President Neal Smatresk's proposal to name the new UNT residence hall under construction Joe Greene Hall -- after the university's most iconic figure -- recently earned the stamp of approval from the UNT System Board of Regents.
"This is about more than just Joe Greene's football career," Smatresk says. "His impact on UNT goes beyond the prowess that put him in multiple halls of fame, won Super Bowls and earned him 10 trips to the Pro Bowl. He was the first African American to serve on the UNT Board of Regents, and he has continued to be a Mean Green supporter and ambassador for the university throughout his life. Joe was an amazing football player, no doubt, but he also has been an incredible part of the UNT community for more than five decades."
The $58.9 million project also includes a visitors' center, which is scheduled to open in 2019 near the intersection of Avenue A and Eagle Drive. The pod-style student communities will have four to nine sleeping rooms with centralized social and restroom spaces with each pod. The concept is designed to both give students more privacy and give them shared social space outside of their rooms to study, play games and watch television. Other amenities in the new residence hall will include practice rooms for musicians, study lounges and a full kitchen.
"This is an incredible honor beyond anything I could have ever imagined," Greene says. "While playing football, I never thought about earning honors or being named to the Hall of Fame, and through all of my endeavors in life, I have never thought that something like this was even possible. It is humbling to think that somebody, somewhere thought that my contribution to the university was great enough that they should bestow such an honor.
Unquestionably the greatest football player in UNT history, Greene also is one of the greatest defensive tackles in NFL history. The first UNT player to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, Greene played 13 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming the cornerstone of the famous "Steel Curtain" defense and winning four Super Bowls. The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969, Greene went on to earn 10 Pro Bowl invitations and two Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987, and his No. 75 was retired by the Steelers in 2014, only the second number ever retired by the franchise.
At UNT, Greene was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1976, was a member of the first class of the Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981, and served as a UNT regent from 1983 to 1987.