Dr. Vela’s contributions to UNT
Dr. Gerard Roland Vela Múzquiz, UNT Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and prominent community leader, was one of the first Latino faculty members at UNT (North Texas State University at the time he was hired), and the first Latino to be granted tenure; he arrived at UNT at a time when our University had no adequate science laboratories in which to conduct serious research, no funding, and no investment in building science programs of regional or national significance. It was only thanks to Dr. Vela’s passion for science, his love of teaching, his inexhaustible energy, and single-minded determination that he succeeded in laying the foundations of the NT microbiology program.
A nationally and internationally recognized scientist, Dr. Vela tirelessly mentored his students, and over the period of his career at UNT supervised 45 master and 19 doctoral theses and dissertations. Himself a sought-after visiting professor at American and foreign universities, a member of prestigious professional organizations and frequent participant at national and international conferences, he introduced his students to regional and national science organizations, and encouraged them to attend professional conferences. Dr. Vela’s remarkable achievements as a UNT administrator are truly a testament to his never flagging preoccupation with the welfare of NT students. Concerned as he was by the small representation of minorities in the student body at UNT, Dr. Vela also led initiatives to improve minority students’ academic performance at the elementary and high school levels.
Once upon a time women wore dresses and men wore pants. Before the late 1960s women could wear pants to work in their garden, around the house, or at the beach, but pants were still considered unprofessional for work in an office or school. Previous standards had been relaxed because of the obvious functionality of men’s clothing for vigorous activity, but women’s clothing was primarily ornamental. That all began to change during the upheaval of the 1960s when women wearing slacks in public became more acceptable. Fashionable women of the early 1970s wore miniskirts that were hard to bend over or move in, and longer skirts could look dowdy or old fashioned. Women found the idea of wearing pantsuits much more practical and comfortable. There was just one problem: they were not considered professional attire for women employees at North Texas State University until 1971.
Hello out there in radio land! In the spotlight today, it’s the smooth sounds of KNTU, FM 88.1. On the agenda, a bit of history for you.
Did you know our university station was started many moons ago on Halloween of ’69? With a FCC license in hand and broadcasting at 440 watts, the dream of a real radio station was realized on that day. The first program aired was Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds. The voice of the North Texas Eagles during basketball and football seasons, Bill Mercer, became the first station manager.
After coming to North Texas to work on his master’s degree, Dr. Reg Holland, professor emeritus of Speech, Communication and Drama, approached Mercer in hopes of persuading him into teaching communication classes. These communication classes would become the foundation for a campus radio station.
In the first twenty-two years of collegiate presence, North Texas State Normal College operated without a mascot; the students were coined the “Normalites.” During this time, the college was preparing to transition its name to North Texas State Teacher’s College. With the name change groundwork in process, the college’s administration also recognized an imperative need for a mascot which was voiced by the student body via a circulated petition in the fall of 1921.
A mascot was selected to promote a unified identity amongst the college’s students and athletes. Most of the athletic clubs on campus were named the “Normal Boys” or the “Normal Girls,” except for a few rebellious women’s basketball clubs who named themselves. The “Dandy Doers,” “Haughty Hits,” “Limber Lassies,” “Militants,” and the “Suffragettes” dribbled their way to glory (or, hopefully not, to doom) on old dirt courts with their self-appointed monikers.
The mascot election was held in January 1922. It was a battle of the ages between four animals the students believed encompassed the college’s character: lions, hawks, eagles, and dragons. What a difficult decision for the Normal College students! And in February of 1922, the eagle mascot won the election with 17 more votes than the runner-up, the dragons.
In 1990 the University of North Texas was celebrating its 100th anniversary. In addition to exhibits, parades, and parties it was decided that the Industrial Technology Department (now the College of Engineering) would participate in the design and construction of a solar car. The car, named Centennial, took part is an eleven day race of solar cars sponsored by General Motors. The UNT team had the fewest team members, the least expensive car ($70,000), and went up against 32 other teams. For comparison, the University of Michigan team had an $800,000 car. Faculty advisor John Dobson and team leader Lee Palmer supervised the two years of design and building that it took to create UNT’s solar car. Other team members were Greg Mitchel and Jeff Curtis.
Did you know that the University of North Texas was the backdrop for the greatest football comedy of all time? A film so great it includes this scene of Jason Bateman and Sinbad doing a touchdown boogie?
Curious? Read on!
On May 15, 1988, the University of North Texas celebrated its transition from North Texas State University to its current name. This would mark the seventh title for the institution since it began 125 years ago as the Texas Normal College and Teacher’s Training Institute. The event was celebrated with a small parade, releasing green balloons advertising the name change, the burial of a time capsule, and the unveiling of both a new university seal and a new sign bearing the name of the University of North Texas.
In November 1901 the first North Texas student publication, the North Texas State Normal Journal, was published. From 1901 – 1905, the Normal Journal served as North Texas State Normal College’s literary journal and yearbook, as well as the student newspaper. Short stories, poems, and literary criticism were published on a monthly basis alongside coverage of national and international news and updates on campus life. The final issue of the year, in May, featured class pictures and other features commonly associated with a college yearbook. In 1906 students voted to nix the May issue of the Normal Journal and instead publish all annual retrospective content in the University’s first yearbook, The Cottontail. Read more
From the early 1980s to 2007, the Delta Lodge, who call themselves “the party professionals,” organized the Fry Street fair. This event was an annual gathering for students and the community to share laughs, enjoy food and drinks, and dance to the melodies of local and regional bands. The fair was not only a happening which promoted good times for the attendees, it also showcased the sociocultural significance of the Fry Street area to the University of North Texas. This area has always been a home away from home for students.
Prolific writer and North Texas alum Larry McMurty was born on this day in 1936 in Archer City, Texas.
McMurtry contributed works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction to the campus literary magazine, Avesta, during his tenure at North Texas. In May 1957, during his junior year, he won $25 in an Avesta “best-of” contest for his non-fiction essay about jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke. Reflecting on his years at North Texas in 1978, McMurty told The North Texan “I was quite happy here […] I found it a very stimulating school.”
McMurtry graduated from North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1958. After leaving North Texas, he continued his education at Rice University, earning a Master’s in English from Rice in 1960. McMurtry studied at Stanford University as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in 1960.