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Professor dies

L. Fred ThomasL. Fred Thomas, professor of technology and cognition, died Feb. 11 at Denton Community Hospital. He had worked at UNT since 1963. He was 73.

Thomas was born Jan. 17, 1928, in Tucson, Ariz. He received a bachelor's degree from Peru State College and master's and doctoral degrees in educational administration from the University of Arizona. He served in the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps from 1952 to 1954.

At UNT he had served as president of the Faculty Senate and at one time was chair of the department of education. He was currently serving as program coordinator for the educational research program. The L. Fred Thomas Memorial Scholarship will be given to graduate students who are public school teachers, providing assistance to those who want to further their education and remain in the teaching profession.

Thomas was a member of several professional associations, including the Texas Association of Teacher Educators, the Texas Association of College Teachers and Phi Delta Kappa, which he had served as chapter president, chapter delegate and area coordinator.

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New athletic director named

Former University of Southern Mississippi Associate Athletic Director Rick Villarreal was named UNT's new athletic director during a news conference on campus Wednesday, April 5.

He comes to UNT after serving three years as associate athletic director at the University of Southern Mississippi. Before moving into administration there, Villarreal was a football coach and football administrator from 1988 to 1997.

Villarreal brings more than coaching experience with him to UNT. While at Southern Miss, he served as a leading force in major gift fundraising. He initiated the Circle of Champions, a group of donors that pledges at least $100,000 each which now stands at 48 members. He also spearheaded a fundraising effort that has resulted in the commitment of more than $8 million, leading to the construction of a new athletic center, a new baseball clubhouse and a women's softball stadium.

During the past three years, the University of Southern Mississippi's Golden Eagle football team advanced to four consecutive bowl games, the men's basketball team tied for the Conference USA regular season title and advanced to the NIT this season, and the women's softball program advanced to the NCAA College World Series each of the past two seasons.

At the press conference, University of North Texas President Norval Pohl spoke about Villarreal's qualifications and why he attracted UNT's attention.

"Rick Villarreal brings exceptionally relevant experience to the AD position at UNT," Pohl said. "His initial career in business combined financial expertise with customer service and a bottom-line orientation; his work as an assistant coach, as director of football operations, and more recently his very successful efforts in building student, alumni and community support for intercollegiate athletics is exactly what made him so attractive to UNT."

Villarreal spoke about his vision for the future of UNT athletics.

"My goal is to be at the top of the Sun Belt Conference in everything we do," he said. "The location of the school, the quality of student-athletes in the Metroplex and throughout the state of Texas, and the large number of alumni in the area are among the reasons for our potential for success."

Before joining the coaching staff at Southern Miss, Villarreal served as director of football operations and assistant athletic director at Texas Christian University from 1995 to 1997 for Coach Pat Sullivan.

From 1991 to 1995, he served on the coaching staff of Curly Hallman at Louisiana State University, where he started as tight ends coach and moved up to director of football operations and recruiting coordinator.

The 43-year-old is a native of Gulfport, Miss., and a 1975 graduate of St. John High School. He received his bachelor's degree in coach and sports/administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1989. Rick and his wife D'Lynn are the parents of three children Kimberly (20), Justin (17) and Tony (13).

The announcement ends a four-month nationwide search for an athletic director, following the Nov. 22 resignation of Craig Helwig.

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UNT basketball player dies

Marcellus Wright, a 6-8 forward, died on Friday, March 9, at a hospital in Minneapolis, Minn. He was diagnosed with a rare form of colon cancer on Feb. 1.

Wright was a native of Brooklyn Park, Minn. He transferred to UNT from Garden City Community College in Kansas last year. He played in nine games at UNT.

He was the son of Marcellus and Earnestine Wright and is survived by two sisters, Regina Kittrell and Denise Richards, and a brother, Earnest.

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Students approve recreation center

Early in October 2000, UNT students voted to approve the construction of a new recreation center at the Denton campus.

Pending approval by the Texas Legislature, the center will open for faculty, staff, students and alumni during the fall semester of 2003.

Although the exact size and location of the building have not been determined, the center will have a health club atmosphere. It will have a climbing wall, basketball and volleyball courts and an indoor track.

The center will house rooms for aerobics, martial arts and yoga. It will also have outdoor party decks with sand volleyball courts, as well as two indoor pools one for leisure and one for exercise.

In November, the Board of Regents selected F&S Partners of Dallas as architect for the center. The new center's construction is scheduled to begin the spring semester of 2002.

Faculty, staff and alumni will be able to use the facilities for an annual or per-semester fee, which will be competitive with local fitness centers, says Sue Delmark, assistant dean and director of recreational sports.

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If it passes, new legislation proposed by state Sen. Royce West and state Rep. Jesse Jones will change the state's definition of the UNT System by legally establishing a University of North Texas at Dallas.

The legislation will provide UNT with the authority and time to plan the establishment of the first four-year public institution in the city of Dallas during the next decade.

Plans call for UNT-Dallas to be in the southern sector of the city, where it will serve residents of southern Dallas and northern Ellis counties.

Current operations of the UNT System Center at Dallas, an extension of UNT-Denton, will not be affected. This spring, the center began its third long semester with 574 students enrolled in 20 different academic programs. Projections show that 750 students will be taking classes in Fall 2001. Increases are expected to continue until enrollment reaches 5,000 in 2007.

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Unity speech

UNT President Norval F. Pohl gave the following speech at the student-sponsored "Moving Forward Together" Unity Rally on campus Feb. 7:

First, I want to thank the students who organized this rally. Your deep concern, your civility of action and your passion to create an atmosphere of healing and unity make me extremely proud to be the president of this university.

In support of today's theme of "Moving Forward Together," I want to emphasize two elements that are critically important to the future of our university unity and diversity.

To realize our aspirations for the University of North Texas to become an even greater university, we need both.

UNT already is a great university. Our university family students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni reflects diverse backgrounds, cultures, faiths and ideas. To achieve unity, we must create a culture here that values the many backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences of the individuals who make up our community.

Regardless of our individual differences, UNT is a factor that unites us because our relationship to the university is something we all have in common.

Our collective diversity must be counted among our university's greatest assets and become a point of pride.

We must each accept responsibility for our role in achieving unity and we must each begin by listening with respect and open hearts when other members share their ideas, passions and beliefs.

We must also speak respectfully, show sensitivity and promote civility in our interactions.

When our viewpoints differ, we must engage each other in constructive dialogue that focuses on the issues. However, in addressing issues, we must never lose sight of the value of the persons who are expressing other beliefs about the issues.

Do your part to create an environment that promotes dialogue. It is through dialogue that we clear up misinformation and misconceptions to break through to the truth. It is through sharing that we grow.

Since I came to UNT in January of 1999, and especially since I became president last October, many people have helped me to shape my vision by sharing their hopes, thoughts and ideas. I am extremely grateful for that level of communication. Please keep it up, because I assure you, I intend to keep listening.

I believe communication and relationship building are two essential elements we must have to strengthen the sense of community at our university.

I urge all of you who are here because you care about our university to work toward determining achievable and measurable goals that will assure a future where the University of North Texas will thrive due to both its unity and its diversity.

A portion of our work has already begun. I began meeting with faculty, staff and the leaders of concerned student organizations last fall. I will continue those meetings and will expand the number of participants.

I learned a great deal about student concerns in my "Let's Talk" meetings in the fall semester. Now, I hope to see more student participation in those sessions this spring.

However, we must go even further. My charge to all members of the UNT community is that they seek active and accountable roles in a universitywide effort to build commitment to the unity of our campus and pride in our diversity.

By the end of this semester, I would like to see our commitment of today evolve into a written compact of achievable and measurable goals.

During the next few weeks, you will be hearing more from me about how we will work together to develop this compact.

For the welfare and future greatness of our university, we must sustain momentum begun with this symbolic unity rally. However, a rally in and of itself will not bring about change. We will not stop here.

Spread the enthusiasm of this rally to your friends, classmates and coworkers. Engage them in substantive dialogue to develop more concrete ideas about how we will increase diversity and achieve unity through improved communication and concentrated efforts in the area of relationship building. It is not a question of "if we will do it" but "how we will do it."

You can begin sending ideas to me immediately.

I want to close by telling you again that you make me extremely proud to be the president of the University of North Texas.

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Jazz festival

When the town of Addison decided to create an annual jazz festival, it knew one thing it wanted the UNT jazz studies program to guide its artistic decisions.

The North Texas Jazz Festival in Addison debuts April 3-8 with a lineup of major guest artists as well as UNT faculty and student performers. Headliners include Clark Terry, Shirley Horn, James Moody, Christian McBride, Marvin Stamm and the One O'Clock Lab Band. The Town of Addison Endowed Scholarship in Jazz at UNT was created as a result of the partnership.

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Just a click away

Breakthroughs, discoveries and research in UNT's programs are brought to light in Resource magazine. You can read about the many areas in which UNT scholars are influencing the future of science, technology and everyday life at

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