A Family Fit for UNT

Written by: 
Erin Cogswell
Gregory and Ryleigh Dunn
Gregory ('18) and Ryleigh Dunn.

When Ryleigh Dunn walks around UNT, it's all too easy to imagine her mother, father and grandfather on campus with her.

Sitting for a performance of the One O'Clock Lab Band, for instance, Ryleigh feels the presence of her mom, Melissa Hopson ('83). Melissa worked as an assistant staff photographer for the public affairs and news information office at North Texas and once shot a concert of the band.

Football and basketball games bring back memories with her dad, Gregory Dunn ('18). He enrolled Ryleigh in the Junior Mean Green Club, and the pair attended games regularly until she reached high school. And of course, the traditional Homecoming bonfire is a throughline back to the 1950s, when Ryleigh's grandfather and Gregory's father, Frank Gerald "Jerry" Dunn ('60), fell in love with the college and set his family on the Mean Green path.

Jerry and Eleanor Anne Dunn
Jerry ('60) and Eleanor Anne Dunn

Jerry met his wife, Eleanor Anne (Cook) Dunn, as a student and would often take her on dates to the Campus Theater and sports events. He worked for the U.S. Treasury Department for 35 years as a national bank examiner. A longtime contributor to the UNT Alumni Association, Jerry passed away in 2009.

"My dad called North Texas the greatest small college in America," Gregory says. "He said it fit like it was made just for him."

Gregory started at NTSU in 1983 and "wanted to do it all and see it all," which included joining the track team. He set out to get a radio, TV and film degree and started a business placing students in key behind-the-scenes production positions so they could network. This led to a brief career in advertising that took him to Hollywood, though he returned to Texas in the early 1990s.

Gregory Dunn
Gregory Dunn ('18)

Gregory built a busy career that necessitated putting classes on hold, finally graduating with a degree in integrative studies in 2018. He and his wife, Jeri Lin, live in Utah, where he's a code enforcement officer with the city of South Salt Lake. He is a life member of the UNT Alumni Association.

Ryleigh followed in her parents' footsteps and is majoring in media arts. Her mom Melissa was a photography major who went on to represent photographers, designers and illustrators for national advertising companies and campaigns. She was even part owner of the country's first digital illustration studio, Studio 212.

Melissa Hopson ('83) and Ryleigh Dunn
Melissa Hopson ('83) and Ryleigh Dunn

Gregory and Melissa met years after college and were briefly married. With their shared love of UNT, Melissa says there was never any doubt that Ryleigh would end up there as well. Ryleigh and Gregory enjoyed daddy-daughter dates going to the football games.

Ryleigh sees herself staying in North Texas. After all, she hopes her children will be the fourth generation to attend UNT.