Two weeks after the Woodstock Music Festival in New York, another history making concert, the Texas International Pop Festival, took place in Lewisville, Texas. Over Labor Day Weekend in 1969, over 100,000 people converged on a site located a short distance from Denton at IH-35 and Round Grove Road near Lake Lewisville to hear some of top performing artists of the day, including Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and B.B. King.
Students at North Texas State University were among the attendees who were described in newspaper accounts as “hippies,” “flower children” and “long hairs.” Advertisements in the NTSU student newspaper, Campus Chat, advertised advance ticket sales for $6 per day. Bob Anderson was a reporter for the Campus Chat who wrote about his experience at the festival. Anderson said he made the 30 minute drive from Denton each day of the three day festival to experience the festivities, although some attendees took advantage of free camping provided by the festival. Read more
As part of the University of North Texas’ 125th anniversary celebration, the Media Library presents the first in a series of posts paying tribute to our university’s motion picture history. While many may be aware of our starring role in the 1991 comedy, Necessary Roughness, Denton’s relationship with motion picture production actually began in 1913 when the Denton Chamber of Commerce and a local movie theater owner collaborated to produce their own film, Denton City of Education. Denton continued to play a role in motion picture history by hosting the Southwestern Premiere of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) at the Campus Theater. The University itself has been an incubator for Hollywood talent and counts among its alumni numerous actors, writers, and directors.
One of our University’s first stars, Joan “Rosebud” Blondell (1906-1979), attended North Texas State Teacher’s College from 1926-1927. Born in New York, Joan spent most of her childhood traveling the world and performing with her family’s vaudeville troupe before settling on Oakland Ave. in Denton in 1926. In Denton her parents opened a dress shop, “La Mode,” and her mother acted in Denton Little Theater productions. After enrolling at NTSTC in 1926, Joan (then known as Rosebud) began entering local beauty pageants. According to her biography, Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes, Joan even faked a Southern dialect and invented a Texas ancestry so that she could compete in the 1926 Miss Dallas pageant. After winning the title of Miss Dallas, she placed fourth in the 1926 Miss America Pageant. In November 1926 she was crowned Queen of the A&M College Rodeo and Pageant where she was escorted by 2,000 cadets. According to some reports, the cadets found Joan so appealing that they hid her luggage to delay her return to Denton.
During President McConnell’s tenure (1934-1951) the campus needed to expand due to the growing enrollment. Development was held back by a shortage of funds due to the Great Depression. Starting in 1933, with the passage of the New Deal program the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, funds became available. By 1935 the program was renamed the Public Works Administration. The program funded large scale public works construction, such as dams, hospitals and schools. McConnell was able to apply for federal funds to aid in the construction of needed buildings after the Board of Regents gave their authorization.
PWA funds made it possible for UNT to provided better academic and residential facilities. In 1936 a new band and orchestra hall was constructed using a PWA grant and a bond issue from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. This was the first use of a dormitory funding opportunity to finance a classroom building without cost to the taxpayers of Texas. The Orchestra Hall provided classroom space as well as rooms on the top floor for thirty-six men to live in. The men had to be members of the band and orchestra. During World War II the living quarters were used by the women of the college. After World War II the structure was used for classroom and office space. Read more
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.