Lots of numbers stand out about the University of North Texas — with perhaps the biggest being that the Denton institution is celebrating its 125th anniversary this fall.
Still, alumni and current students who cheered on the Mean Green at Homecoming this weekend say it’s the feeling they get stepping on campus that best represents UNT’s strength.
“It was a greater community of support and I would even say love and respect — that was how I found North Texas at every era,” said Emily Klement, who first attended UNT in 1969 and returned in 1990 to finish her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a Ph.D. in education. She is now a top administrator at North Central Texas College in Gainesville.
“They had a wonderful respect for students and were committed to their success and made sure needs were met that we didn’t even know we needed,” she said.
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The school’s name changed to North Texas Normal College in 1894 when the word North was introduced by a clerical error in state legislation. North has been part of the name ever since.
UNT was founded Sept. 16, 1890, as the Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute with 70 students. The first classes were in rented space above a hardware store in downtown Denton.
Today, the school is the 25th-largest public university in the U.S. with more than 37,000 students, renowned for its excellent arts, business and education programs and a growing presence as a science and engineering research powerhouse. It has 380,000 alumni, including 253,000 in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Whether it’s a freshman class that includes 15 National Merit Scholars or faculty members who are part of the prestigious National Academies, UNT is “a university with so many things to brag about,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said Sept. 16 in his state of the university address.
See a timeline of UNT history here.
The school’s 16th president stood onstage and recalled the bold vision of its first president, Joshua C. Chilton.
“What an amazing record of accomplishment in 125 years,” Smatresk said. “I’m incredibly proud of this university. … I know if President Chilton could be on stage he’d be just as proud and just as amazed at our accomplishments as many of you are.”
The celebration of UNT’s 125th year continued this week with a long list of homecoming activities, including a parade, a yearly show of skits and music called “Yell Like Hell,” UNT alumni awards and, of course, the football game Saturday.
Melissa McGuire, assistant vice president for student affairs, said the university strives to make homecoming a student-organized event. Keeping with the anniversary, this year’s Homecoming Crew chose a theme of “Forever Mean Green: A journey through time.”
You never lose your Mean Green and your Eagle spirit.
Kandice Horton, a senior marketing major and this year’s Homecoming Crew student director
The students wanted to reflect that UNT is still home, no matter how long it’s been since graduation, said Kandice Horton, a senior marketing major and this year’s Homecoming Crew student director.
“You never lose your Mean Green and your Eagle spirit,” she said.
Traci Peterson: @tracipeterson
By the numbers
1890 Year that UNT was established as Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute
70 Enrollment in 1890
37,231 Enrollment this fall
900 Campus acreage
218 Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees offered
▪ Norah Jones, nine-time Grammy winner
▪ Larry McMurtry, author of Pulitzer-winning Lonesome Dove and co-writer of Oscar-winning screenplay for Brokeback Mountain
▪ Phil McGraw, TV personality and bestselling author known as Dr. Phil
▪ Sam Moon, oner of Sam Moon Trading Co., one of the world’s leading specialty retailers of fashionable jewelry and accessories
▪ Mary Suhm, Dallas city manager from 2005 to 2013
▪ Don Henley, co-founder of the Eagles, who are 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees for exemplary lifetime achievements in the performing arts
▪ Bill Moyers, TV journalist; former chief correspondent and senior news analyst for CBS; press secretary for President Lyndon B. Johnson
▪ “Mean” Joe Greene, NFL Hall of Famer and defensive lineman for the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s