UNT's pursuit of excellence, spanning academics to athletics, and its strength as a community partner have helped to define the university's legacy since its founding in 1890. As part of Founder's Week, UNT celebrated these qualities and 125 years of progress, growth and service in the community with festivities that included the annual President's State of the University address, Denton ISD sixth graders on campus and a picnic.
"I'm proud of our history and journey," President Neal Smatresk says. "Our focus is to continue to be a catalyst for creativity and fuel progress, innovation and entrepreneurship for Denton, the North Texas region and the state."
Founder's Week celebrations
From humble origins in a rented space above a hardware store in downtown Denton, UNT has grown into the nation's 25th largest public university. To kick off Founder's Week festivities Sept. 11-20, students and alumni came out in force to tailgate and cheer on the Mean Green at the Sept. 12 season opener in Dallas against Southern Methodist University.
Celebrate with UNT
The week's highlight event was the president's Sept. 16 State of the University address -- attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and DFW area dignitaries -- at which Smatresk outlined the university's progress over the past year and plans for the 2015-16 academic year.
UNT also celebrated its longtime ties to the Denton community by hosting sixth graders from the Denton Independent School District for two days. Students toured the campus, attended mock classes and ate lunch on campus as part of their visit.
"UNT is committed to providing students with the best educational experience in Texas, and we want to begin showing this to students early," says Elizabeth With, vice president for student affairs. "Our students are our legacy and by preparing them for college early, we're ensuring Denton and the North Texas region will continue to have an educated workforce and bright future."
And in celebrating that legacy, the Division of Student Affairs organized a Founder's Week picnic and helped generate buzz about the week by encouraging students to submit photos on social media wearing recreated beards in honor of Joshua C. Chilton, UNT's founder and first president. He served at what was then the Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute from 1890 to 1893.
Beginning Sept. 18, students commemorated the university's anniversary by sharing their UNT experiences with friends and family as part of Family Weekend. The celebration culminated with the Mean Green vs. Rice football game, the first home game of the season.
"Our 125th anniversary celebration this year was a great opportunity to bring these events together into one week to commemorate our founding and legacy in the North Texas region," Smatresk says.