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Survey: Tell us ho w we’re doin g Page





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Wende Zomnir [ page 1 4] B.A.A.S. Program [ page 32] Mean Green [ page 36] Giving Impact [ page 38] | Summer 2018




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Sustain it.

As a UNT Institute of Research Excellence, the BioDiscovery Institute (BDI) delivers groundbreaking research solutions supporting the use of plants, forest products and other biomass for production of food and feed, polymers, construction materials, bioactive molecules and biofuels. BDI is a leader in understanding molecular processes and new materials for the development of a sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-based economy. BDI –– Creating innovative bio-based solutions



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Wende Zomnir

As CEO of Urban Decay, journalism alumna works to build a beauty industry that celebrates bold, courageous women.


Wingspan Gala

“The Bright Lights of UNT” showcased student, faculty and alumni excellence.


Degree in Perseverance

For nontraditional students, the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences provides the flexibility to earn a diploma while meeting work and family obligations.


Mean Green

Student-athletes receive high-flying honors at this year’s Scrappy Awards. Michael Clements



Branch campus, research centre help meet needs. DEAR NORTH TEXAN • 4

Football heroes ... Student fireman ... The maestro UNT TODAY • 6

Putting the Tech in Texas

Spreading its wings ... Global Connection ... Ask an Expert ... UNT Alumni Association



Crafter of cocktails ... Making poetry visible



New traditions abound at UNT ring ceremony.



By Erin Cristales

Mark Duebner ... Goat enterprise ... Legacy Families ... Friends We’ll Miss

Cover: Illustration by Cliffton Caster and Nola Kemp


Recent graduate reflects on research victories. Summer 2018





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

ONLINE FEATURES GREENE PRIDE The Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal to name UNT’s newest residence hall, set to open in 2019, Joe Greene Hall. A REEL WINNER The “Next Visionary Filmmaker” is UNT media arts student Ciara Boniface, who submitted a video in a contest that won her $100,000 to film her next movie. GLOBAL GOOD As a child, Tesa Hargis (’17) wished for world peace each Christmas. Now, thanks to a $45,500 Rotary Global Grant, she will try to make that dream a reality by pursuing an M.A. in human rights in London. Michael Clements

GET CONNECTED Connect with us at facebook.com/northtexas. Follow us at twitter.com/northtexan.


Watch us on youtube.com/ universitynorthtexas. Follow us at instagram.com/unt.


When you see this arrow, join our North Texan community online at northtexan.unt.edu.



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Summer 2018

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
















Ahna Hubnik


UNT HAS SERVED THE residents of Denton County since 1890, and this spring we took a historic step to increase our presence in Collin County. Thanks to a partnership with the city of Frisco and its Frisco Economic and Community Development corporations, we will build a 100-acre President Neal Smatresk enjoys the 2018 Grad Block Party in May with new graduates, friends and family. branch campus to serve at least 5,000 students (page 6). It’s an exciting opportunity to continue cultivating programs and serving the residents of Frisco — the second-fastest-growing city in the nation. Our newest venture illustrates that we are the University for North Texas. This was just one of the highlights of the spring semester. We also broke ground for our new biomedical engineering building, became Texas’ first public university with a collegiate esports program and celebrated our third Wingspan Gala (page 30). As you’ll read in our cover story, “Putting the Tech in Texas,” innovation is a key to success for our alumni in the startup arena (page 22). Innovation also is at play here at UNT, as we constantly look for ways to conduct next-generation research and build new technologies and opportunities. Upon meeting Dejian Liu — founder of NetDragon, a Chinese internet and mobile internet gaming and education delivery company — I saw how we could partner to help improve student success. In May, we launched UNT’s NetDragon Digital Research Centre to give UNT faculty and students additional opportunities for research, internships, training and technology development (page 11). Our 2017-18 academic year has been incredible. By August, we expect to have awarded 9,000 degrees this year — more than ever before. UNT students have tremendous opportunities to succeed in 227 degree programs, including our Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program, which awards credit for experience (page 32). I hope you have a great summer and will stop by to visit campus if you’re traveling through the area. UNT is transforming rapidly, and we’re thankful to have supporters like you in our corner. UNT proud,

N Neall S Smatreskk President president@unt.edu

(’96 )






(’16 )




( ’ 8 8 , ’ 07 M . J . )


(’08 )


E D I TO R S E R I N CR I STA L ES ( ’ 1 1







( ’ 9 3 M . S . , ’ 0 0 M . A .)

(’10 M.J.)









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J E N N I F E R PACHE (’16, ’18 M.A .) A M A N D A P E A R S O N (’18)



( ’ 0 8 , ’ 1 2 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 northtexan@unt.edu 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 is firmly committed to equal opportunity and does not permit – and takes actions to prevent – discrimination, harassment (including sexual violence) and retaliation on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, family status, genetic information, citizenship or veteran status in its application and admission processes, educational programs and activities, facilities and employment practices. The University of North Texas System immediately investigates and takes remedial action when appropriate. The University of North Texas System also takes actions to prevent retaliation against individuals who oppose a discriminatory practice, file a charge, or testify, assist or participate in an investigative proceeding or hearing. Direct questions or concerns to the equal opportunity office, 940-565-2759, or the dean of students, 940-565-2648. TTY access is available at 940-369-8652. AA/EOE/ADA Created by the Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing


©2018 UNT URCM 6/18 (18-453)

Summer 2018





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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: northtexan.unt.edu (follow the “Contact Us” link) Phone: 940-565-2108 Fax: 940-369-8763 Email: northtexan@unt.edu

Football heroes

Student fireman

Great to see a letter in the spring issue about one of my boyhood heroes, quarterback Don Baker. I grew up at 1313 W. Chestnut, next door to the old student union. My uncle ran his auto repair business there and worked on all the football players’ cars, including Don Baker’s. For years, we knew many of the players and never had to buy a ticket to the games. Coaches Ken Bahnsen, Fred McCain and Odus Mitchell (pictured with Herb Ferrill in the 1957 Yucca) also were friends, along with Abner Haynes. Great memories. John Hendrik (’68) Tempe, Arizona



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I worked as a teenage student fireman along with other teenagers for the Denton Fire Department, all living in the Avenue B fire station just off campus, from 1946 to 1949. At about 2 a.m. one morning, we received a call to extinguish a fire in one of the women’s dormitories on campus. It being a women’s dormitory, we dashed up the stairs only to find that a waste basket was on fire, which we quickly extinguished. The next day, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported the incident, stating that it took the fire department 5 minutes to put out the fire and 30 minutes to put out the firemen. We called ourselves the “Ulightem, Wefightem” Fraternity. I was in the August 1949 graduating class, receiving a B.B.A. degree. I have many fond memories of my four years at North Texas.



Summer 2018

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

day, and I think of the maestro often and always with joy. He was brilliant. And he helped make me a better musician and a better person. Thanks for the opportunity to remember this great man. James G. McGiffin Jr. (’82) Dover, Delaware

Great grads

I worked in insurance most of my career, spending 32 years with Texas Blue Cross & Blue Shield. Kenneth Gray (’49) Mesa, Arizona

The maestro

I have just finished reading the spring issue of The North Texan, and I am so sad to learn of the passing of Maestro Anshel Brusilow. I was honored to play in the bass section of the then NTSU Orchestra in the early 1980s, and I learned so much from him. My career path took me in a direction other than music (as a judge in the Family Court of the state of Delaware), but I play in a community orchestra to this

I started my college education in 1959, the year after I graduated from high school, with little support from my parents. I began at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in music, my first love. But then I got married and life happened. The marriage did not last very long, but it gave me two terrific daughters, Pam and Beth, whom I now needed to fully support. I was an IRS secretary in 1967 when the Veterans Administration opened a data processing center next door to where I worked. I only had to pass the Federal Service Entrance Examination to get the opportunity for on-the-job training and become a computer programmer. The job was an excellent fit for me, and it allowed me to

raise my children on a salary far better than that of a secretary. I still wanted to continue my formal education. Over the years, I accumulated 100-plus credit hours from five Texas universities, once taking off work for a year to go back to school full time. It was in this full-time return to school that UNT advisor Connie Fickenscher was so encouraging to me and helpful in getting all of my old college credits to properly transfer. After I retired in 2011, I still planned to earn my B.A., but I accepted the fact that a music

degree was no longer accessible. Still, just being in the musical atmosphere of UNT was appealing. With advisor Kristin Ringe’s assistance, I chose to major in integrative studies. After a while, I realized I could minor in music as well. Amazingly, over the years, the campus has retained a lot of its personality. The big changes are in the expansions such as Apogee Stadium, Discovery Park and the Murchison Performing Arts Center. And, of course, the smartphone. Before I returned to school this last time, I volunteered

with organizations including the Denton Senior Center Chorus and Our Daily Bread. I am proud of the work I have done and look forward to new opportunities. Betty Sue Davis Wright (’18) Denton Editor’s note: Read more stories from our May graduates in our Great Grads series at unt. edu/great-grads-spring-2018.

@northtexan #UNTPremiere #mgparents I’m so happy all my kids are going to a campus they can be themselves. #UNT22 — @singledadissad I really am gonna miss dorm life and all the amazing people I met through it. Freshman year at UNT was unforgettable! #gmg — @MadisonHeskett I’m exhausted out of my mind but I love the UNT College of Music like wow how am I here. — @Tayl0rTeague

A Twitter tribute for Bill Mercer Sunday (April 22) we commemorated 50 yrs since Bill Mercer started the broadcast program at North Texas. Great to see Bill, sharp as ever at 92, & share stories w/friends & colleagues. The man touched a lot of lives at UNT. ... — @MFollowill He also helped many get over their shyness by sending them into stands to call games into tape recorders. Shaking off those awkward looks I received instilled me with the hubris I have today. — @rhett0ric As an Arkansas born rasslin fan from the 70s and 80s — that guy was the voice of God. Glad to hear more of the history and about the imprint he left on so many successful broadcasters from NTX. — @colliecawcaw No way he is 92! Looks great. A lot of great memories with Bill on WCCW. — @RealTorclan

Honestly turning my ring to show the Eagle facing outward, which signifies alumnus status, was one of the coolest things I’ve done! #UNTGrad18 #UNT #GMG — @Maxrichardson17 Padawan no more. A master I am. #unt18 #gmg — @Lynnelaughter All the UNT graduation posts are so beautiful, amazing & inspirational. Congratulations to all Eagles who will be flying high. — @Lyxzyy

My favorite classes at UNT were learning from Bill. — @zthartman Legend. — @kipsbigboy See the group photo from the reunion, attended by UNT broadcast greats, at northtexan.unt.edu/ online. You’ll also find a link to a recent podcast featuring Mercer (’66 M.A.), who is pictured above with alum Mark Followill, longtime voice of the Dallas Mavericks. Followill also has been an announcer for FOX soccer broadcasts since 2014 and is one of six play-by-play voices for FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup this summer.

Summer 2018


I’m so ready to be in Denton. #UNT22 — @bronteherm Follow us on Twitter. We look forward to staying connected!





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New deans named for New College, CMHT page 10

Ahna Hubnik

SPREADING ITS WINGS UNT develops ‘public-public’ partnership with Frisco to make way for a new branch campus in Collin County

View our interactive map to see how UNT is expanding its reach in the region at northtexan.unt.edu/spreading-wings.



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Summer 2018

IT’S OFFICIAL  THE “EAGLE HAS LANDED” in Frisco. Unanimous approval of UNT’s new “public-public” partnership with the city of Frisco and its Frisco Economic and Community Development corporations is making way for what will ultimately be a branch campus to serve at least 5,000 students, providing higher education and research opportunities for future generations. “We’re excited to grow our relationship with UNT,” says Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney. “Affordable, quality education is an integral part of being a vibrant, innovative and sustainable community. This partnership means a lot to me as a city leader, as a parent and as a business owner.”

Innovation and ambition

UNT President Neal Smatresk says UNT is proud to be the chosen partner in providing innovative learning and partnership opportunities to the Frisco and greater Collin and Denton County areas. “With this partnership, UNT will bring the innovation and ambition to the city of Frisco that UNT embodies as the nation’s 29th largest public research university,” Smatresk says. “With our home in Denton, we’ve always been the world-class university next door, but now we are the global university available right outside your front porch. We are excited about developing what comes next, and look forward to working seamlessly with our partners at Collin College to ensure that the UNT graduates from our campus in Frisco are uniquely qualified to meet the evolving needs of a creative economy driven by education.” Meeting needs in Collin County

Currently, UNT teaches about 1,600 students in Collin County each semester — about 1,200 at the New College at Frisco, which opened in Hall Park in spring 2016, and about 400 at the Collin Higher Education Center in McKinney. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, Frisco’s population seeks convenient higher education opportunities in a complex, forward-looking corporate ecosystem. “We saw this as a major opportunity to invest in a four-year, top-notch university, which has always been part of the city of Frisco’s long-term vision,” says Wren Ovard, chair of the Frisco Community Development Corp. As the city continues to grow, the Frisco Independent School District is projected to add at least 10,000 more students by 2022, with UNT aiming to meet their educational needs. “With the creation of partnership-based curriculum in degrees designed specifically to integrate with Collin College — the first of which will be available this fall — UNT’s offerings in Frisco will be at the forefront of the movement to transform higher education,” says Jennifer Cowley, UNT provost and vice president for academic affairs. “UNT graduates know how to keep up with a next-generation economy, and with businesses, community and civic organizations as our partners in the classroom, our graduates will be even better prepared to define what comes next.” Construction on the UNT branch campus is scheduled to start no later than March 2022. A master plan for the initial site will be developed with representatives from Frisco.



The future UNT branch campus will be located at the southwest corner of Preston Road and Panther Creek Parkway on 100 acres of land, to start, provided by the city of Frisco at no cost. Construction is anticipated to begin no later than March 2022. Inspire Park

In spring 2019, UNT will expand operations at Inspire Park, a 50,000-square-foot building on 4.8 acres adjacent to the new land. Students can expect flexible, seamless degree programs that are responsive to their needs. New College at Frisco

At UNT’s New College at Frisco, located at Hall Park, classes leading to degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels are available. UNT’s offerings in Frisco are perfect for students seeking careers in business, education, design, analytics and sports. Students can pursue degrees in areas including recreation, event and sport management, strategic corporate communication, advanced data analytics and interaction design, among others. Learn more at frisco.unt.edu, call 972-668-7100 or email untfrisco@unt.edu. For questions about specific programs, contact the UNT Office of Advising Services at 940-5653633 or email untadvising@unt.edu. Pictured at left, from left to right: Frisco City Councilman Will Sowell, Frisco Mayor Pro Tem Shona Huffman, Frisco City Councilman Bill Woodard, Scrappy, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney, UNT President Neal Smatresk, Frisco Deputy Mayor Pro Tem John Keating and Frisco City Councilman Brian Livingston.

Summer 2018





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

• Shattering glass ceilings. Four UNT alums were named to the Dallas Observer’s list of eight female DFW artists who’ve taken a sledgehammer to the glass ceiling. Written in honor of Women’s History Month, the list highlights singer-songwriter Bayleigh Cheek, who attended from 2013 to 2015, as well as They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy lead singer Sarah Ruth Alexander (’04), singer-songwriter Claire Morales (’12) and M83 lead singer Kaela Sinclair (’12). • History-making win. College of Business senior Anna McKee is the first woman to win IBM’s Master the Mainframe coding challenge for the North American region. McKee, who is pursuing two degrees — a B.S. in business computer information systems and a B.B.A. in decision sciences — won first place in the final and most difficult portion of IBM’s contest. In addition to coming in first in North America, McKee was ranked as one of the top three competitors globally. • Reaching a milestone. This year marks the 20th anniversary of UNT’s New Horizons bands (pictured), whose members consist of active adults and retirees. The bands are part of the New Horizons International Music Association, created by Roy Ernst, Professor Emeritus at Eastman School of Music. UNT’s Debbie Rohwer, associate to the president, chief of staff and Regents Professor of music education, studied at Eastman and after seeing the success of Ernst’s program, brought it to Denton in 1998.

Ahna Hubnik

Kara Dry

Audit foundation grant

Accounting doctoral candidate Megan Seymore, CPA, has been awarded the $10,000 Michael J. Barrett Doctoral Dissertation Grant to study how visualizations of big data and differing data



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sources influence decisionmaking in internal audits. The grant comes from the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Internal Audit Foundation. The award will help fund Seymore’s doctoral research, examining the way data analytics and different sources for information can alter business judgments. Internal audit reports have traditionally been text-heavy documents. However, auditors are increasingly incorporating visuals to help explain results from large data sets.



Summer 2018

Debate tournament

UNT debaters finished in the top 44 teams at the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s national tournament and the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, both held at Lewis

and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, this spring. At the Tournament of Excellence, sophomore accounting student James Renfroe (pictured left) and junior journalism student Matthew Hernandez (pictured right) ranked No. 42. Renfroe and junior business student Michael Pulver ranked No. 44 at the national tournament, where 130 teams competed from around the country. The NPTE began in 2000 as the premier national competition in parliamentary debate.


This spring, UNT became Texas’ first public research university with a collegiate esports program. Esports grossed $696 million in total global revenue last year and the industry is predicted to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020. Housed in the Division of Student Affairs’ Department of Recreational Sports, UNT Esports will begin sporting four teams playing the games Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends and Overwatch to compete in the 2018-19 season. Stay up-to-date with @UNTesports on Twitter.


Named an America’s Best Value College by Forbes.


UNT faculty and students conduct research in numerous state-of-the-art facilities and labs, including those housed at Discovery Park, UNT’s 300-acre research park.




Founded in 1890, UNT is one of the oldest public universities in the North Texas region — and now the 29th largest public research university in the nation.

UNT annually awards $360 million in financial aid and more than $46 million in scholarships.




Local government management specialty in the public affairs graduate program ranked 1st in Texas by U.S. News & World Report.

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UNT’s moot court program ranked 12th in the nation by the American Moot Court Association.

Online hospitality and hotel management master’s program ranked 6th in the nation by CollegeChoice.net.

UNT ranked the 4th best employer in Texas and the 40th best employer in the nation by Forbes. Summer 2018





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New dean of New College

Wesley Randall, professor of logistics and former chair of the Department of Marketing and Logistics, is the new dean of UNT’s New College. Randall, whose appointment took effect March 1, replaces former dean Brenda McCoy, who now serves as vice

president of strategic initiatives and administration in UNT’s Division of Enrollment. In his new role, Randall is guiding efforts to develop curriculum and programming at the New College. In addition, he is working with colleagues across UNT to help expand the university’s presence in Collin County and solidify its partnerships with area community colleges. He also is leading initiatives to increase engagement at the Collin Higher Education Center in McKinney. Randall started his career as a logistician in the U.S. Air

Force. He came to UNT in 2011 as an assistant professor of logistics and the coordinator of the logistics doctoral program.

New dean of CMHT

Jana Hawley, one of the nation’s premier authorities on apparel, textiles, sustainability

and international business, is joining UNT on Aug. 1 as the new dean of the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism. She previously served at UNT from 1998 to 2000 as an assistant professor of merchandising and hospitality management. Hawley comes from the University of Arizona, where she served as director of the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. She replaces Judith Forney, who has served as dean since 2001 and is stepping down to pursue teaching and academic interests.

Michael Clements

Advocating for ELLs

Rossana Boyd, principal lecturer and director of the Bilingual/ ESL Teacher Education programs in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration, has a lot going on. But she says it’s worth it to help English language learners (ELLs) excel in the classroom. “When I see these students, they encourage me to seek the funding that will help prepare our teachers to serve them more effectively,” Boyd says. “The children motivate me.” Boyd’s commitment to teachers and students earned her the



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Summer 2018

designation of UNT Foundation Outstanding Lecturer at last year’s Faculty Excellence Awards. Her efforts include securing funding from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board totaling $1.2 million for scholarships for bilingual pre-service teachers. She has received funding from the U.S. Department of Education for the Title III National Professional Development Project NEXUS, and she and her team recently were awarded $2.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to implement another Title III National Professional Development grant program, Project SUCCESS in Language and Literacy Instruction. Boyd — who earned a bachelor’s in educational administration from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, a master’s in education from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Louisiana State University — credits her department chair James Laney (’79, ’82 M.Ed.) with supporting her efforts. “My life has been dedicated to making sure that teachers serve children so they can have access to content knowledge, develop English and their native language,” she says. Read more about Boyd and listen to her discuss her projects at northtexan.edu/online.



UNT LAUNCHES NETDRAGON DIGITAL RESEARCH CENTRE UNT joined forces with Digital Train Limited, a leader in internet and mobile internet educational content and delivery, to launch its NetDragon Digital Research Centre in May. Digital Train Limited, one of many companies owned by NetDragon founder Dejian Liu, provided $500,000 as startup funding to launch the centre and provide seed money for initiatives. The centre is designed to provide unique opportunities for student internships and faculty training, technology development,

sponsored research across multiple disciplines, and deployment of online courses to further enrich student-learning experiences. “As a Tier One research university, we are constantly looking for ways to grow and improve our research,” President Neal Smatresk says. “Through the NetDragon Digital Research Centre, our faculty and students will develop next-generation technologies to improve our students’ success. They also will receive support to conduct research related to other emerging and evolving technologies, industries and innovations.” The centre will be led by Thomas D. Parsons, a professor of learning technologies and founding director of UNT’s Computational Neuropsychology and Simulations Lab.

“I am excited by the possibilities that the NetDragon Digital Research Centre avails and look forward to working with faculty and student researchers at UNT, as well as with industry partners who have ideas for groundbreaking technologies,” says Parsons, whose appointment as director began May 10. In addition, the College of Music is ironing out details for a possible digital music partnership with NetDragon, in which students provide music for its gaming products. “We’re looking for a long-standing relationship where students will not only generate content but also be involved in internships,” says Jon Nelson, associate dean of operations for the College of Music.

Michael Clements

President Neal Smatresk presents NetDragon founder Dejian Liu with an eagle painting at the NetDragon Digital Research Centre launch announcement May 15. The centre will offer students and faculty sponsored research and technology development opportunities, online courses, internships and Summer 2018





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Gary Payne


Work identities research

Researcher Kathryn Ostermeier, a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Business’ Department of Management, is studying how different

identities at work or at home impact people on the job. For example, an individual who has to balance a role as a health care provider, where the focus is on patient care, with a role as a hospital employee, which has an additional focus on profitability, may feel conflicted regarding the two roles. In her research, A Foot in Two Worlds: Exploring Organizational and Professional Dual Identification, Ostermeier found that multiple identities can hurt work performance if

the individual hasn’t reconciled the identities. College of Engineering grant

The College of Engineering received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a biodegradable medical stent. Traditional stents are made of anti-corrosion polymers or metals such as stainless steel, but the permanent presence of these stents can cause problems such as the re-narrowing of an artery or other large


blood vessel, and clotting. “Our stents will be made of a new zinc-based biomaterial that provides strength, biocompatibility and full biodegradability that matches the body’s natural healing process,” says Donghui Zhu, associate professor of biomedical engineering. The stents also will be more cost-effective because they will decrease the likelihood that patients will need a replacement stent, tissue graft or bypass surgery.

Ask an Expert

How can you keep kids engaged in learning over the summer?


or many parents, keeping their children off the couch and engaged in learning is a year-round struggle — and never more so than during summer vacation. Ricardo Gonzalez, assistant professor of teacher education and administration in the College of Education, has some tips for how to make sure your child learns during the summer months while also enjoying a much-needed break. “Kids spend nine long months in school,” Gonzalez says. “Focus on activities geared toward fun, and your kids will continue to learn.” Avoid the summer slump • Give kids structure during the day. Have things for them to do that are engaging and educational, but also let them have fun. Playing together helps them build necessary social skills.



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Summer 2018

Look for local programming • There are many programs that help kids stay engaged and advance their interests. City offerings, like those through Denton Parks and Recreation, include everything from skateboarding classes to chess clubs. • Look for workshops provided at local universities. For example, UNT offers weeklong courses for kids of all ages, ranging from music programs to robotics and app programming classes. Knowing your children’s interests will allow you to provide them with meaningful educational experiences throughout the summer. — Madeline Greene

Gary Payne

Use technology to your advantage • Don’t forget: Technology is a great tool for learning. Students can use their phones or tablets to tell stories through audio/video and photography, or virtually explore the world with tools like The New York Times VR.

• Many online games teach math, reading and other subjects children learn while in school (examples include Khan Academy and Brainscape for secondary students, and BrainPOP Jr. and Epic! for elementary students).

TAMS expands tracks

PROFESSOR ELECTED INTO ROYAL SOCIETY Richard Dixon, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was elected into the United Kingdom’s Royal Society, the oldest scientific organization in the world dedicated to the understanding and advancement of science. Dixon, originally from the U.K., also serves as associate director of UNT’s BioDiscovery Institute, one of four prestigious Institutes of Research Excellence designed to promote interdisciplinary research. Dixon is known as a world leader in the area of plant science. He has used his knowledge of the chemical makeup of plants to create better alfalfa hay for livestock and more effective biofuel plants.

Students who enroll in UNT’s Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science for the 2019 fall semester will have the option of combining study in the sciences with study in the arts. The academy is the nation’s first residential program for gifted high schoolers to take rigorous college classes with the option of conducting original scientific research at a university while earning a diploma. It will offer three new tracks in music, media arts, and visual arts and design, adding to its existing tracks of science and computer science and engineering. The three new tracks will allow students to develop their multiple interests and talents. Health information honoree

Ana Cleveland, Regents Professor of information science, is the recipient of the 2018 Marcia C. Noyes Award, the highest honor the Medical Library Association confers. Cleveland, a Sarah Law Kennerly Endowed Professor and director of the health informatics program in the College of Information, received the award at the MLA annual meeting in Atlanta in May. Under her guidance, the health librarianship program is ranked No. 7 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The award recognizes a career that has resulted in outstanding contributions to medical librarianship.

UNT Alumni Association The UNT Alumni Association is offering travel opportunities through Oceania Cruises in late 2018 and early 2019. UNT alumni, their families and friends are invited to explore international destinations and historic landmarks as part of the “Allure of Autumn” this fall. The Allure of Autumn is a 10-night cruise, set from Sept. 23 to Oct. 3, that travels through the Atlantic coast of Canada and New England. In 2019, the association is offering a South Pacific cruise set from Jan. 31 to Feb. 10 with stops in Papeete, Moorea, Fakarava, Rangiroa, Bora Bora, Raiatea and Huahine. John (’80 M.B.A.) and Mary Alda (’84), lifetime UNT Alumni Association and Mean Green Club members, took their first cruise sponsored by the UNT Alumni Association in October 2015. They sailed again in summer 2016 and booked a 20-day cruise through Norway and Russia this year. “The travel agency that partners with UNT and other university alumni associations does an excellent job of bringing people together and offers several alumni events during the cruise,” John says. The opportunity to meet fellow UNT alumni, explore the Mediterranean and meet alumni from other universities made for a wonderful travel experience. “We’re proud graduates and longtime supporters of UNT,” John says. “If you’re able to support UNT and meet other graduates while on vacation, that’s a win.” Learn more and book your trip at untalumni.com. To join the association or learn more, visit untalumni.com, email alumni@unt.edu or call 940-565-2834.

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Wende Zomnir by Erin Cristales


ow many of you are feminists?” It’s 1999, three years after Wende Zomnir (’89) launched her cutting-edge makeup brand Urban Decay, and 18 years before the dawning of a movement known as #MeToo. She’s speaking at a conference in Salt Lake City packed with women from around the world who make their living as part of the action sports industry. Zomnir surveys the dining room, sees eight, maybe 10, hands. “How many of you think you should be paid the same as your male counterparts for doing the same job?” This time, every hand goes up. “Congratulations,” Zomnir says. “You’re all feminists.” That early speech, delivered long before Urban Decay emerged as the secondlargest makeup brand in the U.S., was just one small stand in a series of battles the cosmetics CEO has been fighting her whole life — a campaign that centers on recognizing the worth of every woman and eschews the idea that such messages must be delivered politely. Finally, she says, society is catching up. “Something’s changed,” says Zomnir, who earned her B.A. in journalism. “Before, it was always painful. It was, ‘Do you really want to say it that way?’ or ‘Oh, I don’t know, that message is really strong.’ People would always want to pull you back from making your girl-power statement.” Urban Decay was born from a desire to redefine girl power, and more specifically, its place in the beauty industry. Founded by

Urban Decay’s outspoken co-founder and CEO isn’t afraid to go bold, both in her top-selling makeup brand and her girl-power messaging.



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Zomnir and Sandy Lerner in 1996, the Newport Beach, California-based brand was in large part a response to a maledominated corporate beauty culture. “We were women who wanted to shake up the world,” says Zomnir, who adds that the limited palettes available at the time — mainly pink, beige and red — inspired her to build a company focused on creating quality cosmetics in bright colors. “We definitely had a message to deliver about bad-ass women and about beauty itself.” That message is all about self-expression and inclusivity. A turning point in her life, Zomnir says, was at 16, when her parish priest told her she was “hiding behind a mask of makeup.” “I was like, ‘I’m not hiding at all, I’m telling you something about myself,’” she says. “The idea that you’re hiding something with makeup always felt wrong. The idea that only people with certain hair and skin colors are beautiful always felt wrong. A beauty company should be about celebrating women, not tearing them down.” In January, Zomnir won WWD Beauty Inc.’s first-ever Impact Award in recognition of her commitment to redefining beauty and her continued mission to empower women on a larger scale. Zomnir has taken her fight abroad with The Ultraviolet Edge, Urban Decay’s global initiative to empower women that supports seven different nonprofits around the world. The organizations provide education, microloans, support for domestic abuse victims and other assistance. To raise money for the nonprofits, Urban Decay creates a product sold for $18 to $20 and donates the entire purchase price. This year, it’s a lipstick that boasts a name close to Zomnir’s heart: “Outspoken.” “You know, we came up with that name before the #MeToo movement hit,” she says. “It just feels like it was meant to be.”

Urban Decay

Wende Zomnir (’89)

Tough love:

development team, and we sit

word. When she gets the text, she

Newport Beach, Calif.

Ernie Farr was the first teacher

around and have a name brain-

knows to put the word on the list.

who challenged me and inspired

storming. We have a shade library

me to be better. She had a

and put them into categories

Visit northtexan.unt.edu/online

reputation — if you could get an

like “Sex, Drugs and Rock ’n’

to learn more about The

A in her class, you could get an A

Roll.” Sometimes I’ll be driving

Ultraviolet Edge, read Zomnir’s

in any class.

down the street, and I’ll hear

top three beauty tips, find a

something on the radio or see a

description and photos of Urban

Stray Dog? Where those unusual Urban Decay product names come from:

street sign and a word will pop

Decay’s headquarters, nicknamed

into my head, and I think, “That’ll

“The Mothership,” and take a

be a great name.” There’s an

quiz to find out which Urban

There are 10 of us on the product

employee here, and I text her the

Decay product is perfect for you.

Choosing UNT: I started my college career at SMU, but I was looking for a bigger, diverse, sort of crazier university experience. UNT seemed like the right kind of place for that.

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THE MEAN GREEN football team is coming off one of its best seasons yet, winning nine games and claiming the Conference USA West championship. So, slip on your green shirt, warm up your Eagle Claw and head over to our stateof-the-art Apogee Stadium to cheer on the Mean Green as they take Conference USA by storm.


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



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Summer 2018


UNT’s Institute for the Advancement of the Arts fellows

Ranjani Groth

page 18

CRAFTER OF COCKTAILS After bringing laughs to audiences, alumna delights Dallas’ restaurant scene with her creative spirits.

Learn more about what drives Berry’s ingenuity as one of the most popular bartenders in DFW at northtexan.unt.edu/crafter-cocktails.

LEANN BERRY (’85) TRADED IN THE STAGE FOR the bar, but she says they are not much different. Berry, a drama major who toured nationally with the improv group The Wild Side and worked as a stand-up comic while living in New York, is now bar manager of the revamped Dallas restaurant The Cedars Social. She has won praise for her cocktails that incorporate unusual spirits — such as HooDoo chicory liqueur and infused tequila — with fresh ingredients such as hibiscus and elderflower. D Magazine named her Best Bartender in 2013 and 2015, and her tamarind margarita the best in Dallas. “The ease I had on stage helps with the ease I have behind the bar,” she says. “I’m a storyteller, and people love a good story.” Summer 2018





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Muse Books Street democracy From the 1970s to the 1990s, street vendors in Puebla, Mexico, had to be creative to defend their right to make a living in public spaces. They even used theater and film to convey their messages to the larger society. Sandra C. Mendiola Garcia, associate professor of history, explores their organizing tactics in Street Democracy: Vendors, Violence and Public Space in Late TwentiethCentury Mexico, part of The Mexican Experience series

(University of Nebraska Press). “Millions of people in Mexico and other parts of the world make a living in the informal economy,” she says. “I wanted to tell the stories of street vendors’ lives, dreams and how they organized politically.”

Building wealth

yet.” The authors give advice they have accrued at Grunden Financial Advisory Inc., where Ragan is vice president of financial planning and Grunden is president and CEO. Grunden attended UNT from 1970 to 1973. “Not everyone becomes wealthy through a lump sum inheritance,” Ragan says. “A lot of it is through hard work, and we provide actionable steps to help readers create that wealth.”

In the book The Wealth Builder Challenge (Grunden Financial Advisory Sweet surprise Inc.), adjunct Wendy Watprofessor Dave Ragan (’03) and son teaches Ricky Grunden Sr. write about in the struchow Stans and Henrys can tured world handle their money. of political Stans represent “spend today, science and all now” individuals and “Henoversees the rys” are “high earners, not rich chaos of an ice cream shop.

Watson, senior lecturer in political science, is the author of the Mysteries à la Mode series, which includes such titles as I Scream, You Scream and Scoop to Kill (Henery Press). She centered the stories around an ice cream parlor because she loves the dessert. The shop may remind readers of Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream on Denton’s downtown square, “though there are some very real differences — the body count, for example.” “I think people are surprised that I have this sort of ‘left brain/right brain’ life,” says Watson, who also is the prelaw advisor. “Political science is ordered and structured, and writing is fluid. Sometimes even I have a hard time moving between the two worlds.”

Time to create Four UNT professors will receive a semester off from teaching to work on personal projects — ranging from writing poetry to creating a virtual reality program — after receiving UNT’s Institute for the Advancement of the Arts fellowship for 2018-19. Bruce Bond, Regents Professor of English, second from left, will work on a book-length poem titled The Calling that explores the psychology of language and the way it affects people’s personal and political interactions. The book reflects Ranjani Groth

Bond’s desire to write longer poems. “You can break up the long arc of the poem into smaller portions that have an intensity and beauty to them,” he says. Jehanne Dubrow, associate professor of English, left, will write a collection of poems called Wild Kingdom, based on the world of academia. Dubrow will draw from her imagination and 10 years in academics. “I think certainly other academics will see their own experiences in the book,” she says. “And because I think these poems are about larger societal issues, they will resonate even with those who are no longer with an academic institution.” Alicia Eggert, assistant professor of studio art, second from right, will create new work for a solo exhibition in the summer of 2019 at Galeria Fernando Santos in Porto, Portugal. Eggert had a small solo exhibition there in the summer of 2017 after winning the Arts of Laguna Prize in 2016. She says she is both honored and humbled by this award and opportunity. “That feeling propels me to do my best work,” she says. David Stout, professor of composition and new media, right, will work on The Clearing, the latest piece in a series of hybrid virtual reality installations — but this work will emit sound and respond to the human voice. “You’re immersed in a world,” says Stout, who is coordinator for UNT’s Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts.“It is a plausible yet alien place with an architectural scale that is both intimate and unimaginably vast.”



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Summer 2018

Courtesy of Octavio Quintanilla

Making poetry visible Octavio Quintanilla (’01 Ph.D.) has tried different ways to express himself, such as creating abstract art and

playing the bass and guitar in a garage band. But he keeps returning to the written word. Now he’s the 2018-20 Poet Laureate for the city of San Antonio. “I am happy to be in this position, but I also feel a sense of responsibility about the work that lies ahead,” he says. As Poet Laureate, his aim is to make poetry visible in the community. He will work with the city’s arts and culture department to develop and implement a single signature initiative. His poetry, which often touches on the themes of identity and place, especially in his native South Texas, has been featured in several journals and his poetry collection If I Go Missing. He credits English professors Bruce Bond and Corey Marks for encouraging and supporting him. “Now I am here — a graduate of UNT, an associate professor of literature and creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University and San Antonio’s Poet Laureate,” he says. “It’s been a great journey.”

Dance and Theatre

Adriana Gonzalez Vega

Rebel artist

At 31, Bola Ogun has played many roles in Hollywood. The former UNT musical theatre major has been a production assistant for major films, including The Dark Knight Rises, and the TV show True Blood. She’s directed, written and produced short films such as The Water Phoenix and Are

We Good Parents?, which won her the AT&T Shape Emerging Filmmaker and Best Short Award. She also took part in Rebel Without a Crew, a g90 and El Rey Network TV series from director Robert Rodriguez, in which five filmmakers made a movie in two weeks on a tight budget. “The idea of making a feature for $7,000 was incredibly daunting, but it was an amazing learning experience and an opportunity to be mentored by Robert Rodriguez,” she says. “When I got the news they picked me, I was excited to see where this unexpected adventure was going to take me.”

Upcoming Events

UNT on the Square will feature several exhibitions during the summer and fall. Ground Zero 360: A 9/11 Retrospective, running through July 13, features the photographs of Nicola McClean taken during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City. Members of the Visual Arts Society of Texas will present all kinds of media at the 29th annual Juried Members Exhibition, July 23-Aug. 15. The juror for the show is photographer Lynné Bowman Cravens (’15 M.F.A.). The reception takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 24. Sincerely O’Neil: The Architect in his Words and Work, Aug. 21-Sept. 15, features photographs about the architecture of O’Neil Ford (’26), who designed UNT’s gazebo and other landmarks around Denton and the state. Learn more at untonthesquare.unt.edu. College of Music faculty members will perform in a series of free concerts as part of the Jazz Combo Camp set for 7 p.m. July 9-12 in the Paul Voertman Concert Hall in the Music Building. Mike Steinel (’82), associate professor of jazz studies, is the camp director. David Itkin will conduct the Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19, and Eugene Corporon will conduct the Wind Symphony at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27. Both concerts take place at the Winspear Performance Hall in the Murchison Performing Arts Center. For tickets, visit thempac.com. “Are You Not Entertained? Real Stories, Real People, Real Storytelling” is the theme of this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, set for July 2022 at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine. The event, hosted by the Frank W. Mayborn Institute of Journalism, will feature keynote speakers Diana B. Henriques, author of The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust; Lindy West (pictured), contributing essayist for The New York Times; and Christopher Goffard, feature writer for the Los Angeles Times and a multiple Pulitzer Prize finalist. Learn more about the conference, additional speakers and registration at themayborn.com.

Visit calendar.unt.edu for more upcoming events.

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Muse and I get to help tell the more powerful human stories,” she says.

Different beat

Music Wonderful world

Kathy Prichard

Dream job

Ashley Stansbury (’07) and Halei Parker (’07) recently worked on a cool gig. They collaborated with George Takei on his musical Allegiance this spring in Los Angeles. Stansbury, left, served as makeup designer and wigmaster and Parker as costume designer for the musical, which explores Takei’s family’s internment



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during World War II. Both describe working with Takei as a “dream.” And the theatre majors hope to land more positions in the fields they love. “Becoming a makeup artist is the perfect combination of art and makeup, as applying makeup isn’t much different than painting on a canvas,” says Stansbury, who would like to work on special effects for film and TV. Parker, second from left, has worked in film and TV, but especially enjoys the theatre. “It’s where people let me have the most creative freedom,



Summer 2018

Lisa Kahane

Courtesy of Otura Mun

Otura Mun’s music is definitely eclectic — combining the improvisational styles of jazz music and the rigidness of electronica, and inspired by the rumba music of his residence of Puerto Rico. His unique mix of music with the band ÌFÉ has been featured on NPR and the NBC News website. And it was heavily influenced by his time at UNT, where he was a member of the UNT drumline. “I’m using traditional African and Afro Cuban rhythms to make a modern African American statement,” says Mun, who attended UNT from 1993 to 1998 under the name of Mark Underwood. “Our story as human beings is one of interconnectedness and historic precedent.” UNT’s drumline was a frequent winner of the Percussion Arts Society International Competition in the 1980s and 1990s. Mun says percussion teachers Paul Rennick (’94 M.M.) and Robert Schietroma, who is now retired, helped shape his musical trajectory. His UNT connections stay strong today. Mike Duffy, his drumline teammate who attended UNT from 1993 to 1997, introduced him to executives at LP Percussion, which signed Mun to an endorsement deal. “There’s nothing else like UNT out there,” Mun says.

Thirst for success

As executive director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Michael Cogswell (’89 M.M.) oversaw everything from its multimillion dollar renovation to picking up the trash. After 27 years, Cogswell retired from the position that was a perfect fit for him. At UNT, he was able to substitute jazz studies courses in the graduate musicology degree plan to create a unique “jazz history” degree. He also wrote the book Louis Armstrong: The Offstage Story of Satchmo. He began establishing the Louis Armstrong archives in 1991, and in 2017 saw the construction of the visitors center, which sits across from Armstrong’s home in a working class neighborhood in Queens. “It has been tremendously fulfilling, personally and professionally, to participate in the growth, over 27 years, from ‘good idea’ to international cultural destination,” says Cogswell, who was named an Honored Alumnus by the College of Music in 2012.

Michael Gause (’14) has wanted to play in a major symphony orchestra since grade school. Now the trumpet player has been named a Detroit Symphony Orchestra African American Orchestra Fellow for 2018-19. During the fellowship, Gause will perform with the orchestra and participate in administrative elements, such as observing audition committees and being involved with the community outreach programs. Gause, who is working on his doctorate at Michigan State University, has performed with the Youngstown Symphony in Ohio and was a semi-finalist in the National Trumpet Competition. He says UNT’s College of Music provided him with the foundation to experience the real world of music. “This environment created the perfect opportunity for me to gauge how much my work ethic aligned with my thirst for success and if I wanted to continue down the path I had chosen,” he says.


Talking head

Dan Franks’ (’08) career in podcasting began at his accounting firm. Franks, a certified public accountant, was working at Beaird Harris & Co. in Dallas when he and a co-worker were discussing their love for podcasts. In

Visual Arts Artist and advocate

Giovanni Valderas

Television and Film

2013, they created their own show about the business world, Entrepreneur Showdown. Now Franks (pictured right with movie director Kevin Smith) has created multiple podcasts, including Men Seeking Tomahawks, and he co-founded the Podcast Movement, an annual gathering of more than 2,000 podcasters from around the world. “The beautiful thing about the medium is that there are no gatekeepers restricting who can do it,” he says. “Anyone can start a podcast about anything they want, and if it is interesting enough, an audience will follow.”

Giovanni Valderas (’07, ’12 M.F.A.) is concerned that housing is becoming unaffordable in Dallas. So he placed piñatas in front of new housing construction around the Oak Cliff neighborhood to show what could be lost to developers in the largely Latino area.

His work helped earn him the 2017 Moss/Chumley North Texas Artist Award. The prize is given to artists who have exhibited professionally for 10 years and advocate for the arts. The judges specifically cited his Casitas Tristes (Sad Little Houses) project. Valderas also has taught at UNT, served on the Dallas Cultural Affairs Commission, and now works as assistant director at Kirk Hopper Fine Art in Dallas. “Artists draw influence from their community, often channeled into their work, which in turn pulsates back into the world,” he says. “Because of this kindred relationship, they automatically inherit their role as advocate.”

Movie maker As programmer andfrom creative director of forVisual AlamoArts Drafthouse in had Fivethe illustrious alumni the College and Design Dallas-Fort Worth, James Wallace comes up withof ideas the movie their artwork highlighted during (’08) the grand opening UNTfor ArtSpace Dallas. theater’snewest themegallery nights.is located in the lobby of the renovated UNT Systems CVAD’s “A lot of best ideas startinas jokes, where we’ll all laugh, take a pause Building atour 1901 Main Street Dallas. and“We then are like, ‘No waitwith ... weresidents actually have to doand that,’” he says. “Like are excited to … share of Dallas surrounding areas those things thattoseem crazy orfrom silly at firsttalented thought,faculty but then that’s the opportunity viewso artworks UNT’s and alumni,” what makes usofwho are — the movie theater that does crazybrings stuff like says Director UNTwe Galleries Tracee Robertson. “This gallery thea Muppets Manhattan/Jason Manhattan oncommuFriday College ofTake Visual Arts and DesignTakes closer to Dallas double and thefeature outlying the 13th.” nities.” Alamo Drafthouse, with 35 locations acrossbut thewelcomed nation, has spent 21 years The gallery officially opened in December visitors from Alamo Drafthouse

creating offbeat movie experiences, and it is the perfect job for Wallace. As Denton, Dallas and surrounding a child, loved theopening, excitement of seeing movies like Back to the Askari Future and areas forhethe grand which featured the works of Shirin on thealumna big screen. a radio-TV-film student in professor Harry (Star 08),Wars a fashion and As former Benshoff’s classes, he learned howFridge to analyze Project Runway participant; Brian ( 94),movies, explored genre film — and was inspired to go intoamong film journalism. Afterat graduation, heMuseum wrote forof local outletsArt likeinthe Dallas The Dallas( 06 Morning News andpaintings Central Track whose videos are exhibited, other places, the Whitney American New York;Observer, Howard Sherman M.F.A.), whose are and for several national online exhibited internationally; Erickoutlets. Swenson ( 99), a sculptor best known for his polyurethane resin sculptures of animals; and Dana Tanamachi ( 07), known was in covering film festivals in Austin years agoA that hadCollege his firstof experience with Alamo So whenby Alamo opened theaters in Dallas-Fort forIther chalk lettering and work with Target10and Nike. trio he of the Music’s excellent jazzDrafthouse. musicians headed graduate student Gabriel Evans Worth inmake 2013,the he evening knew it was the place for him. helped special. “It was just unlike any other movie theater I had ever experienced,” he says. “You could tell that it was run by people who loved movies.” For more information, visit gallery.unt.edu/exhibitions/artspace-dallas. The chain boasts another UNT connection — Wylee Wooldridge (’13) serves as DFW communications manager — and Wallace regularly runs into Benshoff at the theater. Wallace hopes that Dentonites will enjoy the Alamo Drafthouse as much as he does at the new Denton location, which opened this summer. “I remember being a kid and being so in awe of that experience of going to the movie theater to see these movies that became such an important part of my life,” Wallace says. “So now to get to personally be a part of that experience for moviegoers, and even help craft and curate it, is what it’s all about.” Summer 2018





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Story by Erin Cristales Photography by Michael Clements

STARTUP VOCABULARY Accelerator: In an accelerator, a seed investment is made in return for equity, usually between $15,000-$50,000. Startups end an accelerator program with a demo day in which they pitch to investors. Angel investor: An individual who provides a small amount of capital for a stake in the company. Typically precedes a seed round and usually happens when the startup is in its infancy. Bootstrapping: Funding a company only by reinvesting initial profits.

Disruptor: A way to describe a product or technology that will change its marketplace.

Scale: The ability of a company to maintain or increase its level of performance when tested by larger operational demands.

Exit: How startup founders get rich. It’s the method by which an investor and/or entrepreneur intends to “exit” their investment in a company. Common options are an IPO or buyout from another company.

Seed: The first official round of financing for a startup. At this point, a company is usually raising funds for proof of concept and/or to build out a prototype.

Friends and family: An investment in a company that often follows the founder’s own investment, made by people who are investing primarily because of their relationship with the founder.

Venture capital: Significant sums of money — typically in the $500,000 to $3 million range — provided by venture capital firms to small, high-risk startup companies with major growth potential.

Investment, collaboration, corporations and access to talent — not to mention industry-disrupting, entrepreneurial UNT alums — are driving innovation culture in DFW with impacts in the state and beyond.


s the clock crawls closer to 9, the folding chairs that line floor 14 of Ross Tower fill with established and would-be entrepreneurs. The gathering crowd is part of the hundreds who have trekked to downtown Dallas for Techstars Startup Week, a conference designed to bolster business innovation by offering workshops on everything from digital retail and health care to augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Although it’s an unexpectedly dreary April morning, the atmosphere inside is cheery, especially as the week’s opening session kicks off. Titled “Insight from Repeat Offenders,” it’s a panel of serial entrepreneurs that features Dave Copps (’91), the founder and former CEO of three companies including Addison-based investigative analytics firm Brainspace, acquired by Cyxtera in 2017 as part of a $2.8 billion deal. (Watch for a profile of Copps in the fall issue.) He is exactly the kind of startup success story many here hope to become, and the entire point of the panel is to explain how he got here. So he begins where all companies do: with ideas. “That initial idea is all about commitment,” says Copps, who earned his B.A. in anthropology at UNT, where he exercised his executive acumen as the first president of the campus Entrepreneurs Club. “Most companies die between your ears because they never get out.”

KICKSTARTING IDEAS Of course, ideas also tend to perish without the resources to support them. But over the past decade, the North Texas region has transformed into a place where tech startups spring to life. Granted, DFW isn’t Silicon Valley — yet. But every year, its rankings rise in key areas that drive innovation. There’s the influx of capital from angel investors, seed accelerators and venture capital firms — and the need for more. “We wouldn’t have started a VC firm in Dallas if we didn’t believe there was opportunity,” says Kevin Stevens (’11), who co-founded Intelis Capital in 2017. “We’re entrepreneurs, too.” There’s collaboration in the form of makerspaces, incubators and co-working spaces, including TechMill Denton, formerly

RECENT DFW RANKINGS #2: CB Richard Ellis’ report on the U.S.’ biggest data centers (2017) #6: CB Richard Ellis’ Annual Tech Talent Scorecard (2016) #7: Forbes’ Best Places to Launch a Business (2018) #10: Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers (2017) #11: Kaufmann Index of Startup Activity (2017) Sources: CB Richard Ellis; Dallas Chamber of Commerce

led by Kyle Taylor (’12), which partners with Denton-based Stoke Coworking to host events and workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs. UNT recently revamped the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which is set to become “a leading resource for the North Texas region — partnering with a range of ventures, from innovative ideas to early stage growth companies, while also building bridges with the investor community at large,” says Jon McCarry (’01), its senior director. There’s access to talent provided by area universities, including the 9,000 students who graduate from UNT each year. The university is ensuring graduates are ready to tackle careers in the ecosystem by adding new degree programs like data science and advanced data analytics, increasing its collaborative partnerships with companies such as NetDragon and Toyota, and expanding its reach with locations across the region. Those locations include UNT’s New College at Frisco — a thriving mecca for Fortune 1000 companies — and a new branch campus, announced in May as part of UNT’s “public-public” partnership with the city of Frisco and its Frisco Economic and Community Development corporations that is expected to serve at least 5,000 students. (Read more about the new branch campus on page 6.) Then there are the big-name corporations, including 22 Fortune 500 companies,

Roden uses Denton-based Stoke Coworking — a space where UNT alums and staff provide mentoring to aspiring entrepreneurs — as a meeting place for ReadyRosie. Read more about how the Denton startup community is making the most of Stoke at northtexan.unt.edu/tech-startups#extras.

that call DFW home. The university is working to help students and faculty garner attention from industry executives with initiatives like the Innovator Awards, sponsored by the Office of Research and Innovation, which encourage the campus community to show off their cutting-edge ideas. Ryan Girardot (’17), a 2017 winner for his EPLAY sports app, learned the ins and outs of pitching his product from Mike Rondelli, associate vice president for innovation and commercialization. “The university is committed to supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of our students, faculty and alumni,” says Rondelli, who also will serve as a judge at this year’s CodeLaunch, a seed accelerator competition for those with software tech startup ideas that is cosponsored by UNT. “As the demand for tech-savvy, forwardthinking innovators increases, the UNT community will

Emily Roden (’01) Founder, ReadyRosie

continue to make significant contributions to the region’s expanding startup ecosystem.” Finally, there are the UNT alums who leveraged DFW’s many resources, some as students, to launch their industry-disrupting ideas. With innovations ranging from privacy apps to eLearning platforms to product visualization software, these entrepreneurs pumped up the North Texas region’s reputation in the process. They are the embodiment of Copps’ final piece of advice, which itself echoes the wisdom of another successful business: “Just do it.”

TAPPING LOCAL TALENT On Rosemary Roden’s first day of kindergarten, her mom sent her off to school with a few half-joking words of encouragement. “No pressure,” Emily Roden (’01) told her, “but you better be ready, girl.” After all, Rosemary is the namesake of ReadyRosie, a digital platform Roden launched in 2012 to help families support learning outcomes outside of the classroom. A comprehensive family-engagement solution for schools, Denton-based ReadyRosie offers 1,200-plus video tips for parents that encourage meaningful interactions with their child. The idea was born from Roden’s experience as a working mom who, despite earning a degree in music education from UNT, worried she wasn’t always engaging in intentional, planned activities with her daughter. “I’d go to bed thinking, ‘Did I really connect with her or teach her anything today?’” Roden says. “Here I was as a teacher, feeling inept, and I thought how much more so for a parent who doesn’t have the background to understand our educational system?” So in 2011, she left her job at Pearson Education and filmed three videos with assistance from UNT’s media arts department. She showed the finished clips to Denton, Richardson and Arlington ISDs for feedback.

“I asked, ‘Do you think this will help get kids ready for school?’” Roden recalls. “All three districts said, ‘Yes — if you build this, we will buy it.’ That gave us the green light.” A bootstrap company, ReadyRosie started out with the three school districts, three employees, and an initial investment of $10,000, made by Roden and her husband, Kevin (’98), a former assistant director of student life at UNT’s Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) and a mentor at Stoke. Now the company has 17 employees and serves more than 400 school districts and Head Start programs. Roden was twice invited to the White House during the Obama administration to take part in conversations about how to close the opportunity gap for ethnic minority and low-income students. The “spirit of excellence and achievement” that surrounded Roden during her time in the College of Music — routinely ranked as one of the nation’s best — has instilled in her “a drive and work ethic that is still very much a part of my day-to-day life.” As a consummate educator, she wants to provide up-and-coming UNT talent with real-world experiences that champion the same exceptional expectations. To achieve that goal, Roden routinely hires media arts students as interns to film some of ReadyRosie’s clips and graphic design students to create promotional pieces. It keeps the company’s costs reasonable, while also preparing students for the realities of the local startup ecosystem. “It’s a win-win,” Roden says.

“That was the very first iteration of what CalcuQuote would eventually become,” says Sutaria, who graduated with a B.S. in business administration from the University of Southern California. A decade later, after speaking with potential customers, he officially launched CalcuQuote, a cloud-based quote management system that helps electronics contract manufacturers increase the speed and accuracy of the quotation process. While traditional RFQ can take anywhere from a day to weeks, Dallas-based CalcuQuote’s direct integration with component distributors determines the price and availability of the components needed for electronic assembly within minutes. “When we first started, it was hard to get traction because people didn’t believe something like this could exist,” Sutaria says. But Sutaria is turning contract manufacturers into believers. CalcuQuote launched in early 2015 with two customers; by the end of 2016, it had 30. Now, the company has more than 70 clients with the goal of hitting 100 by the end of 2018.

ENGAGING IN COLLABORATION Even as a kid working summers at his dad’s contract manufacturing company, Chintan Sutaria (’05 TAMS) recognized the tediousness of the request-for-quotation (RFQ) process. So as a second-year student at TAMS, he decided to confront an obvious problem with an obvious solution: a spreadsheet model that streamlined the process.

Chintan Sutaria (’05 TAMS) Founder and president, CalcuQuote

View an interactive timeline of UNT alums, including Sutaria, who have founded tech startups over the past decade at northtexan.unt.edu/tech-startups-timeline.

As an undergrad, Stauffer found inspiration at UNT’s Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Read more about plans for the revamped center at northtexan.unt.edu/ tech-startups#extras.

Sutaria doesn’t foresee any problems reaching that mark — or his goal of building a company that is “sustainable, scalable and valuable” — thanks to the mentoring and investment he’s received from the DFW startup community. While about half of the funds he raised for CalcuQuote were through the friends-and-family route, the rest came from entities such as Dallas-based Venn Ventures. “The startup community here is phenomenal,” says Sutaria, who occasionally returns to campus to impart his entrepreneurial experiences at events like TAMS career nights. “There were so many showcase events I could go to, like New Tech and 1 Million Cups. You learn how to pitch your business to a broader audience.”

FINDING INVESTORS When Jesse Stauffer (’15) told his dad about Bitzy, an ephemeral social media platform the UNT junior was creating with his brother, Casey (’15), he suggested the two call Mark Cuban to pitch a partnership. Stauffer laughed off the advice.

Jesse Stauffer (’15) Co-founder and CEO, Xpire

“I remember thinking, ‘That will never happen,’” he says. But a year later, Stauffer wanted an expert opinion on Bitzy, and who better to ask, he figured, than Cuban, the DFW tech scene’s most recognizable name. So he tried nearly 50 different email combinations — mcuban, mark.cuban, markcuban — and sent his message into the void. Fewer than 24 hours later, as he sat in history class, Stauffer’s phone dinged. It was a response from Cuban. “I just got up and left,” Stauffer says. “I couldn’t really deal with it in the moment. I was like, ‘This is crazy.’” Following a few email exchanges, Cuban invited the Stauffer brothers to a Mavericks game. After that, he told them he wanted to partner. With Cuban’s undisclosed seed investment, Bitzy became Xpire, an app that works with existing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Xpire allows users to create self-deleting posts, permanently delete old posts, and judge the appropriateness of their posts based on the app’s Social Scoring algorithm. Stauffer launched the Dallas-based company in June 2014, nearly a year before he earned his B.S. in computer science. Although he says his experiences in the computer science program prepared him for his role as CEO, the days leading up to the launch were filled with nervous anticipation, especially as all eyes were on Xpire due to Cuban’s involvement. “To go from building something in my bedroom to all of a sudden being on the national news, it was nerve-wracking,” he says. “I’d have these dreams at night where I’d be like, ‘My servers are crashing.’” Four years later, Stauffer continues to finetune Xpire. He is working to add artificial intelligence capabilities that will enable the app to read phrases with more nuance and recognize potentially damaging photos. Casey, who also earned a B.S. in computer science, still pitches in when he’s not working full-time as a product manager at Pivotal Labs. As an early advocate of digital privacy,

INNOVATION OBSERVATIONS: THE DFW TECH ECOSYSTEM BY THE NUMBERS Stauffer is finally seeing the rest of the world catch on. In the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, Xpire experienced a small upswing in downloads. He hopes the trend continues. “People are so used to downloading everything for free,” Stauffer says, “they don’t realize they’re paying with their personal information.”

ACCESS TO TALENT The region has 15 major universities and 7 community college districts. UNT graduated 9,000 students this year with four-year degrees. The university’s alumni network includes 407,000 members, with 274,000 who live in the DFW area and power the region’s workforce/economy.


BUILDING CONNECTIONS In her office, situated within Dallasbased RevTech’s co-working space, Nicole Mossman (’13) apologizes for the cardboard boxes stacked against the wall. “We’ve done a couple of big trade shows this year, and I haven’t unpacked from the last one,” she sighs, gesturing to the pile. Mossman’s last trade show was less than a month before in Las Vegas, where she marketed her startup EverThread to potential retail clients. “The feedback was just incredible,” she says. In fact, Mossman says positive feedback has been pouring in from retailers who have viewed EverThread, a product visualization platform designed to improve e-commerce consumer engagement. The cloud-based asset management technology allows retailers to show all views and variations of their products and gives customers the ability to mix and match products across categories — like a sofa, throw pillows and area rug — in a virtual environment. But EverThread wasn’t built on this idea. When the company launched in 2014, it was a direct-to-consumer home textile retailer. As Mossman and her team began to design their website, she concluded that to be successful, they needed to build out technology that could show consumers what they were buying dynamically in real time. To test the theory, she showed the site to Fortune 500 retailers in her network. “I asked, ‘Is this something large retail would be interested in?’” says Mossman, who holds a B.A.A.S. degree in fashion




At 32.2 percent, DFW hosts one-third of all hightech jobs in Texas, the most in the state. The area has the 5th fastest-growing high-tech workforce and the 7th largest community of high-tech workers in the U.S. — topped only by New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. UNT added 7 new tech- and business-centric degree programs this year.

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY DFW consistently ranks as a low-cost, low-tax and high-quality corporate environment, which has attracted 22 Fortune 500 headquarters and 42 Fortune 1000 headquarters. A Carnegie-ranked Tier One research institution, UNT attracts top faculty and student researchers, as well as industry partners from around the world, and generates an economic impact of $1.65 billion in DFW each year.



INVESTMENT The DFW area is ranked 14th in the country in overall funding with $5.4 billion in investments since 2010. DFW is ranked 10th in the country in return on investment (ROI) made to these businesses.

COLLABORATION Currently, the region has 62 coworking spaces (up from 13 in 2014), 81 executive offices, 40 incubators/ accelerators, 24 innovation/experience centers and 18 makerspaces. UNT has its own on-campus accelerator, the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which aims to spur innovation throughout the North Texas region. And UNT collaborates with Hickory & Rail Ventures, which manages Denton’s Stoke Coworking.


Mossman presented at this year’s Techstars Startup Week, along with other UNT alums and current and former faculty members. Read their expert takes on the DFW startup scene and their specific industries at northtexan.unt.edu/tech-startups#extras.

design, marketing and behavioral analysis from UNT, which she says gave her a deeper understanding of marketing to businesses and brand experience. “The answer was yes. After having this conversation with multiple retail executives, we realized what we really had was a tech company.” So Mossman pivoted, and in late 2017, rebranded EverThread as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for retailers and brands. The company, which has accrued nearly $1 million in capital, currently has several pending adoption deals with major retailers nationwide. And the corporate connections just keep growing. In March, it was announced that EverThread was selected to take part in the New York Fashion Tech Lab, where female tech entrepreneurs are paired with brands and retailers like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Kohl’s. The 12-week program culminated with a demo day June 7.

Nicole Mossman (’13) Founder and CEO, EverThread

“Yes, it gives us access to potential investment opportunities,” Mossman says, “but more importantly, the Lab allows us to build awareness of who we are, what we’re doing and what our technology can do.”

RAISING FUNDS For five years, Jill Schriefer (’91, ’93 M.B.A.) and her husband, Tavis, took care of Tavis’ mother, who suffered from the early stages of dementia. Schriefer noticed one of her mother-in-law’s triggers was unsolicited phone calls, which would leave her rattled for days. “We started talking to other friends who had family members with cognitive problems,” Schriefer says. “They were having similar issues. Me, my husband and our other two co-founders thought, ‘We all have telecommunications backgrounds. Maybe we can do something about this.’” So in 2016, Schriefer started teleCalm, a phone service for families dealing with dementia that intercepts unapproved calls and routes them to the caregiver’s cell phone. The service prevents loved ones from falling prey to scammers, engaging in repeated dialing or unintentionally calling late at night. “It avoids isolation for your loved one but gives caregivers peace of mind,” Schriefer says. Armed with a bachelor’s and master’s in business administration from UNT, Schriefer knew she had more than just a great idea — she also had the know-how to effectively launch teleCalm, including raising the necessary funds. “It helps for investors to see that we have some idea of what we’re talking about,” Schriefer says. “It’s not just, ‘We have this really cool idea, give us money.’” The Plano-based company has received funding through its participation in Dallasbased Tech Wildcatters, a seed accelerator — co-founded by Gabriella Draney Zielke (’02) — that invests money and resources in promising startups. In March, teleCalm became an accelerator company with Austinbased Capital Factory, which opened a Dallas location this spring.

“We’ve pitched or applied to every major angel group in the state,” Schriefer says. “It’s exhausting.” But that tenacity is literally paying off. An initial pre-seed investment of $150,000 allowed teleCalm to launch its service. Now, they have raised 64 percent toward a $400,000 seed round, most of which will go to sales and marketing. Since October 2017, teleCalm has seen more than 20 percent month-over-month subscriber growth. “It feels like we’re on the precipice,” says Schriefer, who notes the ultimate goal is exit by acquisition within the next three to five years. “We’ve gotten great word of mouth and have several big deals brewing. There’s a lot that can be done with this technology.”

There is a whole new generation of female students who, like Schriefer, are interested in being tech innovators. See a video of area middle and high schoolers who learned about computer science and engineering at UNT’s Discovery Park as part of the girls-only STEM @ the Park at northtexan.unt.edu/tech-startups#video.

‘TIME TO SING’ It’s only Wednesday, but Techstars has already hosted more than 70 future-focused discussions. Mossman took part in a panel the day before, to discuss digital retail. Stauffer’s been in attendance, too, for what he calls DFW’s “mini SXSW.” Now it’s time for “The State of Entrepreneurship,” the week’s crowning event, in which the startup community converges on Dallas’ Majestic Theatre to celebrate the year’s top triumphs. It’s a packed house. The evening’s keynote speaker, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, begins by listing all the things that make the region’s innovation culture strong: investment, corporations, talent, low cost of living. “We have the DNA for startups,” the former Pizza Hut CEO tells the crowd. But there’s one important step left, he advises: trumpeting the trailblazers — like Roden, Sutaria, Stauffer, Mossman and Schriefer — who call DFW home. “We have to cheer each other on,” Rawlings insists to knowing applause. “It’s time to sing about the startup community here.”

Jill Schriefer (’91, ’93 M.B.A.) Co-founder and vice president of customer success, teleCalm

Read about Ryan Douglas (’04), a UNT alumnus who works as vice president of operations at fast-growing Plano-based startup OpenKey while also building his own startup, CampReward.com, on the weekends at northtexan.unt.edu/ryan-douglas.



The Bright Lights of UNT During its Wingspan Gala, the university honored alumni, faculty, students and friends who have advanced excellence.

The university transformed into the Big Apple during this year’s Wingspan Gala — themed “The Bright Lights of UNT” — which celebrated excellence in teaching, student success, and the support of alumni and friends. Tony Award-nominated singer and actress Carmen Cusack, who attended UNT in the early 1990s as an opera student, performed at the event where she also received an honorary bachelor’s degree. Business alum Jim McNatt (’66) received the Presidential Wings of Eagles Award for the transformative impact his support has made on the university. Art history professor Nada Shabout and recent UNT Honors College graduate Krystin Rodriguez (’17) both received Presidential Excellence awards for their significant accomplishments. “Wingspan provided wonderful opportunities to celebrate See a slideshow from the gala and watch UNT’s excellence,” President Neal Smatresk says. “We could not be videos about the presidential awardees at the caring, creative university our students expect and deserve northtexan.unt.edu/wingspan-gala2018. without support from our friends and donors.”

Left: President Neal Smatresk and Vice President for Advancement David Wolf present the Wings of Eagles Presidential Award to Jim McNatt (’66). Top row: Singer and actress Carmen Cusack, who attended UNT in the early 1990s, performs in the “Limelight Lounge.” Middle row: Presidential Excellence Award honorees Krystin Rodriguez (’17), left, and Professor Nada Shabout with Smatresk, right; attendees pass by Broadway posters that bring a touch of “Bright Lights” to the Union. Bottom row: Cusack receives an honorary bachelor’s degree from Smatresk, Wolf and College of Music Dean John Richmond. Photos by Michael Clements and Ahna Hubnik

For nontraditional students, the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program provides the exibility to earn a diploma while meeting work and family obligations.

Ranjani Groth

Robert Maynard (’15)

A Degree in

Perseverance by Jessica DeLeón


Robert Maynard (’15) was stuck. He had an associate degree in graphic design from Arapahoe Community College in Colorado, but he couldn’t land a job that paid more than $8 an hour in 2009’s tough economy. The single dad wanted something more for himself and his young son, Seth. So he and UNT counselor Trey Anderson collaborated to figure out a plan. Maynard would work toward a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree, a program aimed at nontraditional students who have about 45 or more hours of previous college credits. Advising counselors work with students to find classes at convenient times, and students focus on three areas of concentration that will build on their interests and make them more attractive to potential employers. In Maynard’s case, the areas were construction management, emergency planning and criminal justice. For six years, he attended one night class each semester at UNT while working full time. He now works as a crude oil logistics scheduler for Bridger Logistics in Plano. “The journey was long,” he says. “It was tedious. I did have some frustrating times when I wanted to quit, but I stuck it out.” The program — which was established in the 1970s and is now part of the New College, UNT’s newest college — often attracts military veterans and individuals

trying to obtain better jobs like Maynard. “Our goal is to take students and figure out how the academic experiences they’ve had can be used toward getting a bachelor’s degree,” says Peggy Shadduck, faculty director of the applied arts and sciences program.

Hard work, memorable times Maynard knew he had to be organized to get his degree. He worked with his bosses — first at a construction firm, then at Peterbilt — to adjust his schedule so he could come in late and leave early, depending on the class. He met with Anderson each semester to make sure he was taking the right classes. A steer wrestler and team roper, he even completed homework on his laptop while on the road to rodeo events. Maynard’s hard work brought in high grades and invitations from the Phi Sigma Pi honor fraternity, Golden Key honor society and others. He also attended football games with Seth and participated in service events, such as collecting school supplies for Teach for America. “I had many more memorable experiences at UNT than at my first college,” he says. Maynard’s six years at the university culminated in his B.A.A.S. degree, which he received in December 2015. “Graduating was a big accomplishment,”

he says. “It made me proud to have my son and family there.” Now his son, Seth, just graduated from high school, and Maynard is raising two other boys with his new wife Christina while working with the Bridger Group, which oversees crude oil in Texas, New Mexico and other parts of the U.S. “Having this degree opened so many doors for me in the workforce,” he says.

Taking the next step Like Maynard, La Toya Rowell (’15) faced a career dilemma. For 12 years, she worked hard at Comerica Bank in Dallas, advancing from administrative assistant to business affairs coordinator. Career advancement was always top of mind for Rowell. But one thing stood in the way. She only had an associate degree in multimedia design from the Art Institute of Dallas. “I knew I needed a bachelor’s degree to take the next step in my career,” she says. Now Rowell is a national external affairs coordinator for the bank, where she oversees community-related events and programs. She appreciated the flexibility of UNT’s B.A.A.S. program, which allowed her to take online courses and build on her associate degree hours to complete the degree in three years. She went full blast in her classes, graduating cum laude.

Summer 2018





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La Toya Rowell (’15)

Ranjani Groth

Peter Dewing (’08) Ranjani Groth

“I have the type of personality, if I’m going to make a grade, it’s an A,” she says. “I didn’t sleep for a couple of years.” She took two classes each semester, with concentrations in nonprofit management, volunteer management and public administration. She also earned a volunteer management certification. “The program gave me a behind-thescenes look at nonprofits,” she says. “I learned how much time and effort it takes for nonprofits to conceptualize, design and plan programs for their communities.” Rowell’s achievements also led to her selection as a 2018 fellow in the New Leaders Council, a national program that trains professionals to run for office, manage campaigns, and create startups and networks of thought leaders. In her current job at Comerica, she spearheads the annual Comerica Gift of Knowledge program, in which Dallas students receive seed money to start a savings account after completing an online financial education program. She also traveled to Detroit for the Spirit of Frida awards, which she helped to plan and coordinate, to celebrate the extraordinary work of Hispanic women who are trailblazers in their field. “I love my job,” she says.

A good fit

Angela McClure (’08)

Fresenius Medical Care North America

Peter Dewing (’08) had just left class when he approached his professor, Marcy Haag (’06 Ph.D.). “You know what, I think I might run for mayor,” Dewing, who previously served in the nonprofit sector and the military, told Haag. “If you want to, do it,” responded Haag, a former interim dean in UNT’s College of Health and Public Service. “She encouraged me to run if I was running based on principles, not for other purposes,” says Dewing, who at the time was pursuing his B.A.A.S. degree with concentrations in applied economics,

HOW THE B.A.A.S. PROGRAM WORKS marketing and management. So just a few months later, Dewing ran for mayor of Northlake, a suburb near Denton — and won. He says the advantage of the B.A.A.S. degree for him was the opportunity to study a variety of subjects rather than just one major. “The program focused on what I liked,” he says. “It was more realistic.” Dewing entered the Marine Corps in 1982 on his 17th birthday, after obtaining his GED. He served in a variety of roles in the military — from infantryman to company commander — in locations around the world. At his last station in Cincinnati, he worked extensively with nonprofits and started the Marine Benevolent Association for deployed military families in need of assistance during the Iraq War. He retired in 2005 and went to work for a logistics company. In 2007, he wanted to earn his bachelor’s degree. Dewing had previously earned an associate degree in general studies from Central Texas College, and Anderson worked to see that he received 130 credit hours for his college and military experience. It took Dewing only a year-and-a-half to earn his degree. As the mayor of Northlake, while still a student, he oversaw the town’s growth from rural ranch community to thriving suburb. After graduating from UNT, Dewing attended Southern Methodist University to earn his law degree, helpful for his governmental work. He still uses lessons, such as negotiation tactics, he learned from the classes he took at UNT and says teachers like Haag, marketing associate professor Charles Blankson and public administration lecturer Leslie Roberts were an invaluable source of support. “They were very open to students and passionate about what they were teaching,” Dewing says. “This program was a good fit for me.”

Fortitude and focus As an executive recruiter, Angela McClure (’08) made good money and was never denied a promotion because she lacked a college degree. Still, she spent three years balancing a full-time job and a family with two young children to get her diploma. “It was important to me to complete what I started,” she says. “I knew that I would be limited on future advancement opportunities without a bachelor’s degree.” Now she’s the chief experience officer for Waltham, Mass.-based Fresenius Medical Care North America, which provides kidney products and services at 2,400 dialysis facilities around the country. McClure had previously attended Stephen F. Austin University, but she paused her education after two years for family reasons. She chose UNT because her father — Richard Charles Smith (’61, ’67), a certified public accountant who still works at age 73 — is an alumnus. And, with the exception of a great-aunt, no other woman in her family had a college degree. A counselor told her about the B.A.A.S. program, which she chose because it offered flexibility for a variety of career roles and sectors. She took two to three classes each semester in the areas of management, human resources and organizational behavior. “I had a lot of fortitude, focus and perseverance, and I made sure that I organized my day in such a way that my family came first,” McClure says. “While other people were sleeping at night, I was studying and writing papers.” Soon after graduation, she received a call from a recruiter asking her to consider a job with Physiotherapy Associates in Philadelphia. She worked there for four years before going to Fresenius, where she was promoted to chief experience officer, developing strategies to improve patient, employee, physician and customer experience. “My UNT degree offered me flexibility,” McClure says, “and it provided a wellrounded base I used to launch my career.”

Many of the students enrolled in UNT’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program are nontraditional students who want to obtain their college degrees, and the advising counselors and faculty work with each one to make that happen. Students can transfer previous college credits, as well as obtain credit from military experience. The advising counselors try to figure out the missing pieces and find the courses — whether traditional, online, evening or weekend — that fit with a student’s schedule. Say a cosmetologist has an associate degree, but she wants to launch her own business or advance in a corporation. The advising counselors will work with her to come up with three 12-credit-hour concentrations, such as entrepreneurship, basic business administration and communication, so she can earn the B.A.A.S. “We look at where this person is, where they want to go, and fill that gap so they can earn a bachelor’s degree,” says Peggy Shadduck, faculty director of the applied arts and sciences program for UNT’s New College. But what if someone attended college 25 years ago? “We’re going to sit down with that person and review transcripts,” Shadduck says. “We start with the positive, ‘What do you have?’ and build from that.” Learn more at unt.edu/baas.


Janet Bracken (’14) hadn’t been in a classroom for 30 years when she entered her ethics class. “I was scared to death walking into that class, but it melted away in five minutes,” she says. Learn how Bracken’s love for UNT and community service inspired her to pursue a B.A.A.S. degree and how she received the help she needed to graduate at northtexan.unt.edu/online.

Rick Yeatts

Winners are honored at the second annual Scrappy Awards, which took place April 30 in the Union Ballroom. The event celebrates UNT student-athletes, with administrators, coaches and fans weighing in on the year’s top performances.

Student-athletes fly high Mean Green football, soccer players take home top honors at second annual Scrappy Awards ceremony

Read more about UNT athletics and purchase tickets at meangreensports.com.



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UNT student-athletes Mason Fine and Dominique James walked away with top honors at the second annual Scrappy Awards, a program in which administrators, coaches and fans weigh in on the year’s top performances by UNT teams and individual players. Fine, now entering his junior year, was voted “Male StudentAthlete of the Year” and “Football MVP” for his key role in the Mean Green’s successful 2017 season. The quarterback finished with 4,052 passing yards and was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year. James, also a junior, was voted “Female Student-Athlete of the Year” and “Soccer MVP” for her role in leading the women’s soccer team to the C-USA championship and NCAA tournament. She also was named defensive MVP of the C-USA tournament and helped the team secure the Scrappy for “Team of the Year.” “These outstanding student-athletes prove that we are living up to our mission,” says Wren Baker, vice president and director of athletics. “We’re building champions and preparing leaders.”

Coaches Caravan makes stops across the North Texas region The 2018 North Texas Coaches Caravan took place in May, with stops in Rockwall, Fort Worth, Plano and Dallas. The Coaches Caravan, sponsored by the UNT Alumni Association and the Mean Green Scholarship Fund, offers fans the chance to get the inside scoop on the future of Mean Green athletics directly from Wren Baker. Fans of all ages — including Mean Green swimming and diving coach Brittany Roth’s newborn daughter Isadora (pictured with Roth at right) — met and mingled with administrators, studentathletes and coaches. Women’s basketball head coach Jalie Mitchell (’02), men’s basketball head coach Grant McCasland and football head coach Seth Littrell (pictured at far right) discussed their past and upcoming seasons. Some of the season highlights touted during the tour included UNT football’s Conference USA West Division title, the women’s soccer C-USA tournament championship and the men’s College Basketball Invitational championship. Fans also got a chance to see some of the programs’ trophies and hear about upgrades to the turf at Apogee Stadium.

For information on the Mean Green Scholarship Fund, which served as a Coaches Caravan sponsor, visit meangreenscholarshipfund.com or contact the office at 940-369-7284 or mgsf@unt.edu.

Tennis rakes in recognition

UNT players pursue NFL dreams

Mean Green tennis junior Maria Kononova is the first Mean Green tennis player in history to be selected for the NCAA Singles Championships. She also was voted All-Conference USA Singles First-Team for a third straight year. Along with Kononova, UNT teammate Tamuna Kutubidze was voted AllConference USA Singles Second-Team, and Kononova and her doubles partner Minying Liang were voted All-Conference USA Doubles Second Team. Also, for a third straight year, women’s tennis was recognized for its academic performance. The team has an Academic Progress Rate score in the top 10 percent in the nation of all NCAA Division I women’s tennis programs.

Three Mean Green football players who completed their eligibility in 2017 are pursuing roster spots with NFL teams. Running back Jeffery Wilson signed a free agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers, kicker Trevor Moore signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and safety Kishawn McClain has had tryouts with the Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys.

2018 Mean Green football schedule Sept. 1 vs. SMU Sept. 8 vs. Incarnate Word Sept. 15 at Arkansas Sept. 22 at Liberty Sept. 29 vs. Louisiana Tech Oct. 6 at UTEP

Golfer ends season on high note Oct. 13 vs. Southern Miss

Junior Ian Snyman was named a Division I PING All-Region selection by the Golf Coaches Association of America. He also was named the Conference USA Golfer of the Year, nabbed first-team all-conference honors for the second year and ranked No. 60 in the GolfStat national rankings.

Summer 2018

Oct. 20 at UAB Oct. 27 vs. Rice, HOMECOMING Nov. 10 at Old Dominion Nov. 15 vs. Florida Atlantic Nov. 24 at UTSA





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This spring, as the campus prepared for the excitement of commencement, the UNT Alumni Association unveiled enhancements to the official UNT Ring Presentation Ceremony. “We were proud to reveal an enriched program — one that acknowledges the role of parents, friends and family in student success and celebrates Mean Green Pride,” says Rob McInturf, executive director of alumni relations. “This ceremony, as well as the ring, commemorates the outstanding achievement of these students.” More than 850 students and guests filled the Library Mall as part of the ring presentation ceremony May 1, the 10th anniversary of the event. Each student selected a loved one to present the ring in recognition of the role family and friends have played in the UNT journey. After learning about the symbols featured on the rings, students participated in a

John Solis (’18), left, attended the Eagle Ring Dive with his father, Javier (’85).

Ranjani Groth

Symbols of the UNT class ring

The top of the official UNT ring is adorned with the Lone Star of Texas and

celebration called the Eagle Ring Dive. They submerged their rings in the fountains on the Library Mall. McConnell Tower was then illuminated to celebrate the graduates’ academic victory as they dipped their rings. John Solis (’18) attended the dive with his father, Javier (’85), a fellow UNT alumnus. Solis graduated in May with a degree in integrative studies. “This moment is really special, and I am thrilled to be able to share it with my family,” he says. David Wolf, vice president for advancement, says UNT is proud to honor

students with the ring ceremony as a way for them to remember their years at the university. “Just like my ring reminds me, their rings will forever connect them to their Mean Green family,” Wolf says. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the official UNT ring program with Jostens, UNT’s official ring provider. Students and alumni must have completed 60 credit hours or more to be eligible to purchase the official UNT class ring. All students, alumni and friends of the university may purchase spirit rings.

an optional green stone. One side of the ring features the UNT seal, which includes the lamp of learning and its eternal flame, representing academic achievement and excellence; a laurel wreath representing honor; the Lone Star, symbolizing Texas; and, at the bottom, “1890,” the year of UNT’s founding. Below the seal, the Eagle is shown with wings spread, its talons representing pride and unity. On the opposite side of the ring, surrounded by the graduation year, is

McConnell Tower, which sits above the Hurley Administration Building. The hands on its two clock faces are set at one o’clock, honoring the One O’Clock Lab Band, and seven o’clock, recalling the curfew for early students of the college. It’s traditional for students to wear the ring with the words “University of North Texas” facing toward them until they graduate. At the commencement ceremony, when they move their tassels, they also turn their rings for the world to see they’re graduates of UNT.

Order official UNT class rings and spirit rings online at jostens.com/untspirit. 38


No r t h Texa n




Summer 2018



Get connected at upcoming alumni gatherings page 40

SWINGING INTO ACTION As director of aviation for the city of Dallas, alumnus prepares for the ordinary and extraordinary.

Courtesy of Mark Duebner

EMERGENCY READINESS IS ALL IN a day’s work for Mark Duebner (’96 M.P.A.). As the city of Dallas’ director of aviation, Duebner has navigated the region through its ordinary day-to-day needs, as well as through extraordinary events. He oversaw the evacuation of two Ebola patients from Dallas and worked 12 hours daily for 32 straight days to relocate more than 1,900 Hurricane Harvey survivors to the North Texas region. “It’s really about preparation and then swinging into action,” says Duebner, who was named to D CEO’s 2018 edition of the Dallas 500 as one of the most powerful business leaders in the area. “Training is important because you’re not going to have time to talk about what needs to be done. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

Read more about how UNT’s topranked Master of Public Administration program gave Duebner the foundation to take on challenges in his career at northtexan.unt.edu/swinging-action.





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 at northtexan.unt.edu.

Upcoming Alumni Gatherings Many exciting events are planned for alumni to reunite and celebrate UNT: UNT Day at the Fair: UNT Day at the North Texas Fair & Rodeo is set for Aug. 24, and will feature a performance by alumni Eli Young Band. This year’s fair will take place Aug. 17-25. For more information, visit ntfair.com. Alumni Pavilion GameDay Grille: Join the UNT Alumni Association for Alumni GameDay every home football game. There will be live music, Mean Green face painting, a catered buffet and lawn games at the UNT Alumni Pavilion, located at the northeast entrance of Apogee football stadium. Alumni GameDay Grille events open two hours prior to home game kick-off. Football Season Opener: Be there to see the Mean Green open the 2018 football season at Apogee Stadium against SMU on Sept. 1. The Alumni Pavilion GameDay Grille will host an open house for all alumni and friends. Buy game tickets at meangreensports.com. Alumni Fall Regional Receptions: The UNT Alumni Association regional chapters invite alumni to attend celebratory receptions honoring UNT alumni and friends this fall. The Collin County chapter will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Omni Hotel in Frisco; the Tarrant County chapter will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Colonial Country Club in Plano; and the Dallas County chapter will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Perot Museum of Science and Nature. UNT President Neal Smatresk will give a brief update on the university as guests dine on appetizers and enjoy complimentary wine. Register to attend at untalumni.com/fallregionalreceptions. Homecoming 2018: Festivities will take place Oct.22-27, culminating with the Mean Green vs. Rice game at Apogee Stadium. Look for more details in the fall issue of The North Texan or visit homecoming.unt.edu. For more information or to join the UNT Alumni Association, call 940-565-2834 or go to untalumni.com.



No r t h Texa n




Summer 2018


1969 James Nations (’72 M.S.), Rockville, Md. :: co-wrote the

book Lacandón Maya: The Language and Environment, a dictionary of the indigenous Maya group from the rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico. While researching his dissertation for a Ph.D. in anthropology from Southern Methodist University, he lived with the Lacandónes and learned their language over the course of three years. He maintained fluency through extended visits during the next four decades, in which time he helped to set up indigenous reserves and national parks in Latin America and the U.S.

and went on to teach at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M) and Texas Tech University. For the past 14 years, he has served as chair of the contemporary music program at the College of Santa Fe and as professor of theory and composition at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, where he also directed choral and new music ensembles. He now plays piano for National Dance Institute classes; has launched a publishing company, Creative Spirit, with a catalog of nearly 100 new works and transcriptions for musicians at all levels; and visits his children and grandchildren in Austin with wife

Joy Ferrell Paxton (’73).

1974 Andy Raub (’73 M.B.A.), Dallas ::

published The Encore Curve: Retire with a Life Plan that Excites You (Brown Books Publishing Group). In his book, Andy explains how to plan for a retirement filled with purpose and significance. He has worked as a financial advisor for 35 years.

1973 Steven Paxton (’77 M.M.), Santa Fe, N.M. :: retired after a

44-year career as a high school choral director, college music professor and administrator. He began his teaching career in Borger

Don Brownlee (M.A.), Northridge, Calif. :: retired after

42 years of college teaching, the last 35 at California StateNorthridge, where he twice chaired the communications studies department. He was on the speech and drama faculty at North Texas from 1975 to 1980 as the debate coach. He founded the journal Contemporary Argumentation & Debate and the SinoAmerican Debate Exchange. The award for the National College Debate Coach of the Year is named in his honor.


1982 Richard Montalto (D.M.A.), Columbus,


Angela Payne Ward, Longview

:: won $12,800 on the game show Jeopardy! in September. She took the Jeopardy! online test in February 2016, then was invited to a live regional tryout that July in Oklahoma City before being invited to appear on air. Her favorite UNT memory is meeting her husband, Bob, with whom she recently celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary. She works as a family assessment writer for CK Family Services, a foster/adoption agency.

George W. Aldridge, Belton :: has retired from the U.S. Foreign Service after more than 27 years as a diplomat. In addition to two assignments at the State Department, he served overseas in Jamaica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Belize, Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia, Sudan and Lebanon. During his career, he earned three Superior Honor Awards and eight Meritorious Honor Awards. Prior to entering the U.S. Foreign Service in June 1990, he was the director of the southwest office of the National Association of Arab Americans for 4 1/2 years. He was a political science doctoral teaching fellow at UNT in the early 1980s.

Ahna Hubnik

Miss. ::

retired as a Professor Emeritus of music at Mississippi University for Women. He has won numerous awards, including 30 ASCAP Awards, and served as president of several music organizations. His works have been performed in Carnegie Hall and other places, and he has performed around the world and was formerly principal bass in the Starkville/Mississippi State University Orchestra. Prior to joining the MUW faculty, he served as director of the University of New Orleans Jazz Band.

Renovating and preserving history Patience, persistence and the ability to envision what’s possible were key for Zach Palmer (’13) and Lauren Scally (’12) when purchasing a Denton investment property rife with history, charm and potential. Partners in love and business, they scour listings in search of well-loved homes in need of major renovations that can be flipped or rented. A 2015 listing for three houses built from the 1920s to the 1970s, a pool and pool house on two acres off Country Club Road was one they kept coming back to. “The property was overgrown, and the homes had been vacant for a long time. But we knew it was somewhere we could plant our roots,” says Scally,


a recreation and leisure studies alum. She is the duo’s design guru and a licensed real estate agent who manages their eight rental properties.

Ann Schiola, Tarpon Springs, Fla. :: was hired as regional busi-

ness development director for the Florida Geomatics division by McKim & Creed, an engineering and survey firm with offices throughout the U.S. Ann has an M.B.A. from the University of Dallas, a master of competitive intelligence certification from the Fuld-Gilad-Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence and is a certified professional services marketer. While at UNT, she was in the Fencing Club.

Renovation and construction tasks fall to Palmer, who owns Palmer Roofing. The couple soon began to learn stories about the main house and its late owners — college sweethearts Mildred Brock Parker (’40, ’70 M.A.) and

Walt Parker (’40, ’47 M.Ed.). Walt was a UNT Hall of Fame running back, a five-term state representative and, for 25 years, vice president and vice chancellor of governmental affairs for UNT and the UNT System. “Walt Parker is a Denton legend, and we’ve learned so many unique things about the home,” Scally says. “The pecky cypress wood used throughout the house was gifted by millionaire wildcatter Rex Cauble (’74) and the intricate front door was made in Europe in the 1960s.” Palmer, who studied real estate, business and alternative dispute resolution while earning a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences, credits business professor John Baen for giving him the confidence to follow his entrepreneurial path to a career in construction and renovation. “His passion for real estate was contagious. It made me want to go out and do things, rather than just think about them,” Palmer says. Scally hopes their hard work will continue to bring success. “My dream is to become a developer,” she says. “I hope we get to the point where we can imagine something new, inspired by something old.” — Meredith Moriak Wright



1990 Brad Bunt, Longview :: was named a member of the advisory board for the U.S. Ukraine Foundation in Washington, D.C. He is director of the North Central Texas Small Business Development Center. While at UNT, he was a strategic management student who was a teaching assistant for finance, marketing and management. He says his favorite UNT memory was “working with some of the greatest business minds in the U.S.: the professors of UNT.”

1991 The Rev. Kyev Tatum, Fort Worth :: is part of a group that

has organized the “No Shots Fired” campaign in Fort Worth to prevent crime and bolster the community through activities such as cleanup events and the Fort Worth Midnight Basketball League. He is commissioner for the league and leads Kyev Tatum Ministries and the Tarrant County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Other organizers include Willie Davis (’68), president of the Dallas chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association and a former player in the American Basketball Association; Harold Stewart (’10), owner of Stew*Body Fitness, assistant coach of strength and conditioning for the North Crowley High School boys basketball team, and a player with the Texas Rize basketball

team; and Joshua Okpara (’18), founder of the UNT Dedicated Men, a group that has served as reading tutors to children. Willie and Harold played on the Mean Green basketball team, and Kyev was a member of the football team.

Hills. He has more than eight years of experience as a business owner and technician in the restoration industry.

2003 Aaron Borden, Arling-


ton :: opened

Candace Vincent (M.S.), Herndon, Va. :: retired from the

MITRE Corporation in Virginia, after 12 years as a senior information analyst. She worked as a literature researcher in the homeland security field.

a new Paul Davis Restoration franchise in West Arlington. Prior to opening the office, he worked as an aerospace engineer for Triumph Aerostructures.

2005 2001 Paul Wingo, Dallas :: has partMichael Smith, Keller :: opened a new Paul Davis Restoration franchise in North Richland

nered with Hamilton Wingo LLP to represent individuals and companies in high-stakes cases. He

Goat enterprise When Jonna Hopewell Payne Davis (’02) first added dairy goats to her farm, it was meant as a way to meet the needs of her son, who was allergic to cow’s milk. Now, not only is her son thriving, but so is the goat-based business that resulted from the excess milk, an enterprise that includes soaps, lotions — and goat yoga. Davis is the owner of Nuluv Goat Milk Products, a fast-growing brand of uniquely scented goatCourtesy of Jonna Hopewell Payne Davis

milk-based skin-care products. Headquartered in Center Point, Davis and her husband run the largest hands-on goat milk dairy in Texas, which means no machines are used on the goats or to make the goat-milk products. “When I had my son, he had a really severe dairy allergy,” Davis says. “We already had a goat farm, and it didn’t take much to expand to dairy goats. It really started as something to fill the needs of my children.” Davis and her husband started their herd with Nubian goats because of the goats’ inquisitive, funloving personalities and sweet milk. Within a few years, the herd expanded, making more milk than her family could use. So Davis began making and selling skin-care products that catered to people with allergies or sensitivities to traditional milk. She dubbed the line “Nuluv,” a name that came from her husband, who gave her the Nubian goats for Valentine’s Day. Davis nicknamed them her “Nuluv Nubians.” While Nuluv started as a hobby, it is now a robust business with a studio in Center Point and several employees. In recent months, Davis has expanded Nuluv to include goat yoga, a new exercise trend. During goat yoga — a 50-minute class with a certified yoga instructor — the playful animals jump on participants during poses. Davis even offers goat picnics, where families can enjoy an outdoor meal and the company of baby goats. “Nuluv was never something that we planned,” Davis says. “It’s just a one-day-at-a-time kind of business.”

— Jennifer Pache




Ernesto G. Usabiaga (’59) didn’t realize it at the time. But when he earned his marketing degree from UNT six decades ago, it was the beginning of an enduring family legacy. So far, his brother, two sons, a nephew and a grandson also have left their native Mexico to attend the university. Their UNT business degrees have helped them run their thriving business SuSazón, a food distribution company near their hometown of Celaya in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The UNT family tradition was born from a simple invitation and some good advice. In 1956, a friend of Ernesto G.’s asked him to visit campus and he ended up enrolling, although at one point he considered other options. “It was my language teacher, J.L. Gerding, who advised me to stay here,” he says. “He made me realize that opportunities in business administration would provide a career better adapted to my future in Mexico. I’m still grateful to him, as well as the families and friends who helped me in this new experience.” Ever since, each Usabiaga alumnus has worked diligently to persuade the next college-age relative to follow in his footsteps. Ernesto G.’s 20-year-old grandson, Ernesto B., knew where his relatives wanted him to go to college. “My dad was always dropping hints about Denton and UNT and his experience here,” Ernesto B. says, “but I always wanted to go to a university in a bigger city since I was born in such a small town.”

From left, Ernesto G. (’59), Jorge Ernesto (’86) and Ernesto B. Usabiaga, a junior at UNT That changed following a campus visit. “Dallas is 40 minutes away, and UNT’s international program is really good,” says Ernesto B., now a junior majoring in logistics and supply chain management with a minor in marketing. “When you come here, alone, for the first time, it can be challenging. But UNT does a lot, like with orientation and teachers who assign teamwork, to help you meet people.” The reputation of UNT’s logistics program was another draw. “It’s one of the best in the nation,” he says, “and most of the faculty members are still active in the industry, so they have a fresh perspective on what is happening in the logistics and supply chain world.” Business degrees have been important to the Usabiagas, who collectively run SuSazón. Ernesto G.’s sons Jorge Ernesto (’86), who studied administrative management, and Mauricio (’87), who studied production and operations management, started the business in 1992. His brother Guillermo “Memo” Usabiaga Reynoso (’61) and nephew Juan

P. Usabiaga (’93) studied marketing. “My experience at UNT gave me the basis to run a business,” says Jorge Ernesto, Ernesto B.’s father. “We constantly conduct business transactions with American and Canadian companies, and UNT helped us understand the American way of doing business and provided us with opportunities to learn English.” Ernesto B.’s logistics degree will come in handy. “I want to stay in the U.S. for a while and open a distribution network,” he says. “Right now, we don’t export much out of Mexico, so that would be the next step.” But first comes his senior year — and another family member to welcome. His brother Alejandro is slated to begin his business studies this fall. Their brother Emilio, in middle school, sees UNT in his future as well. “Education has always been a tradition for our family,” Ernesto G. says. “And I’m happy to say, 62 years after I arrived in Denton, we’ve continued that unique legacy with this university.” — Monique Bird

Read about other UNT legacy families at northtexan.unt.edu/ legacy-families and share the story of your own UNT legacy.



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


News A long-held dream of opening a brewery in Denton came true

helped create Lawyers for America, a nonprofit that offers legal assistance to people whose rights have been violated. He was selected as one of D Magazine’s Best Lawyers in Dallas for 2017 and is a repeat honoree on the Texas Super Lawyers list.


for two alumni when Armadillo


Ale Works celebrated its official opening in June. Bobby Mullins (’07) and Yianni Arestis (’08, ’11 M.B.A.) won $10,000 for their business plan in the 2010 New Venture Creation Contest hosted by UNT’s Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. They have since brewed beer with the help of other brewers but now have a place of their own. Guidelive.com calls it “North Texas’ little brewery that could.”


Triple Crown winner Justify has UNT connections through Kenny and Lisa Troutt (’85). Their

Kentucky-based WinStar Farm is part of the ownership group for the horse, just the 13th in history to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. “Kenny and I knew immediately when he crossed the wire how special

Mark Shadden, Irving :: co-wrote an article in the journal PLOS ONE about what factors NASA looks for when selecting astronauts. He filed Freedom of Information Act requests to access and analyze the information from NASA. He previously worked as a statistician at Elite Research LLC in Irving and at the Center for Research Design and Analysis at Texas Woman’s University. He received a National Science Foundation grant in 2011 from Penn State. While at UNT, he was a McNair Scholar from 2007 to 2009.

Lauren Gay Hawkins, Carrollton :: is one of five state final-

ists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She has worked as an instructional technology specialist for six years at Richardson ISD. The award is the highest honor the U.S. government grants to K-12 mathematics and science teachers. She was in the Teach North Texas program and credits John Quintanilla, professor of mathematics and associate dean for undergraduate studies, for influencing her teaching style.

this was,” Lisa told The Dallas Morning News after the Belmont win. “And it was very emotional. It was very moving. I thought, ‘This is what you live for. This is what you dream about if you’re in this business.’” After the death of Margaret Rosa King (’10 M.S., ’13 M.S.) — UNT staff member, graduate student and alumna — the university was unable to locate any relatives and asked the media for help. The story was covered by newspapers and television stations and spread on social media. About 200 people attended her funeral May 16 at

Ranjani Goth


Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, including veterans groups — and a niece who flew in from Atlanta after seeing the news on Facebook. Margaret had served in the U.S. Air Force and worked for the Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin. At UNT, she worked in custodial services and was pursuing her third degree.

Jesus Lujan (’13, ’16 M.Ed.) had two special guests drop by to read to his fifth-grade bilingual students at Denton’s Borman Elementary on Read Across America Day: UNT President Neal Smatresk and Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson (’91, ’99 M.Ed., ’12 Ed.D.). Jesus was named Borman Elementary’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year.


READERSHIP SURVEY northtexan.unt.edu/2018-survey

Your feedback about The North Texan is important to us. The better we get to know you and your reading preferences, the better we’ll do at providing you with an enjoyable read each issue. Please take a few minutes to go online and take the survey at northtexan.unt.edu/2018-survey. Win prizes! Complete the survey by Aug. 1, 2018, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for UNT branded T-shirts, water bottles and tickets to the Homecoming game Oct. 27 at Apogee Stadium.

Summer 2018





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 northtexan.unt.edu.

1940s Phoebe Ryan Higginbotham (’40), Denton :: She began her career in East Texas as a home supervisor for the Farm Security Administration. She then taught elementary students in Austin, Carthage and Dallas for 30 years before retiring in 1984. She descended from pioneer Denton

families and was a 1936 graduate of the Teachers College High School. Survivors include daughter Patricia Jean Clark (’68), son-in-law Richard Clark (’70) and daughter

Tom Tilley (’54), San Antonio :: He served in the

Bob Dorough (’49), Mount Bethel, Pa. :: He was the man

U.S. Air Force and flew more than 200 missions over Vietnam in a B-52. For his service, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross

behind such educational and entertaining songs as “Three is a

William David Love Appling, 83, died Oct. 16

was a math professor from 1963 to 1997. He earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, then served in the U.S. Army before teaching math at Duke University from 1960 to 1963. He was a member of the American Mathematical Society and was known for his intelligence and keen sense of humor.


No r t h Texa n


and other recognitions. After retiring from the Air Force in 1975, he worked in insurance. At North Texas, he was president of Sigma Phi Epsilon and a member of the Blue Key Honor Society and North Texas ROTC. He met his wife, Ann Harrison Tilley (’54), at North Texas, and they were members of the UNT Alumni Association.

1960s Edward Seale (’60), Bryan

:: He served in the U.S. Army National Guard and worked as a certified public accountant for Frito-Lay and Howmet/Alumax Aluminum Corp. He also ran a bed and breakfast, where he was known for telling stories to his guests. He ran track while at North Texas.

Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Mary Bator, 63, Pro-

Carolyn Dunnigan, 75, died Feb. 12

Floyd Jenkins (’50, ’51 M.B.A.),

fessor Emerita

in Dallas. She

89, died Feb.

of mathemat-

was a member

7 in Colorado

ics, died Jan. 9 in Wichita Falls. She

of the President’s Council and a

Springs. He was a business man-

was a member of the math faculty

longtime supporter of UNT with

agement professor at North Texas

from 1983 to 2009. Her research

her husband, David Dunnigan

from 1951 to 1953 and from 1956

areas included functional analysis

(’64). She began her career as a staff

to 1991. He earned his Ph.D. from

and geometry, and she was a mem-

writer for The Dallas Morning News

Ohio State University. Some of his

ber of the American Mathematical

in 1965 and received one of the early

early research focused on minority

Society. She earned bachelor’s and

Headliner awards from the Press

businesses. He also conducted

master’s degrees from Montclair

Club of Dallas. She later worked in

interviews for the Business Archives

State College and a Ph.D. from Penn

public relations and was the first

Project of UNT’s Oral History Collec-

State. In Denton, she enjoyed ten-

female member and president of the

tion. As a student he was named

nis, bowling and volunteering with

Oak Cliff Lions Club.

Who’s Who in management and was

Big Brothers Big Sisters.



Mary Katherine Beal (’71).

University Community

in Denton. He

Magic Number” and “Conjunction Junction” for the animated children’s show Schoolhouse Rock, serving as its music director from 1973 to 1985. He also was a jazz composer and collaborated with big names in the field, including Miles Davis. Bob’s love for jazz began when he served in the military, playing and arranging music for the Special Services Army Band unit during World War II. He also composed music for the North Texas lab bands as a student.



Summer 2018

president of Pi Omega Pi and the

Edward V. Smith III (’60), Dallas :: He was a probate lawyer for 50 years. He served on UNT’s Board of Regents from 1978 to 1979 and received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992. He also served as president of the UNT Alumni Association, founder and former chair of the UNT Foundation and chair of the Professional Development Institute, and he was a member of the McConnell Society and 1890 Society. With his wife, Nikki DeShazo, he created three scholarships at UNT. As a student, he was president of his class, attorney general of the student body, vice president of the student body, president of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and president of the Blue Key Honor Society.

School in Longview for 40 years. She earned the Teacher of the Year award several times and won the Texas A&M University National Science Foundation, Honors Institute Excellence in Science Teaching award in 1984.

Kay Johns (’66), Austin


She was a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority, a Campus Beauty and Sigma Phi Epsilon Sweetheart. She was known for her friendly smile and personality. She taught art at various colleges in Texas. In later years, she moved to Santa Fe, N.M., to follow her dreams.


fisherman and loved the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers. He was a lifetime member of the UNT Alumni Association.

1990s Marco Antonio Acosta (’96), San Antonio :: He was a certified public accountant and worked as lead auditor for ADKF. He loved movies, music, sports and food.

2010s Mitchell Ryan Hoenig (’15 TAMS), Plano :: He was a National Merit Scholar pursuing a double degree in biochemistry and psychology at the University of Minnesota. His goal was to become a doctor. His organs were donated to those in need. Survivors include his sister Megan (’13 TAMS). A scholarship is being set up in his name.

taught science and social studies at Hudson PEP Elementary

Mark Jabin, Carrollton :: He played on the football team while attending North Texas from 1978 to 1981. Mark worked for multiple companies and started his own direct marketing business, MarMak Designs. He was an avid

Management Club. In retirement,

he had earned degrees in applied

in his honor. He was an avid Mean

he loved the outdoors, performing

arts and sciences and public

Green football fan and a life member

in local theaters, meeting new

administration. He was assistant

of the UNT Alumni Association. His

people, and spending time with

director for academic development

wife, Melanie (’98, ’05 M.Ed.),

family and friends.

for Upward Bound and director of

works in the UNT Learning Center.

Jessica Hudson Noble (’61, ’64 M.Ed.), Tyler :: She

Savion Manuel, Copperas Cove :: He was a sophomore studying electrical engineering technology with a minor in psychology. He was a practice player for the women’s basketball team, helping the players during scrimmages. He enjoyed soccer and basketball and was known for his sense of style and humor.

Lucas Tucker, Denton :: He was a sophomore studying biology. He was a musician who especially loved playing the guitar, and sang and played in multiple bands. He wanted to be a teacher. Draylen Mason, Austin


He had been accepted to the UNT College of Music as a double bass player for the fall. In his application, he said he wanted to be a musician, a neurosurgeon and a composer. He was killed in the Austin package bombings in March.

Memorials Send memorials to honor UNT alumni and friends, made payable

TRIO Upward Bound and student

Rodney Mitchell (’96, ’99 M.P.A.), 45,

support services before being

Alvin Pair,

to the UNT Foundation, to Uni-

named associate dean of students

87, of Denton,

versity of North Texas, Division of

in 2013. He established the UNT

died Dec.

Advancement, 1155 Union Circle

Food Pantry, helped students navi-

13 in Plano.

#311250, Denton, Texas 76203-

who served as

gate problems through intervention

Known as

5017. Indicate on your check

associate dean of students and had

programs, and oversaw programs

“Buddy,” he retired from UNT in

the fund or area you wish to sup-

worked at UNT since 2001, died Feb.

designed to keep students in

1992 as supervisor of the grounds

port. Or make secure gifts online

26 in Denton. He began his career

college. His work as president of

department, where he was widely

at one.unt.edu/giving. For more

as a management assistant in the

the Residence Hall Association and

respected. He excelled at dom-

information, email giving@

Denton city manager’s office and

College Inn hall director led to the

inos and horse riding, and had

unt.edu or call 940-565-2900.

then began working at UNT, where

association naming the Rodney T.

just celebrated his 65th wedding

Mitchell Advocate of the Year award


Summer 2018





No r t h Texa n







No r t h Texa n



Ahna Hubnik

There are three things I’m going to miss most about UNT after I graduate: home games, the sense of community and the research. As a student, I’ve attended nearly every Mean Green football and basketball home game. That was partly because I worked at the athletics ticket office where I could literally see the scoreboard from my booth at the Super Pit. But even without that job, I would have gone to the games. As a member of the Comanche and Navajo Nation on my dad’s side, and Northern Cheyenne and Lakota on my mom’s, I was glad to see multicultural organizations on campus. I helped restart the UNT Native American Student Association (NASA), and as this year’s vice president, worked to increase our visibility on campus and raise awareness to foster open and honest conversation between the Native and non-Native communities. I’m proud of the commitment the university shows in helping students in need. For my Class of 2018 community service project, we focused on helping children through End Hunger Now. And when I saw President Smatresk and other students showing support for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey last year, I was reminded how much UNT really cares. Science, especially research, is my true passion. I came to UNT on an academic scholarship and have been a biology Honors student ever since. As a freshman, I participated in the Phage Hunters

Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (PHAGES) research program. We would collect, isolate and characterize our own bacteriophage — viruses that can infect bacteria and could be used in phage therapy. Dr. Lee Hughes, director of the program, was an invaluable mentor to me, offering encouragement and support. I have two general research focuses: the host-pathogen relationship and the impact of the environment on human health. But I also have interests outside of laboratory work, including epidemiology and public policy. UNT has shown me the importance of taking a multidisciplinary approach to the multifaceted questions in biology and health. In Dr. Armin Mikler’s computational epidemiology class, I learned to look at infectious diseases and health problems in new ways. In my sophomore and junior years, I conducted biological research through the National Institutes of Health STEP-UP program and presented papers at the national symposium in Bethesda, Maryland, twice. I was the only student from UNT chosen and one of only about three from Texas. My first summer, I worked with the ovarian cancer cell line SKOV3. My project focused on the


Summer 2018

impact obesity may have on the microenvironment of cancer cells. During the second summer, I looked at the impact of nutrient supplementation on cholera. But it wasn’t until the last weeks that I found success. This showed me that any amount of success in research is a victory. Even though I graduated in May with honors, school has not always come easy to me. As a child, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. But I have always been competitive, so I approached it as a challenge, not a setback. I’ve had a fulfilling four years at UNT and want to continue growing as a researcher. As I move on to graduate school, I’m looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the impact of the environment on diseases and human populations. And, I’ll always follow Mean Green athletics. Editor’s note: Niyah, an Honors College student from Pflugerville, graduated magna cum laude in May with a major in biology and minor in chemistry. She was a national Udall scholarship finalist and has received a fellowship to study in a Penn State doctoral program, where she plans to begin integrated studies in environmental health and cancer or cell biology this fall.









No r t h Texa n


The North Texan

Ranjani Groth

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 After four years, the Diaz quintuplets — from left and in the order they were born, Enna, George, John, Emilio and Maria — are graduating from UNT. They pursued different majors, but outside of class you could find them all together at football and basketball games or volunteering with Best Buddies of UNT. Even if they end up in separate cities after graduation, George says they always will be close. “We can’t get rid of each other e N o r t h T e x a n | northtexan.unt.edu | S u m m e r 2 0 1 8 easily,”1 heT hsays. Read the full story at northtexan.unt.edu/online.

Profile for University of North Texas

The North Texan - UNT Alumni Magazine - Summer 2018  

The North Texan - UNT Alumni Magazine - Summer 2018

The North Texan - UNT Alumni Magazine - Summer 2018  

The North Texan - UNT Alumni Magazine - Summer 2018