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Transforming History by President Norval Pohl
Summer 2004      

other features

History of integration

Opening doors

Transforming history

Making college home

Greek life

A team united

Pride and tradition

Remembering the early days

  President Pohl and Charles Beatty

President Norval Pohl, right, and UNT System Regent Charles Beatty present awards at February's gala celebration.

Many of the people who have changed the world didn't set out to do so. It's often one simple action on their part that serves as a catalyst for changing the world around them. That was the case in 1954, when doctoral candidate A. Tennyson Miller enrolled as the first African American student at this institution, and again the following year, when Joe Atkins filed a lawsuit for the university to admit undergraduate and master's students. It was never their intention nor the intentions of those who came after them to transform the history of UNT; like other students, they just wanted an education.

This year, in UNT's yearlong celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of desegregation on campus, we're recognizing the African Americans who broke racial barriers and paved the way for others to be successful. We also are taking the time to reflect on what diversity means and how continually striving for it will improve this university as we move forward.

Our university community has come a long way in the five decades since our first steps toward desegregation, but still we have a long way to go. There are gaps that remain to be filled.

Since the mid-1990s, UNT has been named one of the nation's 100 best colleges for African Americans in two different publications and named one of the top 100 colleges for Hispanic students. Yet, as the diversity of our students continues to rise steadily, the diversity of our faculty who serve as role models is too low. What are we doing about this? In the short-term, we are encouraging diversity in our applicant pools and are actively pursuing the most qualified candidates. In the long-term, as we educate a more diverse student body, we prepare students to be the most qualified applicants of the future.

You can help us, too. Our alumni come from every walk of life, which is one of our greatest assets. Consider sharing your life experiences and mentoring the students of your alma mater. You will help us continually grow a welcoming, nurturing and inclusive atmosphere.

I strongly encourage all of you to stay connected to UNT and keep the lines of communication open. Come back and give class lectures in the area of your expertise. Sit on UNT advisory boards. Submit your accomplishments to Class Notes. Join your alumni organization, the North Texas Exes. And be visible to our students. There are so many ways that you can contribute, and so many people that could benefit from your services.

This is a call to action. As we honor our pioneers, I challenge each of you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about UNT's past and become a part of UNT's future. Diversity is everyone's responsibility.

For mentoring, guest lecturing or sitting on boards and committees, call (940) 565-4921 in the Office of Development. You can contact the North Texas Exes at or (940) 565-2834.

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