Calvin Cleave ‘Jitter’ Nolen, of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, who saw enrollment increase and new campus buildings built during his tenure as university president from 1971 to 1979, died Aug. 13 at age 96.
Enrollment rose 11% during his eight years in office, with the number of graduate students also increasing. The budget increased 66%.
Major construction projects were completed, including Wooten Hall, the Art Building, the Coliseum, the General Academic Building and the Sullivant Visitor Center, now the Sullivant Public Safety Center. Additionally, the University Union was expanded, construction began on the Physical Education Building and a south wing was added to the Music Building.
The School of Community Service, the Intensive English Language Institute and the computer science department were among the programs created during this time, and Hayden Fry was hired as football coach and athletic director -- turning the Mean Green football team into a force in the 1970s. Research funding increased during Nolen’s tenure, with outside funding increasing 580%. There also was a new emphasis on alumni activities.
In 1975, legislation was signed placing the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth under the university’s Board of Regents and designating Nolen as president of TCOM.
Before coming to North Texas, he served as vice chancellor for development at Texas Christian University. His selection as president of North Texas was considered controversial since he didn’t have a graduate degree.
But A.M. Willis, chairman of the Board of Regents, said of Nolen: “He possesses keen intelligence, boundless energy and broad vision. He understands the true meaning of academic excellence because he has been exposed to the academic community all his working life -- and he is an acute observer.”
Even after Nolen left the university, he remained a popular figure, with the Council of Deans signing a letter that said he had “worked energetically and unceasingly for the transformation of the institution from a good one to a great one.” Faculty and friends hosted a farewell rally, complete with speeches and a new car paid with private donations, when the Nolen family left Denton.
After leaving office, he served as vice president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation from 1979 to 1994 before moving to Colorado.
Nolen, who received the nickname “Jitter” as a high school Boy Scout, was a member of the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1947. He retired from the Naval Reserve as a commander in 1989. He graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in educational psychology in 1948 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) by Texas Christian University in 1971. He served as director of UT’s Student Center and on the UT System’s development board before moving to TCU in 1968.
Nolen was an accomplished skier and hiker and an active member of the Colorado 100 Club. He received his 3,000-mile pin at the age of 95.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to one of the institutions he served or a place of your choice. In keeping with CDC guidelines, a family service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 20 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, followed by a reception at noon under a tent at Sayre Park, also in Glenwood Springs.