Hispanic students are an important part of campus life, but were not visible as a distinctive group until April of 1970 when they formed the first Hispanic group on the North Texas State University campus. “Los Chicanos,” was formed to “meet the social, cultural, and educational needs of Mexican-American students.” (1970 Yucca) In 1974 NTSU worked to develop new means to solve the problems of minorities on campus and understand differences among groups through the new Center for Ethnic Affairs. That year 300 of NTSU’s students were Hispanic, and they were referred to as the “forgotten minority” on campus in that year’s Yucca. Los Chicanos, then known as MASA, made it a priority to “return yearly to many poor Texas Mexican American neighborhoods, or barrios…to provide and establish with younger students a positive identification factor with life in a white university.” (1974 Yucca) This remained the only Hispanic group on campus for close to 20 years going through many name changes, including La Causa, the Mexican American Student Association (MASA), the Mexican American Student Organization (MASO), Hispanic Students for Higher Education (HSHE), and the Association of Latino American Students (ALAS).
Throughout the years, Hispanic students made regular appearances in the Yucca, the North Texas yearbook. One of the earliest students known to be Hispanic, hailing from Puerto Rico, was Maria Isabel Rodriguez Quetglas. She was popularly known as Betty Rodriguez while at North Texas State Teacher’s College, and graduated with a BA in Spanish in 1943. She was a member of the Gammadions, and was the Junior and Senior Miss Ardens. As president of the Pan-American forum she worked to promote education about Latin America and the Spanish language and served as hostess at the Spanish table in Marquis Hall Dining Room to help fellow students practice their Spanish. In 1942 she was appointed second lieutenant of Company B in the newly formed North Texas State Defense Training Battalion of the Women’s Defense Corps. This defense corps was the only known girls’ training unit in the country and made up entirely of students with the goal of training girls to be leaders in defense organizations around the state. Read more
As part of its Centennial Decade agenda, the University of North Texas committed to, among many other goals, achieving a designation as “an emerging national research university,” and enhancing “computer resources consistent with status as a research university.” It was this goal of achieving national recognition for cutting edge technology and research contribution that Vice Provost for Research Rollie Schafer referenced in a 1999 white paper when he recommended that the University of North Texas become a member institution of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development, also known as the Internet2 Consortium.
The University of North Texas had been an early participant in the National Science Foundation’s NSFnet, a computer network that connected several research institutions and that would eventually become part of the backbone of the internet that we know today. However the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1991 and the privatization of the internet in 1995 led to an unprecedented increase in users and a transition from text-based data traffic to bandwidth-intensive multimedia. This network congestion had a decidedly negative impact for universities using the internet for research. Read more
The Rock Bottom Lounge opened in the North Texas State University Union Building in 1976 as a restaurant and nightclub for university students. Featuring a nightly happy hour which included beer, wine and a full dinner menu, students gathered nightly to enjoy live music from local acts, including UNT music students in the jazz lab bands.
The beloved campus club was almost closed after underage students were caught drinking. In 1984 students under age 19 were not allowed in the nightclub after 8 pm. previously underage students had been admitted if they agreed not to drink. However, later in the evenings the students were usually spotted drinking beer or wine. On a typical night between 100 and 300 students came to the Rock Bottom Lounge.
Music in the Lounge was a reflection of the time and tastes of the students. When the club opened it featured a regular “Disco Night.” By the mid-1980’s the nightclub featured new wave music, DJ nights and a “Club RBL” night modeled after new-music clubs in Dallas like the Club Clearview and Club Da-Da. Read more
The Denton Gay Alliance (DGA) was established in 1975 under the leadership of North Texas State University (NTSU) student Ruben Salinas. On March 12, 1976 Salinas asked President C. C. Nolan’s Cabinet to formally recognize DGA as a campus organization. The Cabinet denied the request on March 23 because DGA was partially composed of non-student members, a barrier to official recognition. The DGA operated as a campus social chapter for a few more years but fizzled out after Salinas graduated and left Denton.
In October 1976 an NTSU student calling himself “MWF” wrote a series of letters about his life as an out gay man to North Texas Daily editor Terry Pair. MWF’s letters captured a young man struggling with his sexuality and public identity. The anonymous author admitted he’d contemplating suicide and closed one letter with “Don’t tell me about the well-adjusted gay.” Read more
1953 was a big year for paleontological finds near Denton. Excavation related to the construction of the Garza-Little Elm dam (Lewisville Lake) revealed many significant ancient remains. A Denton County Archaeology Society formed after the discovery of a mastodon tooth cap near Lake Dallas. Society members joined together to locate and save artifacts from inundation when the Garza-Little Elm dam opened in October 1953.
In early 1953, Ernest M. Calvert, Jr. discovered a mammoth’s bones protruding from a seven foot arroyo on his father’s farm, located five miles south of Denton. Calvert, Jr. contacted North Texas State College (NTSC)* about the find and permission was granted for NTSC students and faculty to spend Saturdays excavating the partial mammoth skeleton. NTSC professors Carl B. Compton (Art) and Dr. Elgin Williams (Sociology) and a total of fifty students excavated the mammoth using trowels and whisk brooms from February to April 1953. Members of the public were welcome to visit the dig site from 2:00 – 5:00 PM each Saturday.
Beulah Harriss, moved from Nebraska to Texas to join the faculty of the North Texas State Normal College (now the University of North Texas) in 1914. She was the first woman hired as a member of the athletic faculty. Ms. Harriss supervised the women’s athletic program, including coaching women’s basketball. The women’s team played three undefeated seasons between 1918 and 1920, to be recognized as the champions of the State of Texas. Beulah Harriss was active in the community as well, organizing the Denton Girl Scouts in 1919. Miss Harriss founded the Green Jackets Club in 1926 as a service and spirit organization at North Texas. Miss Harriss served as faculty advisor for this organization for four decades. She retired in 1960 and died in 1977 at the age of 88.
Additionally, Miss Harriss was one of 13 professors from UNT who started the Denton County Teachers Federal Credit Union (DATCU) in 1936. In 1976, the credit union held the first Miss Beulah Harriss Day, in honor of the organization’s 40th anniversary. Read more
It was not the first time that politicians in Austin were considering the merger of North Texas State University (now UNT) and TWU. On several occasions before, the existence of two comprehensive state universities in one small north Texas city had become a subject of heated debate at the State Capitol. In times of economic downturns, the proponents of the measure would voice their strong reservations to funding the two institutions which were perceived as strikingly similar in their role and mission. However, it was not until 1986 that NT and TWU came very close to becoming one university.
This time, in a climate of austere state economic conditions, the proposed merger of the two institutions was but a part of a much larger project to overhaul the entire system of higher education in Texas, which the legislators considered haphazard, costly, inefficient, and lacking in adequate academic standards. In 1985, Texas Legislature created Select Committee on Higher Education and charged it with the task of reforming the system. Several organizational proposals were submitted to the Committee, some based on geography, and some on mission; some of them included mergers. Among the seriously considered proposals was one by Larry Temple, the Committee Chairman, who put forward a plan to create a five-tier system of colleges and universities, each group with a distinct academic mission and with only one governing board; importantly, several small colleges and universities were to be merged with bigger ones, and TWU and NTSU were among them. Read more
A group of women in Denton started Old Maid’s Day in 1950 to get “recognition, not menfolks.” It all began when Miss Dorothy Babb, a Latin and English teacher at North Texas State College (NTSC, now the University of North Texas) was tired of buying gifts for weddings, Mother’s Day, and baby showers. She complained to Mrs. Dude Neville McCloud, the NTSC news service director that it was unfair that she only got gifts at Christmas and had spent over $1500.00 buying gifts for others. On a lark Mrs. McCloud wrote a feature for the Associated Press which was picked up all over the United States and eventually overseas asking for recognition and gifts for women who either couldn’t or refused to get married.
Denton Mayor Mark Hannah designated Tuesday, August 15th, 1950 a day to honor unmarried women. People suggested more flattering names such as glamor girls, unclaimed blessings, unclaimed jewels, career girls, unmarried ladies or bachelor girls, but Miss Babb said that she just preferred being called an old maid. “Anybody who didn’t like the name [old maid] could just go and get married.”
The first year’s celebration included a tea at the Denton Country Club, and free soft drinks, popcorn and candy, as well as admission to a show featuring ‘Fessor Floyd Graham and his orchestra, and films at the Campus Theater, including The Three Stooges in “The Brideless Groom.” In addition, other gifts were provided for distribution to any unmarried woman who would admit to being an old maid. Read more
When Annie Webb Blanton, an early twentieth-century Texas feminist and educational reformer, moved to Denton in 1901 to join the faculty of North Texas State Normal College (a predecessor to the University of North Texas), the town had 4,000 residents. Over the next seventeen years Blanton witnessed Denton’s population double in response to the opportunities afforded by North Texas State Normal College and the Girls Industrial College (now Texas Woman’s University), the establishment of new businesses, and the introduction of a railroad connection to Dallas and Forth Worth.
Before accepting a teaching position at North Texas, Blanton spent seven years earning a Bachelor of Literature from the University of Texas while teaching full-time at an Austin elementary school. She graduated from UT in 1899 at the age of 29.
North Texas hired Blanton to teach English grammar and composition at the rank of Associate Professor. She taught five courses a semester and met with each course five times a week. This was the standard teaching load at North Texas at the time. Blanton also coached the North Texas debate team and helped establish both the North Texas State Normal Journal and the women’s Current Literature Club on campus. The 1908 North Texas yearbook, The Yucca, was dedicated to her “justice, impartiality, and interest in the students.” Read more
Alvin Clark Owsley (1856-1938) was born in Missouri, received most of his schooling in California, moved back to Missouri to study law, and moved to Denton, Texas in 1873 to be a public school teacher. A year later he was the examiner of teachers for Denton County, remaining in that position until 1884. Owsley continued with his career in law. He received his Texas law license in 1875. By 1882 he was licensed to practice in the circuit and district courts for the Northern District of Texas. He received a doctor of laws degree from Nashville College in 1903.
C. Owsley was a prominent member of the Denton community. He was elected to serve three terms in the Texas legislature, starting in 1888. He also served a term as a district judge in the sixteenth judicial district of Texas (1926-1928). In 1934 he was appointed special chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Owsley was also the first president of the Denton Chamber of Commerce. Read more