former offensive coordinator at the University of Nebraska, for the head coaching position. He would serve for only two years with an 11-11 record. Fry went on to a 143-89 career at Iowa, including three Big 10 conference titles and six bowl victories. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

— by Robert Lay, Special Collections Librarian

Posted by & filed under 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, 2010's.

In addition to its strengths in jazz and western art (i.e. classical) music, UNT’s College of Music also boasts one of the country’s largest early music programs. For the uninitiated, early music in this context refers to the study and practice of historical performance techniques, using primary (treatises, contemporary accounts, original manuscripts and editions) and secondary (scholarly studies and analyses) resources. The discipline grew out of post-World War II musicology and its positivistic emphasis on discovering “new” composers and works from the Baroque era (1600-1750) and earlier, with an initial interest in authenticity that was later deconstructed in the 1980s to become simply another way of performing classical music, normally using original or facsimile instruments: gut strings, early bows, harpsichords instead of pianos, etc. A common name for this type of ensemble is Collegium Musicum, a musical society that appeared in German areas during the Reformation.

One of the earliest instances of a Collegium at North Texas appears to be this concert from July 1953 presenting “a program of rarely-heard music” (Renaissance- and Baroque-era French and German works) and including an appearance from stalwart trumpet professor John Haynie, who joined the faculty in 1950 and would continue for forty years (Haynie died in 2014). The cover for the book of concert programs from 1952-1953 also appears to be an ensemble of students in period costume near a harpsichord, further confirming the rising interest in historical matters at the (then) School of Music.

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Posted by & filed under 2010's.

In August 2014, the University of North Texas at Dallas welcomed the inaugural class of its new law school. Out of 600 applicants, 152 students—88 full-time students and 64 part-time students began a new law curriculum focused on practical application of the law over theoretical exercises.

At a time when law school applications were declining nationwide, and with nine other law schools already established in the state of Texas, UNT envisioned a program focused on making the law profession accessible to previously underrepresented groups and emphasizing comprehensive testing and student-teacher interactions over a traditional end-of-term exam. [1] Admissions for the inaugural class focused less on grades and LSAT scores and more on life experiences and recommendations. [2]

That inaugural class of the UNT Dallas College of Law was the culmination of more than ten years of planning and an investment of $5 million from the Texas legislature in 2011. The school’s first and current dean is Judge Royal Furgeson, a former federal judge for the Western District, and later the Northern District, of Texas. Judge Furgeson left the bench in 2013 to oversee the founding of a law school with a different vision: a vision of “lawyers as public servants.”[3]

— by Robert Lay, Special Collections Librarian

[1] Samantha McDonald, “Turning a Blind Eye to Law School Recession,” NT Daily, 4 September 2014, p. 4.

[2] “New Law School Only Accepts Students Who Want to Be Lawyers for ‘Right’ Reasons.” Huffington Post, last modified 18 April 2014, accessed 31 August 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/18/new-law-school-right-reasons_n_5170124.html

[3] Ibid.

Royal Furgeson, advocate in chief, UNT Dallas College of Law (Photo credit: NT Daily)

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

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was founded in 1966. The school’s beginnings were based on a project that UNT President Calvin Cleve “C.C.” Nolen had originally started when he was involved with Texas Christian University as vice chancellor. Twenty students started classes in Fort Worth Osteopathic Hospital. Its beginnings were small, with administrators occupying a neighboring house with four rooms and a gross anatomy lab set up in a garage apartment. The facilities were growing, though, along with the number of students, and a local bowling alley was eventually converted for use by the school.

In 1971, during a Coordinating Board meeting and visit to the TCOM campus by allopathic and osteopathic professionals, members of the Texas State Legislature, as well as the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, Dr. G.V. Brindley proposed the idea of TCOM partnering with another academic institution. TCOM’s Board of Directors chairman, Dr. George Luibel agreed, and so it was that Dr. J.K.G. (Joseph Kean Gwynn) Silvey established contact with TCOM at the Annual Convention of the American Osteopathic Association in November of 1971. In December of that same year, Luibel, Nolen, Dr. Henry Hardt (dean of TCOM), and Dr. Silvey met in Fort Worth to discuss the possibility of North Texas State University offering instructional services to TCOM.

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

Merrill Ellis’ story at North Texas echoes many recurring themes in the 125-year history of the university: humble beginnings, ingenuity, and innovation. The Electronic Music Center (EMC) he founded in a house at 1721 Mulberry Street in 1963 (near Avenue D) laid the foundation for what is now the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) in the UNT College of Music’s Division of Composition Studies. The Merrill Ellis Music Collection (1960-1981) is held by UNT Music Special Collections and is available for use by special arrangement.

Born 99 years ago in Cleburne, TX, Ellis studied clarinet as a child, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1939, and a Master of Music in 1941. He also studied composition privately with Roy Harris, Spencer Norton, Charles Garland, and Darius Milhaud. He joined the faculty of what was then North Texas State University in 1962, after teaching band, orchestra, and choir in high schools in Texas and Missouri, and a variety of subjects including music education and music theory at several colleges in Missouri. At North Texas, Ellis taught music theory and composition in addition to directing the Electronic Music Center. During the 1960s, Ellis persuaded Robert Moog to build a synthesizer — the second “Moog” ever made — for North Texas.

The Electronic Music Center grew in stature under Ellis; a new Intermedia Theater was established in 1979, and now bears his name. Ellis, who died in 1981, was succeeded as director by Larry Austin and Phil Winsor, who continued to raise the profile of the EMC, particularly in the 1981 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), which hosted 400 scientists and composers of computer music at North Texas, including guest composers John Cage and Lejaren Hiller.

The EMC was renamed the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia in 1983, reflecting the expanded scope of activities which was a legacy of Ellis’ leadership. Martin Mailman, a fellow composer and longtime member of the College of Music faculty said in 1986: “Merrill was a valued colleague and friend who was a true pioneer in electronic and multimedia music. His works express, far more eloquently than any words of mine could, his unique contribution to the music of our time. Indeed, his creative vision was a cornerstone in the establishment of CEMI. It has been a privilege to have an opportunity to celebrate his memory in this environment that he inspired with his work and spirit.”

— by Maristella Feustle, Music Special Collections Librarian

View a 2014 video celebrating the 50th anniversary of CEMI and Ellis’ legacy:

Listen to a 1969 recording of Ellis’ “Kaleidoscope”:

Watch a 2013 CEMI performance of Ellis’ 1972 piece “Mutations”:

 

References:

41st International Computer Music Conference 2015, “Home” (https://icmc2015.unt.edu/), accessed December 7, 2015.

Elsa Gonzalez, “Ellis, Merrill” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fel37), accessed December 7, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on October 26, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

UNT College of Music, Division of Composition Studies, “The History of CEMI” (https://cemi.music.unt.edu/lore/historical-narrative), accessed December 7, 2015.

UNT Music Library, “Merrill Ellis” (http://www.library.unt.edu/collections/music/merrill-ellis), accessed December 7, 2015.

Posted by & filed under 1970's.

In 1972 the regents and President of North Texas State University dedicated the new library on campus. When construction for the new library began in July 1969 began on the site of the university’s original football field, the building was meant to be the latest in modern, modular design—a colorful, bright and open building of the future designed to be both a meeting place and a haven for quiet study. After numerous delays, including a legal battle over carpet, the building was occupied in 1971.

For its first years the building was simply known as “The Library.” In 1978 it was renamed the A. M, Willis, Jr. Library in honor of the long time university regent. The original plans by architects Caudill, Rowlett, and Scott called for a building to be built in three phases, all within the decade. The design consisted of a four story central building, with a wing on each side, but the two wings were never built because of budget concerns. The building cost, including furnishings and landscaping, was $21.09 per square foot for a total cost of just over $3.6 million. This was paid for with a federal grant and the sale of bonds.

The interior design team of Del and Carol Hermanowski chose a different bold, bright color for each floor so people would know which floor they were on by simply looking at the colored shelving, upholstered furniture, and bright graphics painted on the walls. The colors couldn’t have been much brighter than the ultra-shamrock, ultra-fuchsia, marigold, primary red, and primary blue. The library very quickly began outgrowing the central building. It was designed to seat 1,850 people and shelve 762,450 books. Much of the public seating very quickly was sacrificed to provide more bookshelves and staff offices for new departments, such as the University Archives, opened in 1977.

Visitors to the library were greeted by an enormous kinetic sculpture suspended above the stairwell. Unfortunately, this had to be removed several years later as university engineers said it was too heavy and in danger of falling. The library had an extensive card catalog that took up a large section of the first floor which was the only way to locate materials. Books were arranged into subject areas, rather than strictly by call number. This practice was later abandoned in favor of a call number arrangement. In December of 1973 the first computers were installed for staff use, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the card catalog was installed on computers for public use.

— by Lisa Brown, Discovery Park Library Circulation Manager

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

In 1967, the University of North Texas’s One O’Clock Lab Band, was invited to the White House to play for Bhumibol Adulyadej. Adulyadej is also known as King Rama IX, the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. He is the longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thailand’s history, having served since 1946. He is also an accomplished jazz musician and received an honorary music degree from UNT in 2003. Adulyadej, an accomplished player of saxophone, piano, clarinet and guitar, has performed with such legendary musicians as Jack Teagarden, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, and Stan Getz. Trombonist and UNT alumnus Carl Murr was in involved with creating an arrangement for two pieces written by Adulyadej. Murr orchestrated the pieces for the One O’Clock Lab Band, who performed a private concert for Bhumibol Adulyadej when the University of North Texas presented him with a doctor of music composition and performance honoris causa on March 17, 2003.

In the spring of 1995 Charn Uswachoke from Bangkok, Thailand donated $1 million to UNT. Uswachoke is an alumnus who received his master’s degree in Business administration from UNT in 1973. His donation was the largest cash gift given to the university at the time. Charn Uswachoke was the chief executive officer of Alphatee Electronics Public Co. Ltd, Thailand’s largest assembler of integrated circuits. Former UNT Chancellor and President Alfred F. Hurley and his wife traveled to Bangkok to accept the gift from Uswachoke in person. The $1 million donation provided a boost to UNT International’s programs.

In winter 1995, Charn Uswachoke surpassed his previous donation by donating $1.2 million to UNT. The donation benefited three UNT departments: the College of Music received $1 million, UNT International received $100,000, and the College of Business Administration received $100,000.

The third time was a charm for Usawachoke. In the summer of 2011, the alumnus, announced to UNT supporters via video conference from Bangkok about his plans to donate $22 million. This donation was to be used to aid UNT in becoming a top-tier research school. Uswachoke’s donation is the largest in UNT history.

Former UNT President V. Lane Rawlins met Uswachoke in Thailand and began discussing some areas he might want to support. Uswachoke expressed interest in music, engineering and business. President Rawlins returned with proposals from each college. Instead of picking from the three proposals, Uswachoke chose them all. The College of Engineering received $6.5 million, the College of Music received $10 million, and the College of Business received $5.5 million.

Bhumibol Adulyadej and Charn Uswachoke have made a huge impact in the Thailand and UNT communities. Like Uswachoke, many other Thai students have crossed an ocean to attend UNT. So many, in fact, that in 2013 UNT opened an office in Bangkok, Thailand to serve potential international students throughout Southeast Asia and more than 1,000 UNT alumni living in Thailand. The colleges at UNT each select an alumni ambassador who graduated from that college and now lives in Thailand, to reach out to prospective Thai students.

— by Amanda Montgomery, Assistant Processing Archivist

Knopp, Joshua. October 4, 2013. “University Opens Bangkok Office.” NT Daily. Retrieved from http://ntdaily.com/university-opens-bangkok-office/ .Accessed November 8, 2015.

UNT News. March 25, 2004 “King of Thailand treated to jazz Texas style”. Retrieved from http://news.unt.edu/news-releases/king-thailand-treated-jazz-texas-style. Accessed November 17, 2015.

University of North Texas. The North Texan. Volume 45, Number 1, March 1995. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc119092/. Accessed November 8, 2015.

University of North Texas. The North Texan. Volume 45, Number 4, Winter 1995. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc119099/. Accessed November 8, 2015.

University of North Texas. UNT Inhouse. September 19, 2013.“UNT to boost Thailand, ASEAN recruiting with new office in Bangkok.” Retrieved from https://news.unt.edu/news-releases/unt-boost-thailand-asean-recruiting-new-office-bangkok. Accessed November 8, 2015.

Zabel, Matthew. August 16, 2011 “Thai Man Sets UNT Donation.” Denton Record Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/education/higher-education-headlines/20110816-thai-man-sets-unt-donation-record.ece. Accessed November 8, 2015.

Zabel, Matthew. August 17,2011. “Thai businessman donates $22 million to University of North Texas.” Denton Record Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20110817-thai-businessman-donates-22-million-to-university-of-north-texas.ece. Accessed November 8, 2015.