The North Texan - UNT Alumni Magazine - Spring 2019

Page 1

New Welcome Center Page16



Jim McIngvale [ page 1 8] Behind the Exhibitions [ page 20] Fourth Industrial Revolution [ page 38] Legacy Families [ page 5 2]


Sam Atkinson, director of UNT’s Advanced Environmental Research Institute (AERI) and Regents Professor of biology, studies environmental resources at the ecosystem level, focusing especially on water conservation and restoration projects. One of Atkinson’s “offices” is a 2,100-acre living lab — LLELA (Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area) — perfect for scientific research and environmental education. AERI and its researchers also are working with public and private groups to understand how Texas can best prepare for potential future water shortages and use our resources wisely. UNT’s long legacy in water studies and reputation as a leader in the field make it a prime partner to help.



2 0 1 9



Jim McIngvale

The owner of Houston-based Gallery Furniture has made it his business to help individuals and communities in need.

20 Behind the Exhibitions

Alums of UNT’s art museum education program put their creativity on display.

36 Power of Research

UNT is committed to discovering solutions to 21st century challenges.

38 Fourth Revolution

Engineering alums are making strides as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

42 Mean Green

Men’s basketball ends season with major milestones. DEPARTMENTS F R O M O U R P R E S I D E N T • 3

Tier One reaffirmation Ahna Hubnik


D E A R N O R T H T E X A N • 4

Face maskin’ ... Award nominations ... Asheville art ... Good memories ... Golden Eagle UNT TODAY • 6

UNT Day at the Capitol ... Brilliantly Green ... Ask an Expert ... UNT Alumni Association

Journey of Transformation




Texas troubadour ... Leading the action ... Epic experience ... Talk of the town ...






Voice of acceptance ... Legacy Families ... In the News ... Friends We’ll Miss

By Erin Cristales Cover: Photography by Ahna Hubnik G. Brint Ryan poses in front of the Business Leadership Building. He’s pictured above with his wife, Amanda.

L A S T W O R D • 6 0

Alumni tell of finding love on campus

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n




n o r t ht exan .u /o n li n e

ONLINE FEATURES TEEN PH.D. This December, Noel Jett earned her Ph.D. at 19 after studying a subject she knows well — gifted children. KNEADFUL THINGS Watch as chefs at UNT’s Clark Bakery craft the delicious, buttery croissants that are served daily for breakfast and are the essential ingredient of some truly delectable sandwiches.

James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

AIMING FOR THE STARS For Morgan Novak, a UNT junior working on her fourth internship with NASA, the sky really is the limit as she sets her sights on a future in the space program.

GET CONNECTED Connect with us at Follow us at

Greatest Hits


When you see this arrow, join our North Texan community online at



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

Watch us on universitynorthtexas. Follow us at Visit The North Texan online to: • Keep up with what’s happening between issues of The North Texan • Tell us what you think about our stories • Learn more about your fellow alumni • Write memorials about friends we’ll miss • Enjoy an array of additional stories, photos, videos and recordings













(’96 )





WE’VE HAD A BUSY AND impressive start to 2019. Of greatest excitement, we learned that our status as a Tier One research university was reaffirmed by the Carnegie Classifi­cation (page 36). We’re proud to be among only 131 top research institutions in the nation to earn the highest President Neal Smatresk with students at UNT Day at the Capitol in Austin on Feb. 13. designation. The UNT mission is to prepare students for success in the rapidly changing world, and I know that we’re equipping them to excel in whatever career they choose — whether in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (page 38) or in art museums throughout the country (page 20). In this issue, you’ll also read about G. Brint Ryan (’88, ’88 M.S.), founder of Dallas-based tax services firm Ryan and chairman of the UNT Board of Regents (page 30). Brint and his wife, Amanda, generously donated $30 million to UNT — the largest-ever gift — for at least six endowments and academic program initiatives over the next seven years for the College of Business, which will now be known as the G. Brint Ryan College of Business. Brint is a self-made man and an inspiration to our 38,000 students who are passionate contenders to secure better lives for themselves. He also is an exemplar to others who want to transform students’ lives by giving back. I spent time in Austin this month speaking before the Texas Legislature, and I was especially delighted when more than 150 alumni, students and friends of the university joined me Feb. 13 for the inaugural UNT Day at the Capitol. Our Mean Green family visited all 181 legislative offices to ask for continued support of higher education and to share highlights about UNT (page 6). On campus, we recently opened UNT’s new Welcome Center, a gorgeous, centrally located facility (page 16). I hope you’ll have a chance to visit the next time you’re in town. The Mean Green track — literally, it’s green — is now fully installed, and the Track and Soccer Complex is ready for its April 6 debut for the North Texas Classic. We have much to celebrate as we continue to help our students soar higher. UNT proud,

Neal Smatresk President






(’16 )




(’88, ’07 M . J .)


(’08 )


E D I TO R S E R I N CR I STA L ES ( ’11


M . S .)





(’93 M . S ., ’0 0 M . A .)

(’10 M . J .)







(’92 )






(’16 )












(’0 8, ’12 M . A .)


T h e Nor t h Texan The North Texan (ISSN 0468-6659) is published four times a year (in March, June, September and December) by the University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #311070, Denton, Texas 76203-5017, for distribution to alumni and friends of the university. Periodicals postage paid at Denton, Texas, and at additional mailing offices. The diverse views on matters of public interest presented in The North Texan do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the university. Publications staff can be reached at or 940-565-2108. Postmaster: Please send requests for changes of address, accompanied if possible by old address labels, to the University of North Texas, University Relations, Communications and Marketing, 1155 Union Circle #311070, Denton, Texas 76203-5017 The UNT System and the University of North Texas are the owners of all of their trademarks, service marks, trade names, slogans, graphic images and photography and they may not be used without permission. The University of North Texas does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, political affiliation, disability, marital status, genetic information, citizenship, or veteran status in its application and admission processes, educational programs and activities, university facilities, or employment policies, procedures, and processes. The university takes active measures to prevent such conduct and immediately investigates and takes remedial action when appropriate. The university also prohibits and takes actions to prevent retaliation against individuals who report or file a charge of discrimination or harassment; participate in an investigation, or oppose any form of discrimination or harassment. Direct questions or concerns to the equal opportunity office, 940-5652759, or the dean of students, 940-565-2648. TTY access is available at 940-369-8652. Created by the Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing


©2019 UNT URCM 3/19 (19-433)

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n



North Texan Let us know what you think about news and topics covered in The North Texan. Letters may be edited for length and publication style. Online: (follow the “Contact Us” link) Phone: 940-565-2108 Fax: 940-369-8763 Email:

things all over the country! I’m curious, what is the nomination process for alumni awards?

Face maskin’

Lucas B. Kavlie (’08 Ed.D.) Salt Lake City, Utah

Finding Cody Curry’s letter in the fall 2018 issue brought me a smile and lots of great memories. I always enjoyed working with Cody on the Campus Chat staff. If I remember correctly, that photo from the 1968 Mean Green game versus Arkansas ran in the Chat with the tagline “Face Maskin’.”

Editor’s note: Nominations are accepted each year and then reviewed by a committee that chooses recipients. For information about award criteria and past winners, visit untalumni. com/alumni-awards.

Asheville art

Hal Williams (’72) Garland

Award nominations Thanks for showcasing some College of Education alumni (“Class of Their Own,” fall 2018). We have great people doing great



No r t h Texa n


My husband, Frank (’63), and I visited with Dr. Robert Milnes, former dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design (pictured right), on a recent trip. He is now happily “retired” and successfully


Spring 2019

Mail: The North Texan University of North Texas Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing 1155 Union Circle #311070 Denton, Texas 76203-5017

working with his passion — ceramics — in Asheville, North Carolina. Frank and I were very impressed with his beautiful work at his Arbitrary Forms Studio and were glad to reconnect. You can see his artwork at Janet Bracken (’14) Dallas

Good memories Having grown up in Denton, I entered UNT in the summer of 1966, graduated in 1972, and continued studies in graduate vocal music, history and education until we moved from Denton in 1991. I am always thrilled to read about UNT’s new achievements and expansions. Thank you for streaming UNT College of Music concerts! I especially enjoy the concerts of the A Cappella Choir, in which I sang in the ’60s and ’70s. It was a blessing to serve as president of the

Iota Theta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota and later as president of the Denton Alumnae Chapter of SAI; funding UNT scholarships was one of our major goals. My husband, Gilbert, has both undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNT. My father, G.C. Morlan, died while working on his doctoral dissertation in education in 1969. He and Dr. Toulouse were in the U.S. Air Force reserves together, and Daddy served as a liaison officer for the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was one of eight men who established guidance and counseling in Texas schools for the Texas Education Agency in the 1960s, with an office in the UNT education building’s psychology department for several years. I spent the summer of seventh grade sitting in his office reading Bruce Catton’s history of the civil war. Before my husband was transferred to Atlanta, I had the great privilege of supervising a number of UNT student teachers while teaching Texas history and serving as a curriculum coordinator for Denton ISD. As a result, I have many wonderful memories of UNT! Beryle Eileen Morlan (Austin) Ponce (’72) Dothan, Alabama

Golden Eagle

On graduation day in 1968 at UNT, there were only three of us in our Marine dress whites as we stood on a platform to take the oath of office. I was soon leading convoys from the DMZ to Danang. I remember the North Vietnamese rockets sounded like loud freight

trains before exploding. The temperature outside would get up to 120 degrees, the dirt was brown, and the wind blew most of the time. Eventually I was promoted to company commander and led one final convoy before we were pulled out of Vietnam and went to Okinawa, where the high was 60 degrees and I thought I would freeze. I still have the original spring 1969 issue of The North Texan with an article about my request for Mean Green bumper stickers to put on our trucks. Sigma Nu fraternity sent 100 stickers over and I put them in the

windshields for all to see. The article was titled “Erickson Trades Army Green for Mean Green in Viet Nam.” I pardoned the writer many years ago for the unfortunate mistake. There is the Army, but I am a United States Marine.


Brent Erickson (’68) Royse City Take a look at #UNT represented at the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. #GMG – or would it be North Texas State?! — @LuisTapia I came in a minute before closing and they were out of bacon. 5 minutes later the chef comes out with a plate of bacon done for me. Hats OFF @UNTdining always bringing out the best!! — @jensmansson

UNT Facebook As we say our final goodbye to Fouts Field, we remember the great times. It was the birthplace of many UNT traditions and home field to legendary players. Thanks for the memories! I marched on that field before some of you were born! Starting in 1954!!!! What fun we had. — Carol Stuard (’61) From the fourth of July celebrations to way back to my mom’s HS graduation there in 1968, Fouts Field has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. It will be missed. — Zach Peterson (’11)

Yesterday I was walking out of Sage Hall and this guy was walking out a couple of feet ahead of me and all of sudden he yells “I passed my test!!” And people started cheering for him and Sophia and I started clapping. What a positive and loving environment. #UNT #GMG #MeanGreen — @brynnjobson

Great place to park and make out with your date in the 1960s. — Don Bankston (’69) I and many others were in the stands for the filming of the football scenes in Necessary Roughness. — Gary Conrad (’77) Great memories marching on that field, early ’70s — NTSU. — Janet Morphew Shaw (’75) As a radio, TV and film major I spent many days and nights there with the setup for NTTV to video the games. Made lots of memories and great friends there. Sad to see you go away, my good friend. — Terry Botkin (’94)

Spring 2019


My exam really just UNT vs Arkansas’d me, and I was Arkansas. — @katecartwright (texas a&m ’20) Follow us on Twitter. We look forward to staying connected!




No r t h Texa n



UNT, PGA team up in Frisco.

page 11

Photos by Mel Cole

UNT DAY AT THE CAPITOL Students, alumni and friends headed to Austin in February to advocate for higher education and to ask for support for UNT’s legislative appropriations requests.

See tweets from the UNT Day at the Capitol event at



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

MORE THAN 150 UNT STUDENTS, ALUMNI AND friends filled the halls of the Texas State Capitol in February to advocate for continued support of higher education. For John Matthews (’83, ’87 M.B.A.), the inaugural UNT Day at the Capitol hosted by the UNT Alumni Association was an incredibly rewarding sight. Matthews was involved with student government during his time at UNT and remembers traveling to Austin with former administrators Walt Parker (’40, ’47 M.Ed.) and Alfred Hurley to speak with legislators about the positive work happening at the university. “The time I spent traveling to Austin to visit with legislators as a student had a phenomenal impact on me,” says Matthews, now

a member of the UNT Alumni Association Board of Directors. “It’s wonderful to see this initiative return as a priority for UNT, and it’s something we absolutely must do. We’re the fifth-largest university in the state, but we aren’t funded like that.” Day of advocacy

Those who took part in UNT Day at the Capitol visited the offices of all 181 legislators and shared information about UNT. After departing Denton at 5 a.m., participants arrived in Austin ready to visit the chambers and representatives. Sophomore Yolian Ogbu appreciated how many of her peers took the time to travel and champion UNT in Austin. “It’s a testament to the values and priorities of UNT students. We believe in UNT, and we want the best for every student,” says Ogbu, who is studying political science and communication. Students and alumni teamed up for legislative visits and to ask for support of UNT’s legislative appropriations requests. Those requests call for keeping Texas manufacturing competitive by funding UNT’s Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing (read more on page 41) and helping families affected by autism spectrum disorders by funding the North Texas Autism Collaboration. “This experience is a phenomenal way for students, especially those earning degrees in political science and law, to see the day-to-day workings of the state capitol. Plus, it was a great way for alumni to be re-energized,” says April Cain (’02, ’02 M.S.), a Denton CPA and member of the UNT Alumni Association Board of Directors. “UNT Day at the Capitol is meant to assure that UNT gets the recognition it needs and the priority funding for what we want in both the short and long term. I feel excitement for the future.” Memorable experience

“Glory to the Green and White” and the North Texas fight song emanated from the open-air rotunda when the UNT pep band performed a lunchtime concert. Being at the Capitol gave Adora Gomez a rush. “I’ve been on the law track since sixth grade and an experience like this affirms my desire to pursue that path,” says Gomez, a freshman from Sugarland. “It’s interesting to hear legislators discuss bills that impact our lives.” Given the success of the event, the UNT Alumni Association already is planning to mobilize again during the next session in 2021.

Top: UNT students and Scrappy show off their Eagle claws at the Texas Capitol. Middle: From left, alumni Wade Ford and Kelvin Robinson with students Hermella Tadesse and Michael Luecke visit representatives. Page 6: In front from left are Texas Rep. Drew Springer (’88), Chancellor Lesa Roe, Texas Rep. Lynn Stucky, President Neal Smatresk and Vice President for Advancement David Wolf in the Capitol. Bottom: The pep band performs in the open-air rotunda.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n



Pass it on: Great things are happening at UNT. Learn about them here and share our successes with your family and friends.

• Record-Breaking podcast. A group of UNT media arts students attempted to set the Guinness World Record for longest live audio stream in November with a film-focused podcast that lasted nearly 59 hours. The idea started out as a spur-of-the-moment conversation during breakfast in the Media Arts Living Learning Community at UNT last spring. During the podcast, the students provided an overview of history and social issues within the movie industry and analyzed works such as The Dark Knight and Singin’ in the Rain. • Notable on Netflix. Geoffrey Wawro, professor of history and director of UNT’s Military History Center, was featured in the premiere episode of Netflix’s new Medal of Honor series, produced by Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis and James Moll. In the episode, Wawro discusses the actions of Sylvester Antolak, a sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War II, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor. • Top scholars. UNT Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science seniors Mira Patel, Ritik Patnaik and Rishi Shridharan were recently named three of the top 300 scholars in the nation in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition. Patel, Patnaik and Shridharan (pictured from left) were selected from a pool of nearly 2,000 students. They will each receive a $2,000 prize, and TAMS receives matching money to support STEM education. Michael Clements

Cybersecurity grants

Hassan Takabi, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering, has received more than $1 million in cybersecurity research grants from the National Science Foundation.



No r t h Texa n


He will use a $515,974 grant to develop a computer defense against malicious insiders who leverage basic computer access into unauthorized computer entry. A second grant of $499,581 — in collaboration with Eduardo Blanco, assistant professor of computer science and engineering — will be used to develop instructional modules and hands-on lab exercises that will merge the study of data science and analytics with cybersecurity.


Spring 2019

Preserving Mankiyali

The National Science Foundation has awarded Sadaf Munshi, associate professor of linguistics, a $284,000 grant to document and preserve Manki­yali, a severely endangered language.

Munshi, the principal investigator, will collaborate with linguists and scholars from local partner Air University. Together, they will work with members of the Mankiyali community and also with personnel at the Forum for Language Initiative in Pakistan. The fewer than 500 native Mankiyali speakers left in the world live in a remote village of Pakistan. UNT researchers and students will travel to the region and help provide a lasting record of the language.

CELEBRATING DIVERSITY This year, UNT’s proportion of minority students increased 1.5 percent, making minority students the majority — 51.3 percent of the undergraduate student body. UNT received the 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. And the university was named No. 13 in diversity among education workplaces by Forbes.


In 1983, UNT launched the U.S.’ first undergraduate emergency administration and planning program.


UNT was named the 17th best four-year college in the nation for military veterans this year by Military Times, up from 42nd last year.



UNT reported $43.8 million in research expenditures in 2017, a record level, reflecting the growth in university researchers’ efforts to solve real-world problems.

250 Over the years, UNT faculty, students and alumni have participated in more than 250 Grammy-nominated or Grammy-winning projects.



TOP SPOT UNT’s graduate rehabilitation counseling program ranked 1st in Texas and 12th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Merchandising program ranked 7th in the nation by

3 230

Engineering technology program ranked 3rd in Texas and 14th in U.S. by

With 230 degree programs, UNT is Dallas-Fort Worth’s most comprehensive university. Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Today Ana Alonso, an associate professor of biology, is leading a research project that examines a unique type of seed oil produced by the pennycress plant.

Ahna Hubnik

Seed oil research

Ana Alonso, associate professor of biology, is leading a research project to study a unique type of seed oil produced by the pennycress plant. The research is supported by the Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research. Alonso, who also is a member of UNT’s BioDiscovery Institute, is attempting to optimize the amount of seed oil produced per plant through traditional cross-breeding methods and bioengineering. When properly processed, the common pennycress can produce 100 gallons of oil per acre and can be further processed into aviation fuel. Growing pennycress also could

one day provide farmers with a biodiesel money crop in winter fields that are normally empty. Smart energy

Saraju Mohanty, professor of computer science and engineering, is working with a global consortium to design the city of the future one piece at a time. By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, according to estimates from Mohanty and his team. “We are going to need to develop a way of living that will accommodate such a large number of people concentrated in a small area,” he says. Mohanty is working on the smart energy aspect of the

project by developing a coordinated means of providing energy to the transportation sector. He also is researching sensors that can determine everything from a person’s stress level to whether or not they are about to have a seizure. Observing quasars

Ohad Shemmer, associate professor of physics, received an $800,000 National Science Foundation grant in collaboration with the University of Wyoming to observe infrared light from more than 400 distant quasars. Quasars are the most luminous and persistent radiation sources in the universe and are formed when

A M E R I C A N M AT H E M AT I C A L S O CI E T Y F E L LOW UNT Regents Professor Stephen Jackson was recently accepted as a fellow by the American Mathematical Society. The designation recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions “to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics.” Jackson’s work with definable set theory is one of the reasons he was honored. In August, he shared his findings on the theory at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Rio de Janeiro. He is the first UNT mathematics professor to be recognized as a fellow by the society.



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

matter is funneled into super massive black holes. These black holes are generally found at the centers of galaxies, and it is thought that they help shape the growth of the galaxies around them. Shemmer, the principal investigator on the grant, says that he and his team will conduct about 350 hours of telescopic observations to create a data set for scientists to study. Analysis of the data will enable development of the best prescriptions yet for estimating the key properties in all quasars.

Delegations, alumni events in China



A UNT delega­­tion visited eight Chinese universities in October to explore opportunities for student recruitment, research collaborations and partnerships. Members included Jennifer Cowley, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Pia Wood, vice provost and dean for international affairs; Su Gao, dean of the College of Science; and Yan Huang, former interim dean of the College of Engineering. “UNT as a Carnegie Tier One Research university has a

Ranjani Groth

U N T, P G A T E A M U P To develop unparalleled educational opportunities for students in fields related to sport entertainment management, UNT and the PGA in December signed a memorandum of understanding on education, research and branding initiatives for both entities. The signing of the memorandum follows the PGA’s announced intent to relocate its headquarters to Frisco, a hotbed of sport entertainment activity and the location of UNT’s Frisco campus and its sports, entertainment, recreation and event management programs. Pictured from left are PGA Chief Operating Officer Darrell Crall and UNT President Neal Smatresk at the signing event in December.

national and global impact,” Cowley says. “The opportunities for our students to learn and interact with people from all over the world is really wonderful for us, as is the impact we have in terms of research collaborations.” The delegation visited East China Normal University, Donghua University, Nanjing Forestry University, Hangzhou Dianzi University, South China Normal University, Guangzhou University, Beijing Forestry University and Beijing University of Technology. UNT currently has partnerships with Donghua’s textile

science and merchandising programs, and with Nanjing Forestry’s computer science program. The delegation also met with UNT alumni in Shanghai and Beijing, where they mingled and received university updates. “It’s fantastic to hear about the great things our alumni are doing,” Cowley says. In April, a second delegation — including President Neal Smatresk, Vice President of Digital Strategy Adam Fein and G. Brint Ryan College of Business Dean Marilyn Wiley — plans to visit the Fuzhou region of China.

UNT International

A delegation from UNT, which included Provost Jennifer Cowley, Vice Provost and Dean for International Affairs Pia Wood, College of Science Dean Su Gao and former College of Engineering Interim Dean Yan Huang, recently visited with alumni in Shanghai. Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Ranjani Groth


Fast-tracking rural doctors

Two years at Midland College, one year at UNT and four years at UNT’s Health Science Center in Fort Worth will add up to a medical degree for four UNT students from Midland. The Primary Care Pathway Program, offered

through UNT’s College of Science, is designed to accelerate the process of pre-med education in order to fill a need for primary care physicians in rural areas. “Midland is a prime example of a community where the supply of doctors has not kept

up with the population,” says Debrah Beck, UNT assistant dean of health professions. The four students currently in the program are taking enhanced science and math courses at UNT’s main campus in Denton. They are required to maintain a 3.5 GPA, take at least 15 credit hours per semester and participate in healthcare enrichment activities such as mentoring and physician shadowing. “It’s hard,” says Diana Garcia Garcia, pictured second from left with Micah Bigby, Cayden Martinez and Clarence Sparks. “But UNT is really taking good care of us.”

Ranjani Groth


“Working on behalf of a collective interest, and working with a team to make it happen — that’s the key to effective leadership,” says James Meernik, Regents Professor of political science and director of UNT’s Castleberry Peace Institute. He should know. Not only is Meernik an expert on international justice and post-conflict peacebuilding — his areas of research include the former Yugoslavia and Colombia — but he also knows a few things about steering people and departments toward success. He is former chair of the Department of Political



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

President’s Lecture Series

The university is preparing the creative leaders of tomorrow by bringing visionary and accomplished leaders to campus through its new UNT President’s Lecture Series, which launched Feb. 21. The inaugural speaker was Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate. During his lecture, he discussed the state of space exploration and shared insight on NASA’s current and future missions. To learn more about the lecture series, visit president.

Visionary leader

Science, former associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and former acting dean of the Toulouse Graduate School — roles that included recruiting senior scholars, developing a special focus on international relations and comparative politics, and rethinking graduate school policies to better support students. His accomplishments led to the 2018 Leadership Award, which he received at UNT’s Salute to Faculty Excellence. “The goal is to always look out for the best interests of students and faculty,” says Meernik, who joined the UNT faculty in 1991. He has long looked for opportunities to better his students’ understanding of peacebuilding and help them build marketable communication and analytical skills. This semester, the two-time Fulbright Specialist Grant winner launched a project in his peace studies class that encouraged students to figure out the best way to gather and bring supplies to indigenous students affected by the violent civil wars in Colombia. “I want them to come away with a sense that they did something to help,” Meernik says. “I want them to see that their bit of work did something to make somebody’s life better.”

New VP named

Adam D. Fein, an industry leader in online and innovative education with nearly 20 years of experience, has been tapped to oversee digital strategy and innovation at UNT. Fein, whose appointment began Nov. 1, leads the university’s key initiatives in educational technology, online and blended learning. For the past 17 years, Fein has served at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in numerous roles, including

assistant provost for educational innovation and associate director of the institution’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. New engineering dean

Hanchen Huang has been named the new dean of UNT’s College of Engineering. His appointment began Jan. 1. In his role at UNT, Huang oversees academics, research and outreach for the college. Huang also serves as the Lupe Murchison Foundation Chair

Professor at UNT. Prior to joining the university, he served as the Donald W. Smith professor and department chair of mechanical and industrial engineering at Northeastern University. He also served at the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. New Mayborn dean

Andrea Miller, an accomplished researcher on the topics of breaking news, crisis


com­munications, local reporting and other journalism issues, has been named the new dean for the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. Her appointment begins July 1. Miller is an award-winning journalist turned academic. Prior to her UNT appointment, she served as a professor and associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Ask an Expert

How can I be a more effective communicator?


everal years ago, when group text first became popular, Brian Richardson — chair of UNT’s Department of Communication Studies — would respond to friends with his trademark dry humor. Their response? Radio silence. “Finally, I asked one of my friends, ‘Why don’t you ever laugh?’ And he said, ‘Why are you always so serious?’ Clearly, the message wasn’t carrying well,” Richardson says. And while in recent years, many have mastered the nuances of digital communication — often with the help of a strategically placed emoji — there’s still plenty to learn about interpersonal communication. Richardson, who joined the UNT faculty in 2001, says his biggest piece of advice is a deceptively simple one: listen, whether online or in-person. “We really can’t communicate effectively unless we know where other people are coming from,” he says, “and we can’t know where they’re coming from if we don’t listen.”

How important is it to be aware of body language? It’s said that about 93 percent of what we communicate is through nonverbal communication — facial expressions, gestures, and the tone and pace of voice. Your movements, facial expressions, vocal qualities and gestures should all have purpose — they are carrying a lot of the weight of your message. Are there good icebreakers to help people start conversations? People love to talk about themselves. Ask them lots of questions. Always think about where you’re going and who’s going to be there, and do a little research. Be observant — pay attention to the things that seem important to them and ask about those. — Erin Cristales

Spring 2019


Ahna Hubnik

How can people learn to more easily talk with others, particularly face-to-face? If you’re not good at a particular skill, like eye

contact, you’re going to have to — just like riding a bike — get on it and fall off. Treat it like you’re a kid learning the skill for the first time. Practice it until it feels natural.



No r t h Texa n



Michael Clements

Education conference

Kuehne Speaker Series

With more than 700 in attendance, the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series hosted Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as its featured speaker March 7 at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel. Jones purchased the

Cowboys in 1989, and in 2017 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the 15th owner in history to earn a bust in Canton. To learn more about the Kuehne Speaker Series, visit

Green Pride

Hundreds of global thought leaders, technology experts, industry leaders and educators from all learning levels participated in the international U.S.-China Smart Education Conference March 18-20 at the UNT campus in Denton. This was the fourth year of the conference and the first time it was hosted in the United States. UNT co-hosted the conference in conjunction with Beijing Normal University. The title sponsor was Edmodo, owned by NetDragon, which funded UNT’s NetDragon Digital Research Centre.

The conference tackled a number of trends facing educators, who engaged in discussions and tutorials with national and international experts who are transforming education through intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence and augmented realities. The conference also featured a pitch competition inspired by the hit show Shark Tank™ to encourage creative individuals and teams from the educational technology industry to “sell” their product vision to judges, companies and potential investors.

Celebrate new grads

It’s time to once again celebrate the newest additions to the UNT alumni family with the annual UNT Grad Block Party. Set for May 10 at the University Union South Lawn and the Library Mall, the celebration is an opportunity for the entire UNT community to come together and celebrate everything new graduates have accomplished. Filled with festivities including commemorative giveaways, a special gift for graduates, festival-style food, food trucks, live music, games, photo ops, Scrappy, and UNT merchandise and memorabilia, the evening will wrap up with a mock champagne toast, fireworks and the UNT Alma Mater at dark. UNT graduates from the 2018-19 academic year are the guests of honor, but the entire UNT community — including guests of graduates, faculty and staff, alumni and current students — is invited to join the festivities. Graduates should bring their tassels and UNT ID to receive a free graduation gift and to be entered into the drawings. Drawings for winners will be held every half-hour throughout the event. And don’t forget to check out The North Texan tent to play UNT trivia and win prizes! Learn more at



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

OLLI gets $1M endowment

IMPROVING ALFALFA A team at UNT’s BioDiscovery Institute, led by College of Science professor, National Academy member and Royal Society fellow Richard Dixon, has developed ways for the common alfalfa plant to produce types of tannin that will allow for better digestion by sheep and cattle with less release of environmentally unfriendly greenhouse gases. One of the properties of tannin is that it can bind to proteins and, in the case of livestock, allow the proteins to last longer during the process of digestion, with less release of methane. The team, whose findings were published in Nature Plants in November, has discovered ways to alter the composition and size of tannins in alfalfa and related plants through genetic engineering.

When Stephanie Reinke came on board as the director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNT in September 2017, she had a clear mission —­exceed 500 members and meet other funding criteria by the end of August 2018 in order to be eligible to apply for a $1 million endowment from The Bernard Osher Foundation. OLLI at UNT not only met that goal but exceeded it with a current membership of more than 600. “The goal is to make OLLI at UNT financially self-sustaining and this endowment is going to help us do that,” Reinke says. OLLI at UNT offers non-credit courses, events and trips designed by and for adults 50 and better. For more information, visit Lifetime achievement

UNT Regents Professor Victor Prybutok was awarded the 2018 Decision Sciences Institute’s Lifetime Distinguished Educator Award. Prybutok, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Toulouse Graduate School, received the award for exceptional contributions to teaching and learning in decision sciences over the course of his career. He has published more than 200 journal articles and given more than 300 presentations worldwide.

UNT Alumni Association The UNT Alumni Association is preparing to publish the 2020 edition of the UNT Alumni Directory in partnership with Publishing Concepts (PCI). A new directory is published every five years to help alumni connect with each other and the university. Updated alumni data allows UNT to better determine where alumni live and work and keeps graduates connected to UNT news and events. The 2020 directory will feature a new alumni-owned business and mentorship directory. Alumni who volunteer to become networking or mentorship contacts will be listed with their field, job title and preferred method of contact. As part of the directory project, alumni may receive a postcard, email or call requesting updated contact information. These are authorized communications from the UNT Alumni Association through PCI. Alumni will be offered the opportunity to buy a personal copy of the alumni directory, but purchase is not required to participate. Alumni data will not be listed in the directory or shared to any outside contact without permission. This important alumni data verification project will help strengthen the Mean Green network and provide important career and networking connections. Please help the UNT Alumni Association keep the Mean Green network strong through your participation. To join the association or learn more, visit, email or call 940-565-2834.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n



Photos by Ahna Hubnik


New Welcome Center The state-of-the-art facility offers prospective students and their families a unique glimpse into life on the UNT campus.

When prospective students and their families step foot on campus to explore UNT, they’ll be met by friendly Eagle Ambassadors — and much more. Now, visitors also will be greeted by UNT’s new Welcome Center, a one-of-a-kind space that contains two presentation rooms, huddle rooms for advisors to meet with families, and a mock dorm room, among other amenities. The center, which officially opened March 4, is located at the intersection of Avenue A and Eagle Drive. It is part of a $58.9 million project that includes the construction of a 500-bed residence hall named after UNT football legend “Mean” Joe Greene. “The Welcome Center is a place where prospective students can come to be inspired and explore all that our great university has to offer in an environment that speaks to them,” says Laurea Irving, Sign up for a campus director of visitor experience. “We want them to leave here with all tour at of their questions answered.”



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

STUDENT FOCUSED As the home base for student tours, the center is dedicated to providing prospective or new students and their families a memorable, informative experience. The huddle rooms provide a place for advisors to offer one-on-one support, and in the mock dorm room, students can learn about the importance and logistics of residence hall life. Six computers eventually will be installed at the back of the center to help students further explore admissions and application processes.

GREEN PRIDE The center boasts unique decorative elements, including a large UNT battle flag made from green tiles (pictured) and green, star-shaped light fixtures. But the spirit doesn’t end there. The Fight Song plays as visitors approach the building, and the waiting area features comfy couches and chairs with green pillows, along with tables filled with past Aerie and Yucca yearbooks. Plus, as students wait for presentations to begin, they are introduced to UNT traditions through videos that instruct them on how to form the perfect Eagle Claw and properly celebrate a Mean Green victory.

HIGH TECH Two cutting-edge conference rooms — one that seats 26 and another that seats 150 — introduce students to life at UNT. During each presentation, students and their parents are shown videos focusing on topics including campus life, research excellence, UNT’s partnerships with organizations such as the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Motor Speedway, and student perspectives. Video monitors throughout the building provide information on athletics, residence hall life and other areas, and one of the monitors eventually will feature social media feeds.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Jim McIngvale J by Monique Bird

im McIngvale and his wife, Linda, started Houston-based Gallery Furniture in 1981 with $5,000 and a pickup truck. The first location was in an abandoned model home park, where the two UNT alumni slept because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to have anything stolen. Every Saturday, the couple drove to Dallas to pick up the next week’s furniture load. After modest success, an economic decline hit Gallery Furniture hard. McIngvale revisited his advertising strategy, and decided to spend his last $10,000 on local television commercials. Frustrated with the production, McIngvale stepped in front of the camera, fast-talked his way through a sales pitch and, on a whim, threw that day’s sales dollars into the air as he yelled, “Gallery Furniture saves … you … money!” It was an instant success and sales ticked upward. “Mattress Mack” was born. “Nine out of 10 customers who come to Gallery Furniture tell me one thing,” says McIngvale, who received a UNT honorary degree and Distinguished Alumni Award last year. “We’re here because of what you do. Price doesn’t matter.” And what McIngvale does is extend an incredibly generous helping hand to his community. In the years since Gallery Furniture’s financial rebirth, he has given millions to organizations, from the Texas Heart Institute to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where his record $600,000 bid for the grand champion steer in 2001 helped raise money for scholarships.

The business alumnus and Houston-based entrepreneur, best known as Mattress Mack, has made it his business to help people and communities in need. 18


No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

The entrepreneur also hosts an annual Christmas furniture giveaway, free Thanksgiving dinners and a sensorysensitive prom for children with autism spectrum disorder, among other altruistic activities. Most recently, McIngvale converted one-third of his two largest stores into opportunity centers, which offer vocational training in construction, welding, robotics and other in-demand jobs with big pay potential, as well as classes on financial literacy and other life skills. “Within a five-mile radius of Gallery Furniture, the average annual income is $29,000,” he says. “I am part capitalist and part social worker. And I believe capitalists like myself have an obligation to give back and make our communities a better place.” McIngvale, a member of the Mean Green football team from 1972 to 1974, also has helped the UNT community. His support was instrumental in the construction of the Athletic Center and the adjacent football practice facility. But he’s perhaps best known for the work he did in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, where his reputation as a consummate philanthropist was solidified. In the midst of the destruction left by the Category 4 storm, McIngvale made two decisions. One: Send out large delivery trucks that could drive through the high waters to assist with rescues. And two: Open two Gallery Furniture stores as temporary shelters. “People waded through the dark and dirty water and walked into the furniture store carrying their entire life’s belongings in black plastic trash bags. Entire families — parents, children, infants, pets. We took them all in,” McIngvale says. “It’s what you do.”

Michael Clements

Jim McIngvale Houston

customers away from you, and

very low so you can make money,

their own creature comforts aside

you’re trying to take theirs from

and your family and friends have

and worried about their neigh-

them. That’s the way the game

to be on your side.

bors. The heroes were the people who got all that dirty water in

is played.

Handling setbacks: Get back up – best lesson I ever learned. Fall seven, rise eight. Nobody said this stuff was going to be fun, easy or fair. Out there in the free enterprise, the competition is trying to take your

Hurricane Harvey heroes:

their house and now more than a

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

The heroes were the first

year later, they’ve rewritten their

responders, the firemen, the po-

narrative and they’re back in the

Find many ideas, and if you fail

licemen, the EMTs, the National

house because they’re resilient,

at a couple, it’s not a big deal.

Guard who stayed awake for four

which is a trait all Texans share.

If you fail forward fast, I think

or five days in a row, risking their

that’s great. If you start your own

lives to save our fellow citizens,


business, keep your overhead

the unsinkable Texans who put

to read more about McIngvale.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Behind the

Exhibitions by Jessica DeLeón


Mary Burke (’96 M.F.A.) likes to hear the silence. The hush comes when visitors to the Sid Richardson Museum, which focuses on American Western art, enter a small gallery displaying five impressionistic paintings by Frederic Remington. The artwork features scenes of life of the American West in the 1800s — an active stagecoach scene, a native gathering, an American Indian riding in the snow-covered landscape — set against the night sky. “There is a perceptible change in visitor response when they see all these nocturnes,” says Burke, the Fort Worth museum’s director since 2012. But she also likes the noise, especially from schoolchildren captivated by action-based paintings of cowboys and Native Americans. “You see the painting through their eyes,” she says. “You just never know from day to day what might transpire.” Burke, who began working at the museum in 1996 as an educator, has enhanced the museum’s educational initiatives and created innovative exhibitions thanks to her education at UNT. In the College of Visual Arts and Design’s art museum education program, students can take one of two tracks — an art museum education certificate, designed for those who are working on a graduate degree in another field, or a master’s degree with an emphasis on art museum education. They learn to think critically via vigorous discussions and courses in pedagogy and also take field trips and participate in internships at DFW’s world-renowned museums. As a result, alumni land positions in some of the country’s most prestigious museums and institutions — ­ including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Animation Research Library at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles, among others — driving the art world from coast to coast. From collections coordinators to art museum educators, these professionals do everything from restoring great works of art to developing educational programs for those with specific needs. And they are motivated by a common goal — to ensure visitors from all walks of life get to appreciate, learn and think about art in new ways. “I’m consciously thinking about what visitors may gain when they visit the museum,” Burke says, “and how I can find ways to be sure they enjoy their experience.”

For example, Burke wants museum goers to feel comfortable in the museum’s gallery, as if they’re stepping into Sid Richardson’s sitting room. Richardson was a wealthy oil businessman whose more than 100 pieces of Western art were moved from his ranch home and office to an intimate, bustling museum in downtown Fort Worth in 1982. “We are so fortunate to be able to share these masterworks from Richardson’s personal collection,” she says. In her first position as an educator, Burke developed school tours, wrote lessons, and trained the teachers and docents who led the tours. Now as director, she oversees the seven-member staff and exhibitions.



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

Ranjani Groth

Creating new worlds

Mary Burke (’96 M.F.A.)

Graduates from UNT’s art museum education program are using creative ways to enhance visitors’ experiences at some of the nation’s most renowned museums and institutions. Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Doug Engalla

For the 2016 exhibition honoring the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry (’58), she worked with other museums to obtain costume sketches, designs for stage sets and screenplay notes. Burke inherited her love of art from her mother, who often took her to their hometown museum, the St. Louis Museum of Art. After graduating from Texas Christian University, Burke served as director of education at Waco Art Center before pursuing a master’s at UNT. She uses many of the lessons she learned, from advocacy for the visual arts in communities and schools to collaboration with teammembers, to give visitors the best experience possible. “We know our patrons want to find value in their visits,” Burke says. “It’s important to examine and reinvent ourselves to stay relevant.”

Bethany Stout McGill (’09 M.A.)

Erin Geidman

Emily Fry (’08 M.A.) also keeps audience experience top of mind. She is director of interpretation for the Art Institute of Chicago, where more than a million people may experience her creations. The museum houses such classic works as Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Grant Wood’s American Gothic and was featured in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “UNT really taught me to think about the visitor,” she says. “That’s the heart of interpretation.” Fry leads a team that focuses on just that, from creating videos to writing labels for pieces so visitors can understand the art. For an exhibition of ancient Chinese bronzes last year, they set up a hands-on activity for visitors to make their own rubbings to convey that this was how historians learned about the vessels. And when the new African galleries opened, they consulted a Yoruba spiritual practitioner from Nigeria and his student in Chicago to gain multiple perspectives.

Aidan Fitzpatrick

Heart of interpretation

Emily Fry (’08 M.A.)

Andrew Palamara (’14 M.A.)

Always active in creating her own art, including welding and pencil drawing, Fry also worked at the Wichita Art Museum and Spencer Museum of Art while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Kansas. A classmate and Wichita colleague, Amanda Blake (’06 M.A.), now director of education and library services at Amon Carter Museum of American Art, told her about UNT’s art history and art education programs. At UNT, she completed a master’s degree in art history, the certificate in art museum education and took part in the Priddy Fellowship in Arts Leadership, in which she took classes in not-for-profit leadership. She also applied for fellowships, receiving one at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City during her second year. After stints working at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, she landed the job at the Art Institute. “There are so many iconic works in this museum,” Fry says. “I’m humbled to be a part of it, and to help push visitors to think outside the box of what a museum can be.”

Greatest workspace on earth Bethany Stout McGill (’09 M.A.) also works with some unforgettable artwork. “I feel like a guardian of not only my childhood memories, but of so many other people’s childhood memories,” she says. McGill is a collections coordinator for the Animation Research Library at Walt Disney Animation Studios, which holds roughly 65 million objects — background paintings, animation drawings and paintings of visual concepts of characters, places and story scenarios from films. An artist herself, McGill majored in studio art at Oklahoma Baptist University. She came to UNT to earn her master’s in art history, and discovered her calling when she visited DFW museums as part of the Seminar in Art Museums course. When she heard museum staffers

describe their work, she thought, “You get to touch the cool stuff? It feels like being best friends with a celebrity.” She recalls famed Disney animation director and producer Don Hahn describing the work done at the ARL as “part curator, chemist and detective” after he toured the facilities in the 1990s. “In the early days of the studio, not all artwork was credited or organized like it might be today. I visually evaluate the drawings and make determinations as to what production and artist produced it to rehouse and attribute accurately,” she says. “Unlike museums that keep records of artist, date and mediums used from the moment of acquisition, we are working with a collection that was created with an intention set on creating a film, and that information wasn’t always recorded. ” After earning her degree, McGill volunteered at local museums and, later, at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian when she moved with her husband, Ken McGill (’05), to Washington, D.C. A Smithsonian colleague tipped her off about the job at Disney. Now she’s working on archiving sketches from The Lion King, requiring her to don gloves and use tweezers to rehouse and organize the material. She also creates records in an effort to digitize artwork. McGill loves that she’s part of maintaining the legacy of the Disney company and caring for the artists’ work. “So many wonderful artists have poured themselves into this animated work,” she says. “It’s important to preserve it.”

perceive beauty through the bias of age, gender and culture. “People have their own ideas about what kind of art is lovely to look at,” says Pala­mara, associate director of docent learning for the museum. Palamara helps generate discussions for docents, who lead tours in the museum that contains 6,000 years of art. He learned that level of initiative in classes taught by Laura Evans, UNT associate professor of art education and coordinator of art museum education, who often encouraged group discussions instead of lectures. “That experience informed my thinking about how people learn and how to empower people to speak their minds about what they see,” he says. Palamara, who grew up in Coppell, studied design communications at Belmont University in Nashville before joining UNT’s program, where he interned for a summer camps program at the Dallas Museum of Art. Now, in Cincinnati, he trains more than 100 docents and says he appreciates being surrounded by great works of art and interacting with people. “At least once a day, I get to have a conversation about art and how to make it accessible to different kinds of people,” he says. “I try not to take that for granted.”


Art of discussion
 Andrew Palamara (’14 M.A.) recently took a group of docents into a gallery at the Cincinnati Art Museum, where they were surrounded by early 20th century portraits of women. Their task? To label the portraits — from artists such as Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera — as “alluring,” “unappealing” or any other word of their choosing. The room buzzed as they discussed how visitors may

Through their museum education classes at UNT, alumni working in DFW area art museums learned to develop initiatives so visitors from a variety of backgrounds – from youth to medical professionals – can understand art.

tunes & traditions UNT has made its mark on the storied history of jazz. Inspired by the music’s pioneers, talented students come to our own first-of-its-kind program where they find new inspiration and develop into award-winning performers themselves. Come experience our UNT musicians and discover jazz legends in the making at the UNT Showcase Stage.

Denton Arts & Jazz Festival Quakertown Park Friday, April 26, 3-11 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Visit for more information and performance schedules.


Grammy news page 28

TEXAS TROUBADOUR Gary Nicholson has carved a career as one of Nashville’s top songwriters, winning two Grammys and penning No. 1 hits.

GARY NICHOLSON MET SOME important people when he went to North Texas — his wife Barbara (’72), and a fellow music student named Jim Ed Norman, who introduced him to a student named Don Henley. Nicholson, Norman and Henley moved to Los Angeles in 1970 to pursue their dreams in music. Henley hit it big with The Eagles. Norman eventually became a top record producer and, in 1980, he persuaded Nicholson to move to Nashville and work as a songwriter. Nicholson’s 500 songs have been performed by Vince Gill, the Dixie Chicks, Ringo Starr, Fleetwood Mac and other top artists. He’s won two Grammys in the Best Contemporary Blues category for the albums Nothing Personal in 2001 and Cost of Living in 2005 and has been inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame. His new CD is The Great Divide. “It’s exciting to hear your song,” he says. “It still is, all the time, just to out of the blue hear the song.”

Stacie Huckeba

Learn more about how Nicholson’s friendship with Jim Ed Norman and Don Henley influenced his career at Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Muse Books Inspirational woman Marjorie Herrera Lewis, adjunct professor of media ethics in the media arts department, was inspired to write her new novel when she got an allergy shot. Lewis, a former sportswriter with the Fort Worth StarTelegram and The Dallas Morning News, wore a T-shirt with a football printed on it while nurse Jean VanWaters gave the shot. VanWaters told Lewis about her grand-aunt Tylene Wilson, who coached a football team in Brownwood during

World War II. When the Men Were Gone (Harper Collins) is a fictionalized account of Wilson’s story. “I wanted to memorialize what Tylene had done during such a difficult time in our country’s history,” Lewis says.

Politics and religion A 2005 conference paper written by Elizabeth Oldmixon, professor of political science, and Brian Calfano (’07 Ph.D.), now a professor of political science and journalism at the University of Cincinnati, has become a book. The idea for A Matter of Discretion: The Politics of Catholic Priests in the

United States and Ireland began when marriage equality issues appeared on the ballot in the 2004 U.S. elections to boost Republican turnout. “When religious issues intersect with political issues, priests are political leaders — whether they like it or not,” Oldmixon says. “This makes routine decisions, such as the topic of a sermon or what to put in the bulletin, politically relevant.”

Computers on the brain How does the brain react to Google, Facebook and other technologies that have emerged in recent years? Thomas D. Parsons, professor of learning

technologies, explores the question in Cyberpsychology and the Brain: The Interaction of Neuroscience and Affective Computing (Cambridge University Press). A clinical neuropsychologist, he wrote the book to help students and researchers understand technology’s impact. “Brain-based approaches to cyberpsychology study both the way people make use of devices and the neurocognitive processes, motivations, intentions, behavioral outcomes, and effects of online and offline uses of technology,” says Parsons, director of UNT’s NetDragon Digital Research Centre and the Computational Neuropsychology and Simulation Laboratory.

Leading the action Myron Martin (’80) relished the opportunity to be student director for UNT’s production of Carousel. “There were lots of people who were better on stage than I was,” he says. “I loved the inner workings — making sure the music, the dancing, the sets were just right.” Martin has made working behind the scenes his career. He is president and CEO of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, named one of the top 10 theaters in the world by Pollstar magazine. Martin began playing piano in the sixth grade and performed in musical revues as a student growing up in Houston. A high school trip to New York City to see Broadway shows cemented his passion for music and theater. “And there was no doubt that I was going to go to North Texas because of the great reputation of the music school,” he says. Martin, who was a music education major, further developed his leadership skills as a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Kappa Sigma and North Texas 40. After graduation, he worked throughout the country for Baldwin Piano Co. and collaborated with Jerry Metellus

Billy Joel, Dave Brubeck and Liberace. He obtained his M.B.A. from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, while working for Baldwin. After Liberace died in 1987, Martin oversaw the entertainer’s estate and foundation in Las Vegas for four years. He then ran the Performing Arts Center at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas — where UNT President Neal Smatresk once served as president. Martin also dreamed of a world-class performing arts center in Las Vegas. He helped raise $470 million for The Smith Center, which can accommodate a variety of shows — from concerts and blockbusters like Hamilton to Myron’s Cabaret, a 220-seat jazz club that is named after Martin. “We wanted The Smith Center to be something for everyone,” he says. “And we’ve done that. I really do believe that I gained much-needed leadership skills at North Texas.”



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

Epic experience

Upcoming Events

Vanessa Borer

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman (’13 Ph.D.) didn’t think she had the talent to work as a professional violinist. Then she got hired to play for an ensemble through a college listserv. She thought something was strange during her first performance at a craft fair. “The musicians sounded perfect and really loud,” she says. “It sounded perfect because the microphones were off.” In fact, the music was almost a copy of the soundtrack to the movie Titanic. Hindman describes her experience in Sounds Like Titanic (Norton), a memoir that was her dissertation at UNT. She toured the world and appeared on PBS specials with the ensemble for five years in the early 2000s. The Composer, as she refers to the ensemble’s leader, cut off the microphones and sold CDs while the musicians played for eight to 10 hours. The Composer also chose the musicians for their looks, and the ensemble consisted of young, attractive women. Hindman kept a journal of her experiences, and English professors Bonnie Friedman and Ann McCutchan gave her advice on how to structure the book. “They didn’t give praise easily,” Hindman says, “but they were encouraging.”

Alberto Pandya

Dance and Theatre

Emerging playwright Franky D. Gonzalez (’13) has lots of ideas flowing through his head. The theatre major is working on three plays — one about a family’s rise to prominence and downfall, another about boxing, and a children’s play about ducks and bears. His works have been staged by Dallas-Fort Worth

theaters and national festivals. Last fall, Gonzalez was one of five playwrights chosen from more than 1,500 applicants to participate in the Annual Playwrights’ Week from The Lark, a New York-based international theater laboratory dedicated to helping playwrights. “Playwriting appeals to me because writing the work is the first step toward completing the play,” he says. “You collaborate with others to turn the skeleton of your script into something that lives and breathes for an audience.”

Mirror Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation features sculptures and prints related to the African experience by the Los Angeles-based Saar. The exhibit runs until May 11 at the UNT Art Gallery in the new Art Building. Learn more at The exhibition Scene & Heard: Selections from the Local Independent Music Initiative of Texas will feature visual and audio selections — including recordings, gig posters, photography, setlists and more — April 5-28 at UNT on the Square, with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. April 5. LIMIT, part of UNT Libraries, is an ongoing initiative to collect, preserve and provide access to music that originates in Texas with an emphasis on music from the Dallas-Fort Worth-Denton area. The College of Music presents Global Rhythms: Percussion Ensembles at 6:30 p.m. April 10 in the Music Building’s Voertman Hall. The free concert features music of Indonesia and South India and music born of African slaves transplanted to Cuba. The Baroque Orchestra and Collegium Singers perform Der getreue Music-Meister at 7:30 p.m. April 12 at Winspear Performance Hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center. Paul Leenhouts, director of early music, and Richard Sparks, chair of conducting and ensembles, will conduct the concert from the works of Baroque composer Georg Philipp Telemann. The UNT Symphony and Grand Chorus presents Mendelssohn’s Elijah at 7:30 p.m. April 24 at Winspear Performance Hall at the Murchison and at 6 p.m. April 28 at Stonebriar Community Church, 4801 Legendary Dr. in Frisco. Allen Hightower, director of choral studies, leads the UNT musicians in the compelling story of the Old Testament prophet. Buy tickets at The Department of Dance and Theatre presents Summer and Smoke, Tennessee Williams’ play about the love between a Southern girl and young doctor. It shows at 7:30 p.m. April 11-13 and 2 p.m. April 13-14 in the University Theater in the RTVFP Building. Learn more at

Visit for more upcoming events.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Whether they were performing in a big band or teaching a marching band, UNT alumni received recogni-

Making concerts

tion at the annual Grammy Awards in February. Several individuals with UNT connections contributed to American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, which won Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for the John Daversa Big Band. They are alumni saxophonist Jeff Driskill, trumpeter Jack Wengrosky (’96 M.M.), trombonist Derek Pyle (’16) and bassoonist Brian McKee, academic counselor for graduate studies in the College of Music. Trumpeter Juan Chaves (’11, ’13 M.M.) played on Cardi B’s Best Rap Album, and Scott Tixier, assistant professor of violin, lent his talents to PJ Morton’s win in Best Traditional R&B Performance. Jeremy Bradstreet (’98 M.M.), above, band director of Dublin Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio, was a finalist for the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation’s “Music Educator of the Year” Award. He’s led his students to national awards, but he was cited for his personal approach to teaching — such as hosting social events, and leadership and mentorship opportunities. “I hope to teach my students that anything they want to attain in life can be possible, but it might be a long-delayed process of gratification, much like making beautiful music,” Bradstreet says.

Bread winner

Elliot Sims (’18) is just out of college, but he’s already winning awards. Sims received the Irma P. Hall Black Theatre Award for Best Lead Actor in a Play for his role in the WaterTower Theatre production of Bread, a role he performed while wrapping up his last semester at UNT.



No r t h Texa n


He played Jr. Baker, a college accounting major who also has a talent for rapping — and his parents are conflicted about his desires. Sims would like to continue acting professionally and produce his own plays and films. “I want to tell great stories that have the ability to reflect ourselves, giving someone a chance to personalize with a reality that’s different from their own and become enlightened by that,” he says.


Spring 2019

As a choral conductor, Deborah Simpkin King (’82 M.Ed., ’91 Ph.D.) faces many tasks. One of her most time-consuming is selecting and building programs around music she believes will speak to her singers and to audiences. So, a decade ago, she founded PROJECT: ENCORE, an international, online catalog of contemporary choral music. King, who works in New York City and northern New Jersey, serves as artistic director for the Ember Ensemble of Schola Cantorum on Hudson and for the Crescent Concert Series, for which she also conducts the Crescent Choral Society and Crescent Singers. “Concert construction is so rewarding when hearts are moved,” she says.

Conducting the force

Composer and conductor Jermaine Stegall (’03 M.M.) has always been a fan of the Star Wars series. Now he’s

composed the music for Our Star Wars, an original digital series from Lucasfilm and focusing on the movie franchise’s devout fans. Stegall also composed music for the Netflix movie The Christmas Chronicles, one of dozens of film and TV scores for which he’s written music. And he is working with film music teams at major studios as part of the Universal/ Dreamworks Film Music Diversity Initiative. “It’s a great feeling to hear my music in films and on TV,” he says. “But the reason I do it is more about the process of marrying visuals and music.”

Television and Film Healing movie



Dan Howell Photography

Grammy honors

Thomas Snide


Shelia Samone Brown’s (’10 Ed.D.) novel has been adapted into a movie. She drew upon her experiences as a domestic violence survivor to write Beneath the Scar: Rise to Healing, about an abused Mississippi debutante. The movie, for which Brown served as executive producer, premiered in March at the Irving Arts Center. Brown has served as an adjunct professor at UNT and is principal of the Rosie M. Collins Sorrells School of Education and Social Services at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview

Visual Arts

John Huba

Versatile artist

Camp Bosworth (’89) has created wood sculptures on

two disparate subjects — narcos and Dairy Queen. His Narco Corridos pieces depict the drug lords along the Texas-Mexico border. And he re-creates the fast food chain’s products, from its ketchup packets to its dipped cone sundae. His work has been featured in exhibitions around the state. Bosworth lives in Marfa, where there are no narcos but plenty of hot fudge sundaes. Regardless of topic, his work carries a thread of humor. “I enjoy deep diving into a genre and exploring the cultural and socio-political implications of the topic,” he

says. “Fast food and the narcos both deal with their own kind of drug.”

Drawing attention A Sea of Love Photography

Magnet Center in Dallas ISD. She hopes the movie educates others and brings solutions. “All acts of giving back do not have to be vast in size, only purposeful,” she says. “One by one, we can empower others and change the world.”

Alli Koch (’14) has turned her doodles into a career. After an Instagram post of a canvas of her wedding vows captured her friends’ attention, she started selling her illustrations for weddings and other events. Now her artwork,

under the business name Alli K Design, can be seen in murals all over Dallas and is featured by businesses such as Fossil. She also is teaching others to illustrate through her books How to Draw Modern Florals and Florals by Hand. The marketing major and her father host a podcast, Breakfast with Sis, which is a recording of their weekly Saturday morning breakfast conversations. “My goal is to inspire others, so if I am able to achieve that either with a mural on the side of a building or my books, then I am happy,” she says.

‘Talk’ of the town Bryan Barnes (’10) andfrom Nedal Ahmed (’11) everything candy health insurance. Five illustrious alumni the College of sell Visual Arts andfrom Design hadtotheir artwork highlighted But recently, the advertising executives difficult issue of race a spotincalled “The of during the grand opening of UNT ArtSpacetackled Dallas. the CVAD’s newest gallery is in located the lobby Talk” — and it won Primetime Emmy Award for Best Commercial the renovated UNT the Systems Building at 1901 Main Street in Dallas. in September. In “The a two-minute adresidents for Procterof&Dallas Gamble, blackthe parents tell their “We areTalk,” excited to share with andgenerations surroundingofareas opportunity tochilview dren howfrom they UNT’s may face certain toughand situations because of theirof race. artworks talented faculty alumni,” says Director UNT Galleries Tracee Robertson. Paul McGeiver

“Togallery win anbrings award the for TV and film is so cool,” says Barnes, art director forand thethe advertising “This College of Visual Arts and Design closer to Dallas outlying agency commuBBDO. nities.”“To do it for a commercial that doesn’t have any products in it, just a message that helps society, is special.” The gallery officially opened in December but welcomed visitors from Denton, Dallas and surThe path to Barnes’ and Ahmed’s advertising careers began at UNT. Each took classes from rounding advertising Sheri Broyles. Barnes, who majored in communication with a minor areas for theprofessor grand opening, which featured the works of Shirin Askari (ʼ08), design a fashion alumna and in advertising, earned top portfolio in the College of Visual Arts and Design and other awards in former Broyles’ class, and Broyles nominated Ahmed Project Runway participant; Brian Fridge (ʼ94),for The American Advertising Federation’s Most Promising Minority Student Program, which included a visit to New York. of American Art in New whose videos are exhibited, among other places, at the Whitney Museum After graduation, Ahmed Barnes bothpaintings worked for DFW-based TracyLocke agency, then York; Howard Sherman (ʼ06 and M.F.A.), whose arethe exhibited internationally; Erick Swenson

Billy Siegrist

were at BBDO New York City.polyurethane They’ve created ads for M&Ms, other (ʼ99), hired a sculptor bestinknown for his resin sculptures of Humana animals;Insurance and Dana and Tanamachi companies. (ʼ07), known for her chalk lettering and work with Target and Nike. A trio of the College of Music’s For “The Talk,” Ahmedheaded relied on such Evans as worrying about excellent jazz musicians bypersonal graduateexperience, student Gabriel helped makeher theyounger eveningbrother. She flew to Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati to pitch it to the company’s execuspecial. tives. sheinformation, presented the script for the ad, she looked up to find many of them had tears in their eyes. For As more visit “The Talk” also won the Cannes Film Festival Film Grand Prix award. Ahmed and Barnes speak at UNT alumni nights when Broyles brings students to New York for a tour of advertising agencies. “The students are impressed by the success of the two alumni,” Broyles says. “It’s like, ‘Wow, maybe I can do that.’”

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Ahna Hubnik

G. Brint Ryan (’88, ’88 M.S.) spent his childhood in the hardscrabble West Texas oil town of Big Spring. Now a business mogul and chairman of the UNT System Board of Regents, he has gifted $30 million to the UNT College of Business to help transform the lives of students who yearn to soar high.


TRANSFORMATION by Erin Cristales


rowing up in Big Spring, G. Brint Ryan (’88, ’88 M.S.) never dreamed too big, especially since opportunity rarely meandered that far down Interstate 20. Views of a different life were obscured by the pump jacks that dotted the West Texas landscape, announcing the refinery that was the town’s biggest employer. Anyone who didn’t already work there assumed they one day would. So Ryan was already bucking expectation when he decided to join the ranks of the university-bound students among his graduating class of 260, many of whom were headed 100 miles further west to Lubbock. Why not go all in, he figured, and get the hell out of West Texas? In the fall of 1982, he slid behind the wheel of the 1979 tan Buick Regal his grandfather bought for him that summer and drove 291 miles to Denton. He arrived at North Texas State University with $300 in his pocket — “a fortune to me at the time,” he says — and a plan to major in English, thanks to a high school teacher who had nourished his love of reading and writing. Daily, new possibilities unfolded. He learned from professors like Horace Brock and Hershel Anderson — experts in accounting whose classes ultimately inspired Ryan to choose a career in accounting — and witnessed the thriving corporate culture of DFW, where polished businessmen strolled into glittering downtown skyscrapers and rode elevators to their penthouse offices. The boy who never conceived of living large now envisioned a future as bright and expansive as a West Texas sunrise.

“When I became cognizant of the opportunity, I was hungry,” says Ryan, who as a kid spent sweltering summer days digging postholes on his grandfather’s ranch — and nothing, he likes to remind those unfamiliar with the arid climate, will turn you into a college boy faster. “I mean I was really hungry.” Nearly 37 years after he first stepped foot on campus, Ryan has established himself as one of UNT’s most accomplished alumni. Though it’s impossible to quickly list the roles and achievements he’s racked up over the past three decades, the highlights say enough: founder, chairman and CEO of Dallas-based Ryan, a global tax services firm and software provider valued at $1.1 billion. Chairman of the UNT System Board of Regents. A Texas Monthly Top 25 Most Powerful People in Texas honoree. “I’m a living example of the power that education has to transform lives,” Ryan says. He has an affinity for the word “transformation,” and on an unseasonably warm February day, the term is omnipresent. As Ryan stands in the atrium of UNT’s Business Leadership Building, he’s surrounded by family, donors, university and UNT System administrators, faculty, staff and business students who, as he once was, are looking to unlock their potential. He’s here to provide a $30 million key.

Making history “Fanfare, it’s time to go,” says UNT President Neal Smatresk, who stands parallel to a strategically concealed banner affixed to the atrium’s brick wall. As the UNT brass quintet trails off,




Born in Big Spring

Begins studies at North Texas State University

Pledges Pi Kappa Alpha — international fraternity names him a Distinguished Alumnus in 1998

Michael Clements

“When I first came to North Texas, I had no idea where I was going and no idea how to get there. I was wild and undisciplined ... The signal I want to come from this gift is ‘Wow — if he can do it, anybody can do it.’” — G. Brint Ryan

Smatresk relays what until now was unknown to most of those gathered. “Today, it gives me incredible pleasure to announce the largest gift we have ever received in our university’s history,” he says. “Because of his generosity, Brint has agreed to present a gift of $30 million to the UNT College of Business.” Amidst loud applause and a smattering of “wows,” the banner unfurls to drive home a second revelation: The College of Business will now be known as the G. Brint Ryan College of Business. “To have someone step forward like the Ryans have is just amazing,” says Marilyn Wiley, dean of the College of Business. “To name the college is associating it with a person, and the business success Brint Ryan has had, starting with his accounting degree at UNT, is so amazing. It tells our students, ‘Look at the possibilities, look what you can become.’ It’s an opportunity that resonates.” The gift awarded by Ryan and his wife, Amanda, will create at least six endowed chairs and provide funding for strategic academic program initiatives over seven years. Among the areas of focus are taxation and tax research, entrepreneurship, finance, logistics, information technology, cybersecurity and behavioral accounting.

“Brint’s passion for UNT is much like his passion for cars — full speed ahead,” says Amanda, who served as Ryan’s chief financial officer before retiring to raise their five daughters. “Oftentimes, he will spout off some grandiose idea, and I’ll think to myself, ‘This will never happen.’ But Brint’s inspiring vision and persistent determination make the impossible possible, transforming his dreams into reality, which has resulted in some really great success stories.” The room is buzzing — there are handshakes and congratulations and speculation as to what this kind of money will ultimately do for the College of Business’ reputation and its nearly 5,800 students. Smatresk’s first reaction to hearing about the gift, he says, was, “Hallelujah.” “One of the things I know from my years in higher education is the margin of excellence in a program is a gift — a gift that changes lives, a gift that changes the trajectory of a college, a gift that keeps giving in the most positive way,” he says. One of the potential beneficiaries of Ryan’s gift is Michael Babich, currently working on his master’s in taxation, who sees Ryan as an example of what’s possible for students in the College of Business. “This is a person who everyone can look up




Graduates with a bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from UNT. Begins accounting career as a senior associate at Coopers & Lybrand (now Pricewaterhouse Coopers).

Launches Ryan LLC

Marries Amanda (Sutton) Ryan. The two are now parents to five daughters.

to — to achieve so much and then give back. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to use my degree to give back,” Babich says. “Our accounting department is already highly ranked against other universities in the state. Now that we can compete with universities with larger endowments, it’s going to be fantastic.” Of course, no one knows better than an accountant what $30 million can buy. That’s why Ryan has been crystal clear — whether from the stage, at the VIP reception or in casual conversation — as to what the gift is meant to accomplish. “The legacy’s nice, and I’m going to enjoy that with my family, but what’s really important is giving others like me the opportunity to do what I’ve done,” says Ryan, who at the end of the ceremony was handed a certificate of appreciation that also doubled as the first document bearing the G. Brint Ryan College of Business name. “I think this gift will be transformational, and I think it’s going to give others an even better foundation to work from than what I had.”

Risk and rewards One could argue that as a 27-year-old who had the wild idea of starting his own business, Ryan was a gleeful dismantler of solid foundations — a young man who traded in a steady paycheck as a senior associate at Coopers & Lybrand for the shaky proposition of launching a tax services firm no one was waiting for. “The fact that Ryan exists, frankly, is remarkable because we built this business in an industry where there were very large, entrenched competitors in the public accounting firms,” says Ryan, whose company focuses on corporate taxes. “We built it brick by brick, proving we were the better model.” The business opened its doors in July 1991 with two employees and a nondescript 800-square-foot office space off Midway Road. During those first few months, Ryan wondered nearly every day if he

1997 Named Alumnus of the Year by UNT’s Department of Accounting

should ask for his old job back — there was almost no revenue coming in, and he had to charge office supplies to his personal credit card. The team was, as he puts it, working without a net. “We were barely keeping the lights on,” Ryan says. “It wasn’t until November of that year that we got our first big result for a client — a $300,000 savings on a franchise tax case that netted us a $65,000 fee. It was more money than I had ever seen in my life.” After that, he never looked back.

The measure of greatness “There’s nothing more rewarding than being in the position where everybody’s told you that you can’t do it, and then, when you’ve succeeded, their heads are spinning trying to figure it out.” The Dallas cityscape — visible from the floorto-ceiling windows that enclose Ryan’s penthouse office on the 26th floor of Three Galleria Tower — serves as a picture-perfect backdrop for his message: Don’t stop, and you’ll eventually find a path forward. After all, his is quite literally a view from the top, and it was a scramble to get there. One of the reasons he loves UNT so much, he says, is that he feels a kinship with its gritty persona: a university filled with determined bootstrappers who consistently find a way to defy expectations. “UNT is a place where kids come who may not have had every advantage in life,” Ryan says. “But we take that raw material and convert it into something that becomes successful and powerful and helps move our society forward.” As his company took off — Ryan’s more than 2,600 professionals and associates currently serve over 14,000 clients in more than 50 countries — Ryan saw his clout significantly broaden. But his childhood taught him that money and power aren’t the only markers of success, and certainly not of happiness. What he decided to do with his newfound influence — now that would be the true measure of greatness.

Gift Timeline The $30M gift will create at least six endowed chairs and provide funding for academic program initiatives over a seven-year schedule. The gift’s initiatives will be aimed at increasing the reputation, prestige and ranking of the G. Brint Ryan College of Business. The areas of focus will include:

Year 1: $6M $6M for three $2M endowed chairs • Taxation and Tax Research • Entrepreneurship • Finance

Year 2: $4M $2M for one $2M endowed chair • Logistics $2M for strategic program initiatives

Year 3: $4M $2M for one $2M endowed chair • Information Technology and Cybersecurity $2M for strategic program initiatives

Year 4: $4M $2M for one $2M endowed chair • Behavioral Accounting $2M for strategic program initiatives

Years 5-7: $12M $4M each year for strategic program initiatives




Joins UNT’s College of Business Advisory Board, where he serves until 2009

Forms Settles Hotel Development Co. to acquire and restore the historic Settles Hotel in Big Spring

Appointed to the UNT System Board of Regents by Gov. Rick Perry, and named chairman in 2013. He was reappointed by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2015.

ONLINE EXTRAS • Listen to Ryan discuss his childhood in Big Spring, experiences at UNT, qualities as a leader and tips for success. • Check out our full coverage of the Feb. 4 gift announcement, including photos and video. • Watch UNT President Neal Smatresk, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Jerry Jones and more discuss Ryan’s impact on the UNT community in a video for his 2017 Wings of Eagles Presidential Award win.

Advocating for change

“UNT is a place where kids come who may not have had every advantage in life. But we take that raw material and convert it into something that becomes successful and powerful and helps move our society forward.” — G. Brint Ryan

The historic Hotel Settles in Big Spring — which, for a brief time in the 1930s, stood as the tallest building between Fort Worth and El Paso — closed its doors in 1980, two years before Ryan hightailed it to North Texas State. In 2006, he decided it was time to polish the oncesparkling West Texas gem, leading to a $31 million renovation. The hotel’s return to grandeur garnered Big Spring some much-needed attention, including a feature about the town’s history in a March 2013 issue of Texas Monthly. “I got this crazy idea that we could restore the hotel as a gift to the city,” says Ryan who, when the hotel officially reopened in late 2012, placed a portrait of his late mother, Virginia, above the landing of its grand staircase. “Now, downtown Big Spring is no longer dilapidated and abandoned with tumbleweeds blowing through it. We started out trying to do right, and it’s worked out really well.” Closer to home, Ryan set his sights on providing up-and-coming accounting students with opportunities to learn the ropes. Ginny Kissling (’95, ’95 M.S.) was a senior at UNT when she began her internship with Ryan in May of 1992, eventually signing on as the firm’s seventh employee. “Everybody always worked together for a common cause — to help our clients and bring value to the organization,” says Kissling, who is now the company’s chief operating officer. “We’re still the same company today, despite having many more people on a global scale. It’s funny thinking about how far we’ve come, and how all of Brint’s plans

2011 Named one of the Top 25 Most Powerful People in Texas by Texas Monthly

came true. He’s always been someone who leads by example — even today, he’ll still roll up his sleeves and get in the trenches to help the team.” Ryan also wanted to encourage social responsibility among his employees, which led to The Ryan Foundation in 2011. The foundation addresses health, education needs and poverty, supporting key beneficiaries such as the American Heart Association, Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as well as providing assistance to employees in need at Ryan. Additionally, he and Amanda advocate for organizations such as Communities in Schools of the Dallas Region, Caring for Children Foundation of Texas, Friends of Wednesday’s Child and Camp Sweeney for Juvenile Diabetes. And then there’s Ryan’s unwavering dedication to UNT. He’s donated to athletics, university galas and scholarship funds, including a $1 million gift to the Department of Accounting in 2007. His company also is a presenting sponsor of UNT’s Kuehne Speaker Series, which raises money for student scholarships. It’s little wonder, then, that Ryan received UNT’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009 and the Wings of Eagles Presidential Award in 2017. Not only has he made a difference through philanthropy, but also as chairman of the Board of Regents, a position to which he was named in 2013. Since that time, he’s overseen the addition of a law school at UNT Dallas, the UNT Health Science Center’s partnership with Texas Christian University, and new construction, programs and leadership at the flagship campus.

2015 Named one of Dallas’ 500 Most Influential Business Leaders by D CEO magazine — also makes the list in 2016 and 2017

2017 Wins UNT’s Wings of Eagles Presidential Award

“We have taken UNT from being the best-kept secret in higher education to becoming a phenomenon in the region,” Ryan says. “We’re going to continue to be a force in this region and throughout the world.”

Ryan with his younger sister Natalie and their dog, Toby T. Tobias. Ryan is the oldest of his siblings, who also include Kris Ryan and Kory Ryan. “I had a great childhood growing up in Big Spring,” Ryan says. “I had two loving parents. In many respects, it was idyllic.”

A generational shift Ryan’s dad, George Alden Ryan, spent most of his career at the East Vealmoor Gas Plant, a job whose main joy consisted of putting food on the table. So when his son told him he might defer his start at North Texas State until his girlfriend graduated from Big Spring High, the elder Ryan’s response was straight to the point: “Hell no.” “It was ‘go to college or get a job at the refinery,’” Ryan says. “And that wasn’t a hard choice.” Though he had no degree of his own, George clearly saw that a university education could alter the course of his son’s future. Ryan takes his father’s vision a step further: He believes in education as the great equalizer, a path to transforming not just individual lives but entire generations. His daughters have no interest in the tax business — “They think all dad does is sit behind a computer and talk on the phone all day,” he laughs — but they will follow in his footsteps in one regard: pursuing a career not out of financial necessity, but because it’s their calling. “I can just hear him telling our daughters now, ‘Girls, sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed,’ which is what he also stresses to young professionals just beginning their careers,” Amanda says. “Brint not only talks the talk, he walks the walk when it comes to supporting UNT. With this gift and the renaming of the College of Business, we want each student who walks through these doors to walk out with the knowledge, determination and grit to succeed in life — just like Brint.” Ryan acknowledges the journey can seem impossible at times — he’s been there. But the important thing, he says, is to stick with it. “When I first came to North Texas, I had no idea where I was going and no idea how to get there,” he says. “I was wild and undisciplined, and frankly more suited for the ranches of West Texas than I was for the halls of academia. I came here with a lot of growing up to do, and it happened right here on this campus. The signal I want to come from this gift is ‘Wow — if he can do it, anybody can do it.’”

20 1 8


Receives Dallas Business Journal’’s Most Admired CEO Award and the Readers’ Choice Award. Ryan receives a $317 million investment from Onex Corp., pushing it into the elite ranks of companies valued at more than $1 billion.

Gifts $30 million to name the College of Business, now known as the G. Brint Ryan College of Business

His mother Virginia and father George with Ryan after his UNT graduation ceremony in 1988. Ryan was inspired to pursue a career in accounting after taking classes from professors Horace Brock and Hershel Anderson. “Once I went through that first accounting class, I fell in love with it,” Ryan says. “I thought it was going to be easy the whole way out. Boy, was I wrong.”

Ryan, Amanda and three of their five daughters – Annabelle, Victoria and Mary Rae – stand next to the certificate of appreciation that was awarded to Ryan on Feb. 4. The couple’s two oldest daughters are Beth, a freshman at Notre Dame, and Sarah, a high school senior.

Ryan and Amanda with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed Ryan to the UNT System Board of Regents in 2009.


Michael Clements


Innovating Together

UNT researchers join forces to use their combined expertise to fuel discoveries that are changing the shape of industries and our world.


UNT’s recent reaffirmation as a Carnegie-ranked Tier One research university (see back cover) is a testament to the university’s commitment to discovering solutions to the challenges of the 21st century — and UNT has made significant strides. In just the last year, UNT has acquired six patents, has executed several licenses and is currently negotiating more agreements. UNT faculty continue to cross the bounds of disciplines by utilizing a solutions-focused thought process that involves the in-depth consideration of future problems. Through group activity, they’ve been able to drive innovation to propel industry and society forward. “By working together, UNT is challenging what is known — and what is possible,” says Michael Rondelli, UNT’s associate vice president for innovation and commercialization. “We are bringing disparate techniques together and looking at things from many Read UNT Research magazine angles, both inside and outside the box. This allows for the at creation of new ideas, new information and new solutions.”


No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

DISCOVERY THROUGH COLLABORATION In the 2018 edition of UNT Research magazine, learn about how UNT’s researchers are working together across disciplines with other universities and partners to make new discoveries. From manufacturing new materials and bio-engineering new plants to exploring the effects of air pollutants on health and finding ways to mitigate human suffering and economic loss from disasters, they’re creating solutions that will improve our world and sustain the future.

MANUFACTURING THE FUTURE UNT researchers are leading the way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution — the fusion of manufacturing design, process and production — to transform how industries engineer new materials and devices. Learn how researchers are probing the possibilities of additive manufacturing through UNT’s highly advanced Additive Manufacturing Laboratory — located in the new Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing — which is helping to move Texas further along in advancing technologies and meeting the growing demands for additive manufacturing of advanced materials.

INNOVATIVE SPACES UNT is committed to continually improving facilities that enable faculty, students and external research partners to conduct high-level, solutions-based research in key areas. Recent building and renovation projects include a new Biomedical Engineering Building at Discovery Park, left, a new Genomics Center and an addition to the Art Building to reinforce the university’s academic and research efforts.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Zikra Toure (’16, ’17 M.S.)

From artificial intelligence to additive manufacturing to autonomous vehicles, engineering alumni are leading the way in



digital worlds. | | S p r i n g

No r t h Texa n


Ahna Hubnik

fusing our physical and

Fourth Industrial



by Amy Brundeen

Your new car is making a funny noise again, so you call your dealership. Rather than speaking to a computer, you are transferred to a live, friendly representative who helps you set up an appointment with the service department. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the call was routed to the agent who has provided you with the best service in the past. You hang up the phone smiling, and the customer service agent does, too. In fact, she smiled throughout the entire call because facial recognition software alerted her when she wasn’t, providing gentle reminders of the importance of sounding friendly. Zikra Toure (’16, ’17 M.S.), who earned two degrees in electrical engineering from UNT, is a machine learning engineer at Dallas-based Call Box. She uses machine learning — in which computer algorithms become more accurate without being explicitly programmed — to develop the advanced facial recognition technology that makes enhanced customer service interactions like these possible. “What truly excites me about AI and machine learning is their potential to overlap with any industry,” Toure says. “A doctor, real estate agent, stockbroker or plumber can all make use of machine learning to make their work better, because they all have some sort of data to work with.” Toure is one of many UNT College of Engineering alums who are on the frontlines of what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Like the three that preceded it — steam, electricity and digital — the Fourth Industrial Revolution is radically changing the way humans live and work. The fusion of artificial intelligence with emerging technology like robotics, additive manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, fifth-generation wireless technologies, and power generation, storage and distribution is a catalyst for unprecedented change.

Driving better human interaction Call Box integrates artificial intelligence into its product to reduce inefficiencies in phone handling processes, which in turn saves money for the companies it serves. Its facial recognition software goes beyond simple identification to reading actual facial expressions. “It’s really important that customer service agents smile when they call — customers can tell,” Toure says. “We’ve coined it ‘call tracking,’ but it is way more than that. It really helps in places like call centers where there are hundreds of employees. Human monitoring of all the calls is difficult.” Toure brought her UNT research experience in neural networks and image processing to her work at Call Box. As a student, she also was involved in the Society of Women Engineers and served as president of the Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Ahna Hubnik

smooth satellite communications. “We create the software and also develop algorithms to optimize the satellite communication systems’ efficiency, reduce possible human error and decrease downtime,” Pineda says. “It’s important to incorporate processes for those who are new to the industry, especially from a security perspective.” Pineda’s work takes him all over the world meeting with his team and installing the software for satellite Earth systems. “Delivering cutting-edge technology allows more people worldwide to have satellite communication services,” he says.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society. She says she wants to learn all she can and use artificial intelligence to help others, including those in her home country of Mali in Africa. “I want to one day go back as a consultant to help different businesses incorporate AI and machine learning into their work,” she says, “so they, too, can become part of this big, cutting-edge industry.”

Solving big problems Like Toure, Juan Pineda Aguirre (’15) was a member of UNT’s IEEE Computer Society as a student, where he collaborated in building a first-prize autonomous robot for a robotics competition. He credits the project and others, along with the professors who assigned them, for his success as a systems engineer at General Dynamics in Plano, where he creates software to control satellite communications. “Engineering helps you develop how to think,” Pineda says. “It’s about finding solutions to problems.” At General Dynamics, Pineda solves problems for international companies and governments that develop mission systems for those receiving and routing communications from Earth to satellites. Today’s satellite communications are crucial in any industry, and ubiquitous and increasingly fast connectivity worldwide is critical to the innovations of the future. Autonomous vehicles, machine learning and artificial intelligence all depend on



No r t h Texa n


Manufacturing the future Also driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution is additive manufacturing, in which custom parts can be made in one piece in their final shape and size through 3D printing, with metals and alloys providing superior performance and easier customization. Using this process, materials science engineers like Peeyush Nandwana (’13 Ph.D.) develop new materials that allow for stronger, lighter and more affordable parts in areas ranging from the aerospace and automotive industries to biotechnology. As a staff researcher at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Nandwana conducts research to solve obstacles related to increasing energy efficiency and |

Spring 2019

America’s manufacturing competitiveness. “With 3D printing, materials do not behave the same way they would in traditional manufacturing because of the high solidification rates and complex thermal cycles involved,” he says. “And the performance and longevity of metallic parts used in aerospace or in medical implants is critical.” Part of Nandwana’s work is in materials characterization, which involves looking at the structure and properties of the 3D-printed metals and how they change at the atomic level during the manufacturing process. “We are working to develop alloys that are more suitable for the solidification conditions during additive manufacturing,” he says. Nandwana completed his Ph.D. research under Rajarshi Banerjee, Regents Professor of materials science and engineering and director of UNT’s Materials Research Facility. “Based on my professional experience and what is needed in materials science, UNT’s facility will provide students with exposure to this emerging interdisciplinary field,” Nandwana says. “Often projects require people working together from robotics, mechanical engineering and materials science. This cross-talk helps students gain insights in other fields, promotes lateral thinking and generates new ideas.”

Oak Ridge National Lab; U.S. Dept. of Energy, Carols Jones

Peeyush Nandwana (’13 Ph.D.)

Juan Pineda Aguirre (’15)

A D D I T I V E M A N U FA C T U R I N G L A B O R AT O R Y Additive manufacturing is capable of producing higher -strength and more energy-efficient materials while reducing the actual amount of materials needed, wear and tear on parts and use of natural resources. At UNT, researchers are exploring the possibilities of additive manufacturing using Suhas Chandrasekhar

Samu Chakki (’12 M.S.)

the newly established and highly advanced Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (AML), which opened its doors in November. The lab, the brainchild of Narendra Dahotre, UNT’s interim vice president for research and innovation, is located

Disruptive technology

adjacent to the Materials Research Facility in UNT’s Discovery

Samu Chakki (’12 M.S.) is a senior hardware engineer at Tesla in Palo Alto, California, known for its disruptive technology and business model for electric vehicles and clean energy products. “Tesla has and will continue to challenge and redefine previously held paradigms,” says Chakki, who works on the autopilot system for Tesla’s all-electric vehicles. Chakki helped profile and validate the silicon power and thermal characteristics for Tesla’s autopilot hardware platform. Working at Tesla gives her the opportunity to push boundaries, something she says she first experienced as a student. “I had the opportunity to explore different areas in electrical engineering as well as physics at UNT, and there was a strong sense of community that helped me grow,” she says. Last year, Chakki served on the College of Engineering’s IEEE Industry Advisory Board because she says her professors made a big impact on her and she wants to pay it forward. “This is why I keep in touch and give back,” she says. She adds that being an integral part of Tesla’s mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” has been a rewarding experience. “Helping to engineer the solutions for tomorrow is exhilarating,” Chakki says. “I’m getting to build something that will change life as we know it today.”

Park, the North Texas region’s largest research park. “The two distinct laser-based additive manufacturing systems at UNT’s AML allow for a range of activities including fundamental research in manufacturing science and applied research and development in manufacturing engineering,” Dahotre says. “Additive manufacturing has broad impacts on our society and the potential to transform a wide variety of industries — from the oil fields to operating rooms.” UNT is one of the few universities in the nation with this configuration across fields to better advance the science and application of additive manufacturing. The lab is one of the key assets being leveraged in UNT’s new Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing (CAAAM), which is being established to move Texas further along in advancing additive manu­facturing technologies and meeting the growing demands for additive manu­facturing of high-performance and func­tionally efficient advanced materials. “By providing students and researchers with tools needed in not just additive manufacturing but materials science and general engineering, UNT is creating the next generation of investigators who will help bring about the next stage in the industrial revolution,” says Rajarshi Banerjee, Regents Professor and director of UNT’s Materials Research Facility.

Learn more about UNT’s Additive Manufacturing Laboratory in the Materials Research Facility at Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


Michael Clements

Major milestones In a season full of successes, the Mean Green team reaches some impressive benchmarks.

Visit for updates.



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

In a season that included Conference USA’s new bonus play format — grouping teams by standings in the final weeks so the top teams can play each other — the Mean Green men’s basketball team racked up several impressive accomplishments. The 16-1 start to the season was the best in school history, and the Mean Green tied the school record for the fastest to 20 wins — 24 games. The average attendance for games at the Super Pit was 3,494, the best for a men’s basketball team since 2010-11. In the team’s game against Florida International on Feb. 16, UNT’s Umoja Gibson set the school record for most three-pointers in a season by a freshman with his 78th of the year. In the game against Western Kentucky Feb. 9, junior Ryan Woolridge (pictured above) became just the 22nd player at UNT to score 1,000 points in his career and junior Roosevelt Smart became the 23rd in the final regular season game against FIU March 9. The team then headed into the C-USA championship tournament at The Star in Frisco.

Alums join football coaching staff Former Mean Green and NFL running back Patrick Cobbs (pictured at left) was named the Mean Green’s running backs coach, and former Mean Green defensive lineman Clay Jennings (right) was named cornerbacks coach, head coach Seth Littrell announced in February. Cobbs (’05), who joins the Mean Green staff following five seasons as the running backs coach at Denton Ryan High School, learned under coaching legends Bill Belichick and Nick Saban during his six-year NFL career with the New England Patriots and Miami Michael Clements

Dolphins. In 2010, Cobbs was inducted into the UNT Athletics Hall of Fame and in 2013 was named to the UNT All-Century Football Team. He earned the national rushing title with the Mean Green in 2003. One of the top secondary coaches in the country, Jennings (’96) returns to Denton after spending the 2018 season as the defensive backs coach at Texas Tech. Prior to his arrival in Lubbock, he spent the 2017 season as the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of Houston. He also has previous stops in the Big 12 Conference with Baylor, TCU and Texas. In addition to Cobbs and Jennings, Eastern Washington’s Bodie Reeder joins the Mean Green as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

The 2019 Mean Green football schedule has been released. Check out the upcoming game dates and opponents — six of which are from Texas — and get updates on all Mean Green teams at

Empowering female athletes

Conference USA championship, its highest placing since entering C-USA. The team set The UNT softball team’s win over six new school records at the championship Northwestern State in mid-February and qualified for nationals in the 200-yard capped a 4-0 record for UNT in the 2019 medley relay and the 800-yard freestyle Mean Green Classic, just one of many accomplishments the team racked up under relay. Roth was named co-Coach of the Year. In tennis, a healthy round of wins this new head coach Rodney DeLong heading season has included a 4-0 victory over into conference play. Arizona. Maria Kononova and Tamuna The Mean Green faced a difficult early schedule with five games against opponents Kutubidze earned a program-record No. 19 ranked in the top 20. UNT defeated No. 20 national doubles ranking in February from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Texas A&M and No. 10 Louisiana-LafayAnd the track and field team made ette — the first time in program history the Mean Green has defeated two top-20 teams history this indoor season with seven school records broken — in the pole vault, 60in the same season. meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, weight throw, 5,000-meter run, shot put and Mean Green teams grab victory UNT’s swimming and diving team com- 4x400-meter relay. The team began the outpleted its best season ever under head coach door season in March and hosts the North Texas Classic on April 6. Brittany Roth and finished third at the Softball starts season strong

Spring 2019

In honor of the 33rd annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), UNT athletics hosted several hundred middle school girls Feb. 2 to give them the opportunity to learn about Mean Green sports. NGWSD empowers women and girls to get moving, reap the benefits of physical activity and push past their limits both in sports and in life. Before the Mean Green women’s basketball team defeated Charlotte in the Super Pit, the girls interacted with several UNT student-athletes. Following the UNT win, head coach Jalie Mitchell (’02) and players Callie Owens and Charlene Shepherd hosted a Q&A with the attendees. |



No r t h Texa n





Brady Burns

There’s a saying in UNT’s Division of Student Affairs: You cannot learn if you are hungry. Guided by that mantra and a mission to create an on-campus food source for students in need, the Dean of Students Office established the UNT Food Pantry in 2015. Thanks to the Diamond Eagles Society — a group of nearly 100 donors whose combined gifts allow for a larger impact on campus initiatives — it’s about to get even easier for the division to support hungry students, as well as those who need help obtaining professional clothing and graduation regalia. The giving society has voted to invest $90,000 in a project called “Students of Need: Suit Up, Fuel Up, Cap Up.” The gift will enable the student affairs division to create a centralized location in Crumley Hall for three existing programs: the food pantry, Suit Up and Mean Green Gowns for Grads. Along with modernizing operations, the project will better allow students who face food insecurity or can’t afford professional clothing or graduation regalia to have their needs met with discretion. “We know the number of students impacted by food insecurity, homelessness and other financial obstacles continues to grow,” says Maureen McGuinness, dean of students and

The Career Center’s spring 2019 Suit Up in February enabled 990 students to select and keep more than 2,300 professional and business casual clothing items and accessories donated by UNT faculty and staff and employers/businesses. Thanks to funding from the UNT Diamond Eagles Giving Society, Suit Up — as part of the “Students of Need: Suit Up, Fuel Up, Cap Up” initiative — will have a permanent location in Crumley Hall, with dedicated fitting rooms and the ability to loan professional clothing year-round. assistant vice president for student affairs. “This project and its funding show how the UNT community is committed to supporting students and their success.” The Suit Up, Fuel Up, Cap Up project is an investment in UNT students that will bolster their futures and foster excellence. “We believe that no student should have to go hungry,” says Elizabeth With, vice president for student affairs. “And every student deserves the chance to walk across the stage at graduation and land a great job.” Every year, members of the Diamond

Eagles Society make individual contributions of $1,000, then pool their gifts to fund a high-impact campus project determined by a member majority vote. “Now in their second year, the Diamond Eagles continue to effect positive change,” says David Wolf, vice president for university advancement. “They’re motivated and determined to make a tangible, lasting impact on campus.” For information on how you can donate to the food pantry, Suit Up and Mean Green Gowns for Grads, visit

To learn more about the Diamond Eagles, or to join in time to participate in next year’s project selection, visit 44


No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019



Check out alumni gatherings and events page 47

Ahna Hubnik

A VOICE OF ACCEPTANCE After a near-fatal car accident, alum learns life-changing lessons — and spreads kindness through ventriloquism.

Read the full story of Lee’s road to recovery and check out videos of his characters and his latest show at

AS HE TRIED TO POWER THROUGH HIS TIME in the hospital following a near-fatal car wreck, Dennis Lee (’86) wasn’t sure he would ever heal enough to return to the stage. The ventriloquist behind the beloved Nana Puddin’ puppet, Lee had spent his career extolling the importance of acceptance and faith — and now he found himself needing to heed his own advice. To combat his restlessness, Lee’s dad brought him markers, with which Lee drew black-and-white sketches of jungle animals. Following his recovery, those happy etchings became the backdrop for his current show, “The Great Jungle Jam.” “The show is all about bringing the color,” says Lee, who projects polychromatic lights onto the black-and-white backdrops. “Not the color of your skin or clothing or eyes, but what’s great about you. Everybody has something.” Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n






Keep up with the latest developments in the UNT family and tell your peers what you’ve been up to since leaving the nest. Send your news to The North Texan (see contact information on page 4). Members of the UNT Alumni Association are designated with a . Read more, share comments and connect with friends

Sarah Hamilton (‘11) Photography



1965 Harvey Solganick (’68 M.Ed.),

Dallas :: has written the book Lessons from C. S. Lewis (Archway Publishing), examining the works of the philosopher and author of the Narnia books from an evangelical Christian perspective. He is a senior professor of humanities and philosophy at L.R. Scarborough College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He also serves as an adjunct professor at LeTourneau University, Dallas Baptist University, Criswell College and Richland College.


Teachers at Silver Lake Elementary School in GrapevineColleyville ISD represented UNT as a way to recruit students on National College Colors Day, which took place Aug. 31. They are (from left) Leonor Morales (’09), Tovah Rasoi (’13), Becky Sporrer (’99), Hannah Flanagan (’14) and Alyssa Wendt (’17).

1955 Theodore Vestal, Tulsa, Okla.

:: received the Knight Grand

Cross of the Imperial Order of the Star of Honor of Ethiopia at an official ceremony in Washington, D.C. The Crown Council recognized him for his lifetime of service to Ethiopia, including his book The Lion of Judah in the New World: Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the Shaping of



No r t h Texa n


Americans’ Attitudes Toward Africa and his work with the Peace Corps. “I am honored beyond belief by the Crown Council’s action,” he says. “The Star of Honor of Ethiopia is a wonderful capstone to my many happy years of work in the academy and government service.” His wife,

Patricia Botefuhr Vestal (’55), taught painting at Haile Selassie I University during their time in the Peace Corps.


Spring 2019

Edgar Moore, Houston :: is Distinguished Professor of Music at San Jacinto College North, where he has taught since 1993. After graduation, he became a professional singer, performing with many opera companies, including Santa Fe Opera, Fort Worth Opera and Houston Grand Opera, for nearly 30 years. He received two master’s degrees in music from the University of Houston. Bob Ray Sanders, Fort Worth :: was

inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. His career began as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-

Telegram, where he was one of the first three African American reporters. He then worked as a reporter and vice president/station manager at KERA-TV from 1972 to 1986. From 1986 to 2015, he again worked for the Star-Telegram.

1970 Mickey Burnim (’72 M.A.) Adelphi, Md.

:: served as

interim president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He previously served as president of Bowie State University, as chancellor of Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C., and as provost and vice president for academic affairs at North Carolina Central University. He was North Texas’ first African American student senate president, first African American member of Talons, and one of the first African American residents of West Hall, the first men’s dorm to be desegregated. He also was vice president of USNT and president of his junior class.

1971 Matt Jaremko (’76 Ph.D.),

Dallas :: has co-written the book Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt (Ayni Books/John Hunt Publishing), published in December. Matt, who has 35 years of clinical experience as a psychologist, co-wrote the book

with Beth Fehlbaum, a patient who survived childhood sexual abuse. The book is a fictionalized account of their collaboration and explains the cognitive-behavioral science of PTSD and its treatment.

1973 Mary Wahle Balch, Burleson

:: who retired from Everman ISD after 44 years of teaching, now works as a district dyslexia specialist. She previously worked 26 years as a classroom teacher, 12 years as an instructional specialist and six years as an interventionist for elementary students and teachers. At North Texas, she was a member of Kappa Delta Gamma. Her favorite campus memory was going to the library to study. “The dorm wasn’t the best place to study, although I had to type reports there so I could plug in my electric typewriter,” she says. “It’s been awhile!” Robert P. ‘Bob’ Brotherton,

Maurice Fortin (’78 M.A, ’82 M.L.S., ’00 Ph.D.), San

Angelo :: has retired as executive

director of library services at Angelo State University. He served in various positions at UNT Libraries for 15 years before joining ASU in 1996. He has given more than 50 historical and educational presentations throughout Texas, contributed to five books and published more than two dozen articles and reviews in industry journals.

1975 Henry O. Adkins (M.P.A.),

Plano :: published a new book in

his Common Sense series, Common Sense Grand Parents. He was a director of social services for the city of Dallas and a professor of political science and director of community services for Dallas County Community College District before retiring in 2004. He is the father of Angela Adkins-Downes, professor of practice and assistant director of experiential education at the UNT Dallas College of Law.

Wichita Falls

:: retired in December as judge of the 30th District Court after almost 30 years on the bench. A courtroom in the Arthur R. Tipps Juvenile Justice Center was named in his honor. He previously was an associate municipal judge, lawyer and assistant district attorney for Wichita County. At UNT, he was a member of Delta Sigma Pi, the Marketing Club and the Council of Business Students.

Noble Crawford, Fort Worth :: is co-founder of H.O.P.E. Farm Inc. (HFI), which has served more than 250 at-risk boys and their mothers since 1989. The program provides activities including an academic program, summer camp and Kids Café. He also served in the U.S. Air Force and is a retired Texas Department of Public Safety criminal investigator.

Upcoming Alumni Gatherings Many exciting events are planned for alumni to reunite and celebrate UNT: Spring alumni mixers: The UNT Alumni Association has scheduled spring mixers, where alumni can meet and mingle at various restaurants throughout the North Texas region. The Dallas County Chapter will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. March 29 at Vidorra in Dallas; the Tarrant County Chapter will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. April 5 at HG Sply Co. in Fort Worth; the Denton County Chapter will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. April 11 at Craft and Vine in Roanoke; and the Collin County Chapter will meet from 6 to 8:30 p.m. April 19 at Haywire in Plano; and the San Antonio Chapter will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. April 18 at Hotel Emma in downtown San Antonio. For more details, visit Houston presidential celebration: Join the Houston Chapter of the UNT Alumni Association for an elegant evening of UNT pride at one of the city’s landmark hotels, where alumni can connect to their Mean Green network. The chapter will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. April 4 at The Houstonian. For more information, visit UNT Big Event: Students, faculty, staff and alumni are welcome to participate in this nationally recognized day of service in which thousands of Eagles join together to help the Denton County community through volunteer work. This year’s event is set for April 6, and volunteers can meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Onstead Promenade for a breakfast and kick-off before departing for their service sites at 9 a.m. Work will conclude at 2 p.m. For more information, visit UNT Ring Ceremony: It’s time to celebrate Mean Green pride at the official UNT Ring Ceremony, which will take place May 3 at the Union South Lawn and Library Mall. Participants with last names A-N will start the ceremony at 5 p.m., and those with last names M-Z will begin at 7 p.m. The event is invitation-only for students who have purchased their rings in advance. To participate, students must have purchased their rings through Jostens, the official UNT Alumni Association ring partner. Happy hour: UNT College of Business alumni are invited to mix and mingle at the Eagle Business Network Happy Hour from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 16 at Del Frisco’s Southlake. Tickets are $10, which includes appetizers. For more information or to register, visit Honors College Alumni Facebook page: Join UNT’s Honors College Alumni Facebook page to connect with fellow alumni, and learn about networking opportunities, local gatherings, upcoming events and more. Jumpstart your career: UNT’s Career Center is offering individual career advising appointments to students and alumni throughout the year. The Career Center can help with career exploration, resume and cover letter writing, interviewing and job search strategies. The center’s online job posting system, Eagle Careers, provides students and alumni with access to part-time and full-time employment opportunities and information on upcoming events. For information, visit career-center.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n



Nest Jim Schaeffer, New York, N.Y.

Ranjani Groth

:: retired as artistic and general

Feeding entrepreneurial dreams On the final day of his 25-year career in finance, Seth Morgan (’93) texted his longtime friend Mike Barnett (’92) a photo of Mel Gibson delivering his iconic pre-battle speech in Braveheart. The caption, of course: “FREEDOM!” Barnett chuckled knowingly at the message from inside Denton County Brewing Co., where he was serving as the operation’s eyes and ears until Morgan declared his William Wallace-esque exit from the corporate world. Nearly two decades earlier, he had similarly come to the realization that he wasn’t cut out for life behind a desk. “One day on the way to work, I wrecked my brand-new car,” Barnett says. “I wasn’t even bummed about it because that meant I didn’t have to go into the office.” In the nearly 40 years since their friendship was forged as fourth graders at Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Morgan and Barnett have seen each other through graduations, relocations, weddings and parenthood. Now they have come to rely on each other to tackle one of their most unexpected, albeit enjoyable, endeavors: owning their own Denton businesses. Morgan and his wife, Jen (’98), officially opened the doors of Denton County Brewing Co., a craft beer brewery on McKinney Street, nearly two years ago. Barnett — who previously operated the Almost Famous pizza truck outside of DCBC and Pizza Guy, a pizza parlor in Boise, Idaho — recently acquired Denton County Independent Hamburger Co. after its original owner, Kim Kitchens, retired last year. “Growing up, I ate there at least once a week,” Barnett says. “I’ve always loved the product and the system, which is so simple and brilliant. I always thought, ‘This guy has it figured out.’” And while entrepreneurship is no easy task, both agree it’s the right fit. “I still feel like I’m on vacation,” Morgan says. “Like I’m on some sabbatical, and at any moment, someone’s going to pinch me and tell me I missed a conference call, and I have to shave and put a tie back on.”


— Erin Cristales


No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

director of the Center for Contemporary Opera, at which he had worked for 10 years. He previously was director of Long Leaf Opera in Raleigh, N.C., and has produced or developed more than 90 operas. He was a principal bassoonist for orchestras in the U.S. and England. Before his music career, Jim served as an Air Force senior officer and worked as a NATO liaison officer during the siege of Sarajevo. He also worked in the electronics industry and served as an adjunct professor in the business and philosophy departments at North Carolina Wesleyan College.

Diane Waghorne, Dallas :: was one of the recipients of the Dallas Business Journal’s 2018 Women in Business Awards. She was a stay-at-home mom who, while watching the coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, wondered why there wasn’t a product that could help those who worked at great heights escape to safety. In 2002, she founded Tech Safety Lines, which provides patented, third-party certified products that are now worn daily by employees who work on elevated platforms.

1977 Scot Miller, Dallas :: had his work featured in the exhibition Thoreau’s Travels, The Maine Woods to Cape Cod: A Journey in Photographs by Scot Miller in October at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth, Mass. He is a photographer,

videographer and author whose hobbies include hiking and wilderness backpacking.

1980 Jackie Lamar (M.M.E., ’86

D.M.A.), Conway, Ark. :: after a final recital at which she featured examples of her commissioned works, retired from the University of Central Arkansas after 32 years as professor of saxophone. She also taught at East Central Oklahoma University and Vernon Parish in Louisiana. She was the first person to complete the D.M.A. in saxophone at UNT. She is the daughter of Homer Brown (’53 M.M.E.).

1982 Belinda Clearman Bazinet,

Titus, Ala. :: retired in 2016 following a 34-year career in the U.S. Air Force. Her first assignment following commission­ ing was at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida as a Department of Defense spokeswoman for the space shuttle. Her last assignment was at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama as a project editor at Air University Press. She now works for the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs as a public information officer.

Julie Navar (’06 M.S.), Los

Angeles :: appeared on America’s Got Talent last summer as a member of Angel City Chorale, a choral organization with a mission of spreading diversity through music. She is an instructional

designer at CDG/Boeing. While at UNT, she was active in the Jazz Singers, Chapel Choir and theater productions, and was a KNTU radio announcer. She also was an instructional consultant for CLEAR from 2006 to 2008.

1984 Doug Renfro, Fort

Worth :: was inducted into the Specialty Food Association’s Hall of Fame. During his 26 years of working for his family’s business, he has overseen product develop­ment, managed the company’s co-packing business, and taken on

responsibilities ranging from legal to software to the purchasing of salt. Renfro Foods makes Mrs. Renfro’s salsas, sauces and relishes.

Brian Paul Ridenour, Garland

:: has worked in the Dallas County Community College District’s IT department since 2015 and worked for Electronic Data Systems/HP for 31 years. At UNT, he was a member of Campus Crusade for Christ, Delta Sigma Pi and the Union Fine Arts Group, and was a drummer for the Baptist Student Ministry. His favorite campus memory is meeting his future wife in the drive-through of the Burger King that was on Eagle at Avenue C.

at UNT, she was a member of Phi Alpha Theta.

1987 Jane Johansson (M.S., ’93

Ph.D.), Pryor, Okla. :: received the Founders Award from The American Civil War Museum for “excellence in the editing of primary source materials” for her book Albert C. Ellithorpe, the First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier. The book covers the writings of a Civil War Union army officer who served in a unique tri-racial military. She is a professor at Rogers State University and has taught at UNT, Tarrant County Community College and Northeastern Oklahoma State University. While

Krista Seddon (M.M.), Buffalo :: presented a yearlong lecture performance tour in Buffalo of jazz great Marian McPartland. Krista worked with McPartland for 10 years, transcribing her portraits of artists and co-publishing the book Marian McPartland Portraits, the Second Set. Krista, a pianist, is a lecture performance artist and director of ensembles at Trinity Episcopal Church of Buffalo and operates a private teaching studio. She is writing a method book on the jazz process for classically trained pianists and will offer workshops in October.

Formula for success Obia Ewah (’04) was a 26-year-old medical school student when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She paused her studies to focus on her health and family, making several changes along the way. She stopped using hair relaxers after reading a study linking chemical relaxers to an increase in fibroids. She also stopped using other hair products after realizing the ones she was using contained harmful ingredients, such as phthalates in fragrances, known endocrine disruptors. Then she had an idea. “I studied chemistry at UNT, and I’m going to create natural products for myself,” she says. Those products became OBIA Naturals — and they are now sold in stores such as CVS Pharmacy, JCPenney and Walmart and have been featured in Essence magazine. Ewah, who has been cancer-free for eight years, says her degree in biology and minor in chemistry helped her design the product line that uses non-toxic, vegan ingredients. After graduating from UNT, Ewah worked as a chemist for a few companies in Sederrick Raphiel

Dallas before earning a master’s in public health from UT Southwestern and attending the American University School of Medicine in St. John, Antigua. To create her first hair moisturizer, Ewah bought a cooktop to heat the oil, water and emulsifier needed to create a stable formula. Friends noticed her healthy hair and said they would pay for her products. So she got a business license, started producing a line that included curl hydration spray, curl enhancing custard and curl moisture cream, and soon after began to sell at trade shows and pop up events. Now OBIA Naturals, named not only after her but also her grandmother and great-grandmother, has products sold around the country. “Obia” is a common name in certain parts of Nigeria that means “first daughter.” She hopes to return to medical school someday, but in the meantime, she’s making a difference. Women, including those who have cancer, have told her how much the product has helped them. “Stories like that make it worth it,” she says.

— Jessica DeLeón Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n




1990 Glynna Christian, Menlo

Park, Calif. :: was appointed to

the board of trustees of NHPF, a not-for-profit real estate corporation that works to create affordable multifamily housing for lowincome families and seniors. She also serves as co-head of the Global Technology Transactions practice at Orrick law firm, where she advises on mergers and acquisitions, financing, public offerings, joint ventures and other strategic transactions. She has more than 20 years of experience counseling clients on emerging and transformative technology, communications, media and data transactions.

1991 Michelle EsperMartin,

Austin :: was


executive director of the Texas Governor’s Commission for Women, a government agency that provides outreach, education and research to improve women’s lives. She previously served in the trade and business development division of the Texas Department of Agriculture. Before working in state government, she had 20 years of experience at various Fortune 500 companies.

Gary D. Morrison (M.Ed.),

Wichita Falls :: retired and is now Professor Emeritus of radiologic sciences at Midwestern State University. He has worked as a radiologic technologist for 40 years, including 10 years for the critical care medicine department at the National Institutes of Health. He worked at Midwestern for the last 30 years. In 1998, he published the first online course at MSU and spearheaded the drive for online instruction campuswide. He took all of his UNT courses at Sheppard Air Force Base, where he was an instructor.

1992 Jeffrey Mixon, Houston :: after a brief career in mortgage and real estate where he achieved broker status, backpacked through Europe, worked as a head butler for Norwegian Cruise Lines America, and then returned to Texas and earned his associate degree in radiologic science from Houston Community College. He now practices radiography in and around Texas Medical Center. His memories of UNT include being a founding member and secretary of Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity and walking to the Flying Tomato for white sauce pizza.

Eric Persyn, Keller :: was named athletics director for Keller ISD. Since 1994, he has served in numerous positions within the district. He also was a teacher and coach at Everman High School. While at UNT, he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha and, in 1991, met his wife, Kelly (’91). The couple has been married for 24 years. She is a teacher in Keller ISD. One of Eric’s favorite UNT memories is when the Mean Green football team made the NCAA I-AA playoffs in 1988 and beat Texas Tech and Rice that season.


of the first in the nation to partner with all public schools in the parish to provide medical services to children through telehealth infrastructure, which involves a face-toface encounter and examination by the medical provider through a secured internet connection.

1994 Roland H. ‘Ron’ Duncan

(M.P.A.), Lewisville :: was pro-

moted to assistant vice president of contract administration at DFW International Airport. He has worked at the airport since 1995 as a contract administrator, senior contract administrator and contracts manager. In 2016, he received the Airport’s Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion award. He also is active in the DFW Metroplex chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing.

1995 Jonathan ‘Jon’ Black, Austin :: published his debut novel, Bel Nemeton (18th Wall Productions), which follows two narratives — the wizard Merlin’s adventures and a 21st century linguist’s attempts to locate Merlin’s treasure. “I’m proud to say that a lot of what I learned at UNT (in history, political science, anthropology and even languages) makes its way into the story,” he says.

Randy McKinney (M.P.A.), Zetas that pledged in the 1960s gathered at Darlene Hodges McNatt’s (’67) Three Bars Ranch in May to celebrate more than 50 years of sisterhood and friendship. Sandi Henning McRay Morgan (’67) and McNatt helped organize the event, and Paula Kee Robinson (’69) submitted the photo.



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

West Monroe, Ind. :: serves as

rural health clinic administrator at the Bienville Parish Hospital Service District No. 2 in Arcadia, La. It is the first in Louisiana and one

Leslie F. Halleck,

Dallas :: has written Gardening With Lights: The Complete Guide for

Matthew Mailman (D.M.A.), Oklahoma City, Okla. :: was

awarded the second-place prize in American Prize Conducting in the college/university opera division for 2016-17. Matthew has worked as professor of conducting in the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University since 1995 and has conducted 42 operas and musicals. He also serves as music director of the Oklahoma Youth Winds.

Freeman Moore (Ph.D.),

Flower Mound :: was elected

president of the National Cambridge Glass Collectors, a nonprofit focused on preservation and education. He recently retired from Raytheon after a successful career in software development.

Trey Taylor, Fayetteville, Ark.

:: is co-founder of Good Eats

Food Co., which launched four new flavors of baked beans, including Dr Pepper Baked Beans, at more than 2,600 Walmart stores. He previously worked as a member of marketing teams at Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Sonic Drive-In. At UNT, Trey worked for the University Program Council and was a member of the Professional Leadership Program. He says UNT helped him obtain a marketing internship that led to

full-time employment at graduation and to his becoming a small-business owner.

1996 Jennifer Coleman (M.S.),

Pflugerville :: wrote the children’s

book The Texas Nutcracker (Pelican Publishing), which retells the classic Nutcracker story with a Texas twist — such as bringing a Rattlesnake King and a Bluebonnet Fairy into the cast of characters. The idea came from her daughter, Caroline, who also is a Food Network Chopped Jr. champion. Jennifer is an elementary school librarian in Pflugerville ISD and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Rick Gomez, Dallas :: was promoted to vice president of human resources for AT&T Advertising and Analytics. He has worked for the company since graduating from UNT. Rick oversees talent acquisition and management, employee engagement, compensation and HR operations. While at UNT, he was a member of Delta Sigma Pi.

1998 Margaret Combs (M.F.A.),

Chicago :: began serving as the

director of education at Spark Montessori school in Chicago in the fall. Prior to this position, she taught full-time in the classroom for 17 years.

Michael Wright, Prosper :: was named vice president of client services at Alkami. After working

Courtesy of Wayne Maynard

Indoor Growers, a guide to growing plants using indoor lighting. She is a certified professional horticulturist with more than 25 years of experience in the gardening and landscaping industry. She runs the consultant firm, Halleck Horticultural LLC, working on residential and commercial projects.

Lofty ambitions When Wayne Maynard (’74) peered out of the cockpit as he flew over the Arctic for the first time, he was met with a “surreal, unspoiled beauty.” “It was like a view of another planet,” he says. Maynard got another glimpse of that incredible scenery July 28, when he completed his second flight to the North Pole to raise funds and awareness for Angel Flight South Central. Angel Flight South Central is a charity that provides free air transportation for medical needs, such as cancer treatments and surgeries. He first heard about the organization from fellow pilots in 2010 after his brother-in-law, Jack Bolton, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. “His treatment center was at MD Anderson in Houston,” says Maynard, who studied physics at UNT and currently works as senior vice president of investments at Merrill Lynch. “I suggested Angel Flight South Central to him to assist with transportation.” Maynard — who earned his private pilot’s license in 1967 and later earned a commercial license — made his first flight to the North Pole in 2010 in honor of Bolton, who passed away that same year. “I chose the North Pole as a destination because it created a dialogue,” Maynard says. “When I opened a conversation with friends and businesses about my proposed flight, the one-word response always started with a W: either ‘Wow’ or ‘Why?’” Maynard funded 100 percent of both trips’ cost, only contacting friends and businesses to raise money for Angel Flight South Central. He ultimately raised more than $80,000 for the charity, and has plans for future trips. Maynard, who is currently chairman of the board of directors for the charity, says more awareness can be raised by word of mouth and outreach to treatment centers and physicians. “It is very rewarding to make a donation of time and money directly to someone and see the thanks in their eyes and hear it in their voice,” Maynard says. “And, hopefully, make a difference to their families as well.” — Madeline Greene




Michael Clements

Sprinkled throughout James Stewart’s (’54, ’59 M.A., ’70 Ph.D.) home office are photos and keepsakes that tell the tale of his storied career in higher education. There are images from the groundbreaking of Tyler State College — now known as the University of Texas at Tyler — where, in 1971, Stewart was appointed the institution’s first president. On his desk are seals from the universities he’s served — not just UT-Tyler, but also UNT, where in the 1960s he worked as assistant to Graduate School Dean Robert Toulouse and President C.C. Nolen. On the bookshelf lining the back wall, a bronze eagle keeps watch. But there’s a newer memento, displayed in a silver frame, that represents his greatest legacy: a photo of Stewart, his son Bryan (’86 M.S., ’92 Ph.D.) and his grandson Blake (’17, ’18 M.S.) at Blake’s graduation ceremony in December. The youngest Stewart earned his master’s in mechanical engineering at UNT — after earning two bachelor’s degrees here in math and engineering — and is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program. “I never pressured Bryan or Blake to go to UNT — they came to that decision themselves,” says Stewart, a government major whose aunts and uncle received their teaching degrees from North Texas State Teachers College. “North Texas proved to be an outstanding institution when I was there and is even more so now.” After earning his master’s in 1959, Stewart went to work for Toulouse.

From left, Krisanne Stewart, Bryan Stewart (’86 M.S., ’92 Ph.D.), James Stewart (’54, ’59 M.A., ’70 Ph.D.), Blake Stewart (’17, ’18 M.S.) and Colleen Stewart at Blake’s graduation in December 2018, where he received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Though he ultimately left for East Texas, where he spent more than a decade as Tyler’s top administrator, UNT remained close to his heart. Soon enough, his son found his way to the university as well. “I fell in love with the math department and the campus,” says Bryan, who received his bachelor’s degree at Tarleton before accepting a teaching fellowship at UNT. “I still remember the smell of popcorn in the Union building and listening to music in the One O’Clock Lounge. Denton felt like a town with a lot of opportunity.” In 1992, Bryan went on to receive his Ph.D. in higher education. He’s spent his entire career in higher ed, serving as dean of math and science and vice president for academic affairs at Tarrant County College, and now as president of Miami Dade College’s medical campus. As he watched his son accept his master’s degree in December, Bryan couldn’t help but swell with pride. The legacy was about more than attending UNT — it was about a deeply embedded affinity for learning.

“My son has always loved school, maybe more than any of us,” he says. “UNT has done an amazing job of giving him opportunities to bloom.” In January, Blake began his studies in UNT’s engineering Ph.D. program. He says he’s happy to continue the legacy but never felt like it was an obligation. “They just led by example, and I wanted to join them,” he says. “It’s amazing to have two people in your corner who have successfully done this — it makes it feel attainable.” And Stewart knows just how his grandson feels. Back when he was pursuing his Ph.D., it was colleagues like Toulouse who made him believe anything was achievable. Now he’s grateful to pay that sentiment forward. “I used to thank Bob Toulouse for everything he made possible for me and my family,” Stewart says. “And you know what his answer always was? ‘I didn’t do enough.’ That’s the philosophy of a true educator and a great institution.” — Erin Cristales

Read about other UNT legacy families at legacy-families and share the story of your own UNT legacy. 52


No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

Nicole Scheffler (’05 M.S.),

Grand Rapids, Mich. :: has been


named in Crain’s Detroit Notable Women in Tech list for 2018. She has worked in technology for 15 years, a large portion of which has been at Cisco. She also founded an award-winning podcast called Diva Tech Talk that encourages women who are interested in careers in technology. It won two national awards this year.

Cheri Bohn, Elkins, Ark. :: won

Lawrence ‘Larry’ Taylor, Fay-

Best in Sculpture at the 23rd annual Artists of Northwest Arkansas competition for her piece entitled Bohn Voyage, a sailboat composed of roots that represent the water and stained glass that serves as sails. Cheri has a studio at local gallery Art Ventures.

2004 Edward Phillips (M.M., ’08

D.M.A.), Pittsburgh :: joined Fox

Rothschild LLP as an associate in the firm’s Pittsburgh office. He was previously a research assistant and held an externship with the Office of General Counsel at Penn State University. Before law school, he taught at Central Michigan University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and served as a corporal in the Canadian military.

Amber Royer (M.S.), Richard-

son :: published her debut science

fiction novel Free Chocolate (Watkins Media), about Earthlings trying to save their most-wanted product from aliens. She teaches creative writing for the University of Texas at Arlington Continuing Education program and Writing Workshops Dallas.

etteville, Ark. :: published his first

book, John McTiernan: The Rise and Fall of an Action Movie Icon (McFarland Publishing), about the life and career of the filmmaker behind Die Hard, Predator and The Hunt for Red October. While at UNT, Larry was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma. His favorite campus memory is “meeting so many friends I am still close with today.”




Rosa Juarez, Alexandria, Va. ::

Kyle Allison, Mansfield :: was hired as vice president of Omni Channel Marketing, E-Commerce Directorate, at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Dallas. Kyle previously worked in corporate retail, including Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods. He earned his M.B.A. from Amberton University in 2012, and is working on his doctorate from California Intercontinental University.

traveled to Barcelona, Spain, as part of a recognition trip for her 2017 sales performance at Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. She joined the sales team in November 2015 and has worked as reservations manager since starting with the company in September 2011. At UNT, she was a member of the Talons.

Sunny Sneckner, Austin :: is the founder of, which installs computer systems such as lights, locks and thermostats for houses and recently designed the state’s first Apple HomeKit Model Home in New Braunfels. He also created Keep Austin Online, which sends technicians to people’s homes for computer repairs. After his UNT graduation, he worked at Apple’s Austin campus for six years.

Paul Wu, Mansfield :: received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for superior performance of his duties while serving in the public affairs department of the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. He retired from the U.S. Navy after five years of service. While at UNT, he was a public relations major and is a diehard Mean Green football fan.

Robin Ryan (Ph.D.), Grapevine :: superintendent of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, was named Region XI Superintendent of the Year. He has served in the position since 2010, after working as principal of Colleyville Heritage High School from 2004 to 2006. He also held numerous positions in Dallas, Carroll, HurstEuless-Bedford, San Angelo and Graham ISDs. He was in the Army National Guard and Reserves, reaching the position of major before retiring in 2004 after 20 years of service.

Ahna Hubnik

in the e-commerce industry for 20 years in various leadership roles, Michael transitioned to the financial technology sector at Alkami, which was named the 66th Fastest Growing Company in North America on Deloitte’s 2017 Technology Fast 500. Michael and his wife, Shannon (’01), have two daughters, Maren and Ella.

Members of Delta Sigma Theta, which is credited with being the first black Greek organization, reunited on campus Sept. 29 to celebrate the sorority’s 50th anniversary. The members lined up from oldest to youngest (front to back) in front of the Greek Life Center. Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n



Nest Shadan Price (’13), Denton ::

2008 Brandi Jean Felderhoff,

Muenster :: was elected vice president of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers’ board of directors. As vice president, she is responsible for the training of branch chairs and representing member issues and concerns to the NASW/ Texas Board of Directors. She previously served on the NASW/ Texas State Conference Planning Committee and was chair of the Texoma branch. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington and is an assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University.

won Most Unique Menu at the Food Truck Championship of Texas in June for a food truck she runs in Denton. Leila’s Food Truck serves vegetarian Middle Eastern fusion cuisine, including grilled falafel burgers and potato poppers with spices. Shadan is a former art teacher and sous chef/supervisor at Mean Greens vegan dining hall on campus.

constituent programs at Georgia State from 2010 to 2016 and at the University of Texas at Arlington from 2005 to 2010.



2009 Jasmine Carter (M.B.A.),

therapy topics to normalize and inspire emotional wellness for people, whether or not they are in therapy. Topics include self care, perfectionism, anxiety, depression, stress management, post traumatic stress disorder in veterans, yoga as therapy and more.

Richardson :: is director of

Jacy Radar (’14 M.S.), Dallas ::

alumni relations and engage­ment at Southern Methodist University. She previously was director of alumni relations at the University of Texas at Dallas from 2016 to 2018, and assistant director for

created a podcast, Everyday Therapy, about emotional wellness and mental health. Jacy joined forces with some of her counseling friends, including Julianne Schroeder (’14 M.S.), to create a conversation about everyday

Paul Bottoni, Garland :: is social media manager in the University of Texas at Dallas’ Office of Communications. He was a reporter for the Terrell Tribune after graduation, before joining UT Dallas in 2014 as a communications specialist, working mainly with UT Dallas magazine. His favorite UNT memories are “late nights with fellow editors putting out the North Texas Daily.”

Shattering expectations West White (’11) doesn’t wish a bad day on anyone — but if you happen to have one, he has a solution. White — along with his wife, Ashton (’09) — is the owner and operator of The BreakRoom. The mold-breaking business, which opened last August at 719 Wainwright St., lets Denton denizens channel their aggression into a smashing good time. Pushing through an unwelcome development in your life? Try out the throwing room, where you can take aim at framed pictures, mirrors and bottles. Stressed out about work? Unleash that anxiety with the satisfying shatter of electronics. Ready to purge all remnants of that pesky ex? Bring a box of mementos and leave them as splintered as your former relationship. “It’s a common thing — you get angry and you trash your own stuff,” says White, who earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. “So why not build a business around that? This stuff is here for you to smash. Ahna Hubnik

You can come in, pay for five, 10, 20 minutes, and just demolish stuff. And you feel better afterward.” In the eight months since The BreakRoom opened, White has seen customers relish the experience of physically venting their frustrations. He knows firsthand the power of a literal breakthrough. “My wife took me to a room like this a couple of years ago,” White says. “I was at a very high-stress job — I was just stressed out and angry a lot. She took me there, and I smashed something and was like, ‘Man, that felt good.’ We did a 10-minute session, and afterward, I was like, ‘That was awesome, I feel great — there needs to be more of these.’” While stress management is an obvious benefit of the business, The BreakRoom can be therapeutic even for those who are the picture of contentment, White says, noting customers often stop by for out-of-the-ordinary date nights or unique team-building opportunities. “Once you try it out, it’s one of those things that’s going to hook you,” he says. “Especially if you’re having a bad day. You have one of those, we’re here.” 54 T h e N o r t h T e x a n | | S p r i n g 2 0 1 9

— Erin Cristales


2015 Korlu Bosillo, Arlington :: ran

Russ Connell, Denton :: has completed a commissioned 24-foot, 10,000-pound sculpture called Ascension for Hall Park in Frisco. The sculpture consisted of three individual sections and was assembled on site, and also was featured on the HGTV website. He is working on a commissioned piece for the city of Albuquerque, N.M., and his art was featured at the Sculpture Tucson exhibition in Tucson, Ariz.

her 50th 5K last May and the Ultra Spartan 30-mile obstacle course in October. She competed in her first 5K in 2013 and now competes in about one race per month, including three Spartan obstacle races. She has worked as a scribe at Cook Children’s ER and Family HealthCare Associates and has been a scribe/medical assistant at Arlington Orthopedic Associates since May 2017.

...... I N T H E //

➺Harley Redin (’42, ’50 M.S.)

returned to the national spotlight this fall when he received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s credited with revolutionizing the game of women’s basketball as the highly successful coach of the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens in Plainview from 1955 to 1973. He’s responsible for


the modern five-player, full-court game and was among the first to use a full-court press and fast-breaking offense. Now

Ruthanna Harry, Dallas :: works as a jewelry category specialist for During the summer, she served as a retail buying intern with Princess Cruises in Santa Clarita, Calif. She was responsible for buying jewelry and accessories sold in the ships’ shops and worked with vendors and logistics and planning and visual officials.


99 years old, the ex-coach told Texas Monthly’s Skip Hollandsworth he doesn’t get out to watch the games anymore. “I miss the girls flying up and down the court, dribbling like crazy, taking those long jump shots,” he said. And he remains humble about his impact on the game. He told Hollandsworth, “I wasn’t that big of a deal.”

The UNT College of Music was represented at President George H.W. Bush’s state funeral in December at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Alumna and U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield (’01) performed with “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra. She joined the Marine band in May 2005 and is the first featured female vocal soloist in its history. Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sang an arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer” by Alan Baylock (’94 M.M.), associate professor of jazz studies and director of the One O’Clock Lab Band. He arranged the piece for Tynan in 2005 and said it was wonderful to hear it performed at such a special event.

A familiar UNT face appeared in this year’s Super Bowl commercial from the NFL. “Mean” Joe Greene was among the group of football greats who in the ad are at a gala to celebrate the league’s 100th season when a football gets

Of its 27 employees, TA Services, a steel trucking transportation company, boasts 14 UNT alumni — so naturally, the business flies a UNT flag at its corporate headquarters in Mansfield. Alumni include logistics coordinator Nicole “Nikki” Jackson (’08), who took the photo.

loose and havoc ensues. Greene’s Coke commercial, “Hey Kid, Catch,” from Super Bowl XIV is still consistently voted among the best of all time. But even more memorable to football fans are his four Super Bowl wins.

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n





W E ’ L L


UNT’s alumni, faculty, staff and students are the university’s greatest legacy. When members of the Eagle family pass, they are remembered and their spirit lives on. Send information about deaths to The North Texan (see contact information on page 4). Read more, write memorials and connect with friends at

Morris, who was a star athlete at

1930s Lura McKelva Morris (’39), Bonham :: During her 100 years of life, she ran her family’s mattress and interiors factory and was a writer, painter and avid sports fan. She was a speech and drama major at North Texas. She was preceded in death by her husband, L.B.

University Community

88, Professor Emeritus of art, of Chanhassen, Minnesota, died Aug. 6 in Minneapolis. She worked at North Texas from 1964 to 1995, teaching classes in advertising design, medical illustration and drawing. She was director of the Summer Art Education Institute. She was a lifetime member of the 1890 Society, established two scholarships in her name, and donated her art collection to UNT. Before joining North Texas, she


No r t h Texa n

1940s Paul ‘P.G.’ Poston, Temple :: He left college with one semester to go to support the World War II


Arch Van Meter, Fort Worth

:: He attended North Texas from 1949 to 1952 and was a member of Phi Alpha Tau. He taught biology in Fort Worth ISD, where a science scholarship was named for him. He also maintained a herd of Angus cattle on his family’s land in Wise County. He was a

member of the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955. He is survived by his wife Patty Thurmond Van

Meter (’53, ’56 M.Ed.).

1950s Virginia Ann Dove Henderson (’50), Bloomington, Ind. :: She was active in Delta Chi Delta (Alpha Delta Pi), Green Jackets, Women’s Forum Council, House President’s Club and the Mary Ardens. Virginia married Robert Henderson (’50) and taught school for many years in Texas, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Mary Ann Haralson Niemeyer (’51, ’57 M.Ed.), Dallas :: She taught at various schools in Texas and, after her first year of teaching, she bought herself and her mother a new car.

of the Year in 1981. He received what

She returned to Minneapolis after

John Boyd Corbin (’57), 83, Pro-

retiring, but said when she heard

fessor Emeritus

received the Distinguished Alumni

“Texan” spoken there, she’d make

of library and

Award. As a student at North Texas

earned bachelor’s and master’s de-

Lorraine E. Berger,


North Texas in the 1930s and was inducted into the UNT Athletics Hall of Fame.

effort and received a Presidential Citation from UNT in 2017. The industrial arts education major designed classified multi-station ammunition assembly machines as an engineer for Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant near Texarkana. In the 1960s, he developed the first computer data processing division. He retired in 1984. He met his wife, the late Mary Neal Conditt (’42), at North Texas, which he attended from the late 1930s to early 1940s.

grees at the University of Minnesota.

any excuse for a conversation.

Larry Byrom, 70, of Pilot Point,

is now the College of Information’s Hall of Fame award in 1990 and also

information sciences, died June 3

he was the editor of the Call Number

in Albuquerque. He was a member

newsletter. After graduation, he

of the faculty from 1973 to 1977 and

served in the U.S. Army from 1957

who had worked in the UNT facilities

1987 to 2000. When he arrived in

to 1959, and later earned a master’s

department, died Aug. 21 in Taos,

1973, he was an industrial engineer

from the University of Texas at Aus-

New Mexico. He served as a U.S.

hired because his expertise in

tin and a Ph.D. from the University of

Army medic in the Vietnam War. He

automation, systems design and


retired from UNT in 2017 after 14

library-based networks would help

years of service during which time

libraries adapt to computerization.

he also worked as a farmer and

He wrote numerous books and

Charles Jack Cross Sr.,

rancher. He was an avid hunter,

publications and was named the

92, Professor

fisherman and gardener.

Texas Library Association Librarian

Emeritus of


Spring 2019

She also worked as an administrator at Houston Baptist University for 19 years until her retirement in 1993. She was an avid reader, active church member and great party hostess.

James Horace Fuller (’53), Euless :: He was employed in the oil seismic industry in Dallas for 40 years. He was a Sigma Phi Epsilon member. He is survived by his wife, Betty Jo Heidman Fuller (’54, ’71 M.Ed.). He was a member of the UNT Alumni Association.

major, he was active in musical theatre, performing in New York City opera productions. He served as managing director of the Society of Women Engineers from 1984 to 1995. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He earned his master’s degree in music at Indiana University.

Peggy Ann Fowler Williams (’54), Arlington, Va. :: She graduated from high school at 16 and majored in math and biology at North Texas. She worked as a teacher, then earned an M.B.A. in 1963 at Rollins College. She used the degree to work on the financial side of her husband’s business, and they ran a consulting firm together. She later worked as a certified internal auditor.

the attention of major medical organizations and heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, to working as a senior plant project engineer for General Motors for 28 years. He also helped design an all-terrain vehicle and a disinfectant that NASA used to clean space vehicles after their return to Earth. He served in the U.S. Army as a radar operator and supply specialist in Korea.

Derrelyn Metz (’55), Denton

:: She worked as an educator for

for several cities, including Arlington, Hurst and Bridgeport, and also was assistant and acting city manager of Little Rock and revenue manager for Shreveport. At North Texas, he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.

1960s Francille Wright Hooten (’60), Richardson :: She was a special education teacher in Dallas and Richardson ISDs. She enjoyed traveling by motorcycle, sitting behind her husband, Bill Hooten (’60), whom she met at North Texas when she tripped on the street and he came to her aid. She also was a member of the Green Jackets.

Frederick Marlin Wilson (’54), Arlington :: The

special-needs students in Oklahoma. She traveled around the world, often on motorcycle. She taught at the American school in Isfahan, Iran, but had to leave during the 1978-79 revolution. As a student at North Texas, she was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority and contributed to its 2009 house campaign.

industrial arts major spent his life creating solutions, from inventing an artificial heart device that drew

Stanley Arthur Neuse (’59), Seguin :: He served as manager

He worked in the apparel industry in Houston, San Francisco and New York. He moved back to his hometown of Seymour, where he

Society, he created the Kenneth L.

University of Texas Medical Branch

Denton. He worked at UNT from 1955

Ken Ferstl (’63), 78,

Ferstl Scholarship in 2005. He re-

in Galveston and served in the U.S.

to 1990 in a variety of positions,

who taught

ceived the UNT School of Library and

Navy as a submarine medical officer,

including professor of secondary

library science

Information Sciences Outstanding

general practitioner, radiologist and

education and chair of the division

for 20 years,

Alumni Award in 1989.

chief of radiology from 1956 to 1980.

Julius J. Smolik (’53), Wharton :: He starred as a halfback on the North Texas football team during the 1951-52 seasons with a 5.3 yard per carry rushing average. He then spent his career with Texas Gulf Sulphur Co. in Newgulf.

Billy Joe ‘B.J.’ Harrod (’54), Bethany, Okla. :: A music

education, died May 12, 2017, in

of secondary and elementary

died Sept. 20 in Denton. He first

education. He also served as the

worked at UNT from 1963 to 1964

first president of the Faculty Senate

as a cataloger in Willis Library. After

and received the President’s Service

James Deryl ‘Butch’ ‘Jay’ Coltharp (’67), Seymour ::

Shailesh Kulkarni,

earning a master’s in library science

Francis ‘Frank’ T. Kostohryz,

Award. Before coming to North

from the University of Wisconsin-

88, a longtime


Texas, he worked as a high school

Madison in 1967, he began teaching

supporter of the

of business

science teacher and instructor at the

at UNT in 1969. He briefly worked

College of Music, died Oct. 2 in Mem-

analytics in the Department of in-

University of Arkansas. He earned

at Emily Fowler Library in Denton

phis. He established the CEFT Frank J.

formation Technology and Decision

bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral

and then earned a Ph.D. in library

& Hermine Hurta Kostohryz Residen-

Sciences since 1999, died July 6. He

degrees from the University of

science from Indiana University

cy in Czech Music and Culture at UNT

was the curriculum coordinator for

Arkansas and served three years in

Bloomington in 1977 before return-

and was a member of the McConnell

the department’s master’s degrees

the U.S. Army Air Corps.

ing to UNT. A member of the 1890

Society. He studied medicine at the

and served as curriculum commit-

Spring 2019


48, of Denton,



No r t h Texa n




was director of the Chamber of Commerce, Baylor County judge and substitute teacher. At North Texas, he was a member of Theta Chi fraternity.

1970s Sharon E. Riise (’72), Tucson, Ariz. :: She worked as a librarian for Tucson Unified School District and led the computerization of the department. She also received four scholarships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She volunteered at Primavera Foundation, where she helped find footwear for the poor.

Kim Vogel (’72), Dallas :: He began his career as a financial reporter with Dun & Bradstreet in Houston and moved to Dallas to pursue a career in commercial security systems until he retired. He loved the Dallas Cowboys and anything to do with analysis.

John Kenneth McCoy (’73, ’73 M.M.), Dayton, Ohio :: He played trumpet in the One O’Clock Lab Band before serving as chief arranger for the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldier’s Chorus from 1977 to 1994 and for Ohio State University Marching Band’s halftime shows from 1995 to 2017. His composition, “We the People,” a tribute to the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Darrell Howard (’74), Tohatchi, N.M. :: He taught science and history and coached volleyball, basketball and track in schools in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. He was known for mentoring his students and his interest in history.

deep friendships with the residents of Bruce Hall and his many bandmates. He also met Susie Easton (’78), his future wife. He served in the Air Force Band as composer/arranger from 1978 to 1992, living in Germany and Warner Robins, Georgia. He worked as a session musician on cruise ships and as a handyman.

Neil Argo (’76), Scottsdale, Ariz. :: He was a composer for film and television programs, from Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place to South African National Geographic documentaries and Wild America. He received the National Endowment for the Arts Award and 15 Telly Awards for his advertising work. He also mentored young composers and filmmakers.

Fred Robinson, Houston :: He

Dixon Kenneth Reidenbach (’79), West Columbia :: He

attended North Texas from 1974 to 1978 to study jazz and formed

was an accomplished trombonist and vocalist who played with such

acts as B.J. Thomas, The Columbians, The Brother Band and The Endless Summer Band. He attended the University of South Carolina Graduate School of Music Performance. He also attended IBM Agent School in 1989 and founded Paradigm Technologies Inc. in 1990.

1980s Larry Earl Adams (’80 Ph.D.), Hurst :: He was a U.S. Army veteran during the Vietnam War. His dissertation focused on Civil War Reconstruction in Texas. An avid reader of Texas history, he served as head of the history department at El Paso Community College for more than 35 years. He was the expert consultant for the city of El Paso during the Texas sesquicentennial in 1986. Julie del Angel (’80, ’87), Rockwall :: She was vice

tee chair. He was internationally

morial Scholarship and The Shailesh

was placed in the U.S. Olympic Com-

James Swan,

known in the operations research

Kulkarni Faculty Research Fund.

mittee Sport Psychology Registry,

71, of Denton,

community as a researcher and

and was a certified consultant in

professor of

sport psychology and a fellow in the

health services,

conferences, including those of the

Peggy A. Richardson,

Decision Sciences Institute and the

79, of Denton,

Sport Psychology. She retired in

He was known for his passion for

Production and Operations Man-


2002 and established the Peggy A.

research in public health studies in

agement Society. He also was vice

Emerita of

Richardson Scholarship in Kinesiol-

aging populations. He published

as an organizer for large annual

American Association for Applied

died May 30.

president of finance and a board

kinesiology who taught physical

ogy. She was a member of the 1890

numerous articles on the issue,

member of POMS. He earned bache-

education at UNT for 32 years, died

Society. She earned her bachelor’s

mentored applied gerontology

lor’s and master’s degrees from the

July 26. She coached the women’s

degree from the University of North

students and was a member of the

University of Bombay and a second

softball and tennis teams and then

Carolina at Greensboro, a master’s

Gerontological Health Section of the

master’s degree and Ph.D. from the

served as assistant chair for 10 years

from Ohio State and a doctorate

American Public Health Association.

University of Cincinnati. His wife,

and interim chair. She received

from Texas Woman’s University.

Rohini, works in Decision Support

He taught at the University of Cali-

a League of Professional Women

fornia in San Francisco, at California

Services at UNT. Donations may be

award, served on the Women’s

State University in Long Beach and

made to the Shailesh Kulkarni Me-

Sports Foundation Advisory Board,

at Wichita State University before



No r t h Texa n



Spring 2019

president and technical coordinator for HKS Architects in Dallas. She previously worked at the architectural firms of The Lauck Group Inc. and HOK. In her free time, she enjoyed quilting. Rahul Dewan (’81), Columbus, Ind. :: He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the UNT Health Science Center in 1981. He served in the Gulf War as a colonel in the U.S. Army and also worked for Walter Reed Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Center, National Institutes of Health and Madigan Army Medical Center. He served as an oncologist for 20 years at Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus.

Milwaukee, where she had worked for 24 years. She served as department chair and associate dean of natural sciences in the College of Letters and Science. Kristina Lynn Reemtsma Simpson (’88), Lansdale, Penn. :: She was a flight attendant for American Airlines before working as a support specialist in a Lansdale elementary school and the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit.


for her quick wit and love of literature. Survivors include her sister Janet Melancon (’89


2010s Katherine Marie Gallets (’10), San Antonio :: She worked briefly as a computer programmer and enjoyed traveling, reading and creating art. At UNT, she was a member of the Society of Women Engineers and graduated first in her class of computer science majors.

Michelle Melancon-Dunkins (’97, ’04 M.A.), Dallas :: She worked for 16 years as an English teacher and coach at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, where students often said she was their favorite teacher or made a difference in their lives. She also taught English at El Centro College in Dallas. She was known

Bertrand Howard ‘Randy’ Batiste (’15 M.S.), Dallas ::

coming to UNT in 2004. He earned

his way up from dishwasher as a

Relations, Communications and

his bachelor’s and master’s degrees

student employee in 2004 to chef

Marketing and director of news and

from Wichita State University and

garde manger (pantry chef) for UNT

information. He did everything from

his doctorate from Northwestern

Dining Services. He mentored other

serving as spokesman for breaking

University. He was a Peace Corps

workers, and his food was known for news stories to writing articles for

volunteer in Panama from 1969 to

its beauty and deliciousness. He en- The North Texan. He earned his

1971. Colleagues remember him for

joyed spending time with his family,

bachelor’s degree from West Texas

his love of puns and statistics.

especially at his parents’ home in

A&M University and did graduate

the East Texas Piney Woods.

work at Texas Christian University.

Karen M. Brucks (’82 M.A., ’88 Ph.D.), Milwaukee, Wis. :: She was an associate professor emeritus in the mathematical sciences department at the University of Wisconsin at

He was assistant director of Student AccessAbility at UT-Dallas and was known for championing campus accessibility for people with disabilities. He was paraplegic, but friends noted he never complained about his own disability.

Steven Ross Thompson,

Roddy Wolper,

odist University, Loyola University,

34, senior

73, former news

SullivanPerkins, the American

food service

director for UNT,

Heart Association, the University of

manager for

died Oct. 10

Dallas and Texas A&M University at

in Denton. He


catering, died July 8 in Denton. Ste-

He also worked for Southern Meth-

ven, who was a psychology major

worked at UNT from 1999 to 2007

at UNT from 2004 to 2008, worked

as associate director of University

Spring 2019

Bhargav Reddy Ittireddy (’18), Minneapolis :: The College of Engineering graduate was a native of India who recently moved to Minneapolis to begin his career. He is remembered for his positive outlook on life and his willingness to help others.

William N. Emmett, Frisco :: He was a freshman in the College of Engineering and a member of Pi Kappa Alpha.

Sydney Gray, Fort Worth :: She was a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies in the College of Education and was an active member of the UNT Black Student Union.

Memorials Send memorials to honor UNT alumni and friends, made payable to the UNT Foundation, to University of North Texas, Division of Advancement, 1155 Union Circle #311250, Denton, Texas 762035017. Indicate on your check the fund or area you wish to support. Or make secure gifts online at For more information, email giving@ or call 940-565-2900.




No r t h Texa n




UNT LOVE A call on our social media pages for UNT love stories brought sweet tales from alumni of several different decades. Send us your own stories at

Dan Rice

In 1972, I was a Student Government Association officer. Bill (’73) was on the Supreme Court. We only talked on the phone. I scheduled court cases and occasionally chatted with him. I had no clue what he looked like. Life went on: SGA, music degree, Bill’s start on a master’s. In May 1973 we met outside of the 7-11 and talked for what seemed like hours but was actually only 30 minutes. We met for dinner and it was love from the beginning even if Harmon Killebrew stole home base on our first date. Bill proposed to me under the biggest oak tree in McKenna Park and we went to the local jewelry store where he spent his entire monthly G.I. bill on my engagement ring. In July of 1974, we were married. We are still married with two children — 45 years and still going strong. — Shirley Ohlhausen Derryberry (’74)

Melissa LeRitz (’10) and Justin Umberson (’10) met in their last class of their last semester at UNT. They later reconnected, and when she left for law school in Oregon, he followed. They are now planning their May wedding. Zach (’07) and I met at a party on his 20th birthday. He asked for my number and I turned him down. In my defense, he asked my entire group of friends so we could all hang out some other time. We were just friends at first, until we realized how much we really enjoyed each other’s company. He used to IM me jokes when I had some downtime in my dorm room, and I was pretty hooked after that. (IM stands for Instant Message for anyone younger than 30 — the original texting.) We both competed for the Mean Green. I swam and high jumped, and Zach played wide receiver. It was comforting to have someone understand the commitment you had for your sport, and push you to always strive for your best. We have the greatest memories from UNT and love sharing that with our three little Eagles. This summer, we’ll celebrate 10 years of marriage! — Amanda Neal Muzzy (’08)

I met Cathy Evans Westurn (’87) in class at North Texas State University in the fall of 1985. Two years later we were married and both graduating with our B.B.A. degrees. Now, almost 34 years after meeting, we are still madly in love with each other. We have two sons (one attending UNT who will graduate in August, the other attending Texas Tech). Cathy has been accepted into the graduate program and will be returning to UNT this summer to fulfill her lifelong goal of earning her M.B.A. UNT means a lot to our family and we are actively involved with the Alumni Association, mentoring students and giving back through scholarships. — Stephen Westurn (’87, ’91 M.B.A.)



No r t h Texa n


My husband, Tom (’14 M.M.), and I met at UNT when I was a senior, and he was a first-year master’s student. We play the same instrument and were in the same studio in the College of Music. One of the guys in our studio threw a party with a prom theme. We all got dressed up in |

Spring 2019

gowns and tuxes, had dinner and took pictures on the Square, and went to the “prom” at some students’ apartments. At the time, we were just friends, but we stayed up all night talking and started dating a few weeks later. He proposed the day I graduated with my master’s, Friday the 13th. We got married 7/7/17 to keep the luck going. — Alison Miserendino Mahovsky (’13, ’16 M.M., ’16 M.M.Ed.) My husband, Blake (’12), and I met at UNT in the fall of 2010. He was a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program majoring in ancient history, and I was an active member of Kappa Delta and majoring in development and family studies. We started dating and eventually got engaged in February of 2012. That May, he was commissioned on a Friday, we graduated that Saturday, and two weeks later we got married in Denton. A month after that, we moved to Pensacola, Florida, so he could begin his military career. Fast forward seven years: We are an active duty Air Force family, have moved five times to four states, have two beautiful daughters and still have UNT decals on our cars! It’s fun to think about where we came from and what UNT still means to us. — Megan Brooks Fischer (’12)


The MEAN GREEN swimming and diving team made a splash in the conference standings. It’s been a strong season and the team finished third at a historic Conference USA Championship, setting six new school records and qualifying for nationals in two events.


MEANGREENSPORTS.COM 800-UNT-2366 / 940-565-2527

Spring 2019




No r t h Texa n


The North Texan

Michael Clements

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing 1155 Union Circle #311070 Denton, Texas 76203-5017

PA RT I N G S H O T With a reputation as a hub for creativity and innovation, it’s no surprise UNT was reaffirmed as a Tier One research university by the Carnegie Classification this year. The dedication of student and faculty researchers — including biophysical geographer Alexandra Ponette-González, at left, with research assistant Jenna Rindy in UNT’s Materials Research Facility — is leading to the discovery of solutions to society’s most pressing problems in a collaborative, cross-disciplinary environment. Read more on page 36.