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'Fessor's 100th by Michelle Garcia
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'Fessor's 100th

Down the Corridor


Floyd Graham’s first instrument was a handmade cigar-box fiddle. From that beginning evolved a knack for music that made him one of the most famous professors in North Texas history.

This Oct. 15 marks the 100th birthday of the man known as ’Fessor Graham, who died in 1974. His 47 years at North Texas began in 1927, when he joined the music department, teaching and conducting the concert and marching bands. But the charismatic teacher was also a showman who incorporated a public relations course into the department and created the Aces of Collegeland — the university’s dance band and a powerful public relations tool.

As director of the Aces and the Saturday Night Stage Shows, which were presented weekly from 1927 to 1961 and annually from 1962 to 1970, Graham entertained the campus, community and state. The Aces, together with other acts, traveled and performed for civic organizations, veterans’ hospitals and Texas military bases.

photo of 'Fessor Floyd Graham Graham always showed a genuine interest in his students. His daughter, Pati Haworth (’76), says he frequently stayed after classes to give more instruction. During the Depression, he helped students obtain instruments and secure lodging and meals.

Jack Rumbley (’51, ’52 M.M.Ed.) played the drums in the Aces for three years and fondly remembers Graham. “’Fessor carried my drums in his car because I didn’t have a car,” Rumbley says. “And he paid us well; we each got $4 per engagement.”

Graham’s dedication did not go unrewarded. In March 1958, the United Students of North Texas declared the first “’Fessor Graham Day” and proposed an annual award be presented in his name to a faculty member selected by students. The ’Fessor Graham Award is still given today to recognize faculty members for “outstanding and unselfish service beyond the call of duty to students.” And his name lives on in the annual meetings of the Floyd Graham Society, open to all who value his contributions to North Texas.

The Floyd Graham Society will meet at 11 a.m. Nov. 2 in the Golden Eagle Suite of the University Union. Festivities will include dancing to the Aces of Collegeland. For reservations, contact Lindsay Keffer at P.O. Box 310710, Denton, Texas 76203-0710, or e-mail by Oct. 30.


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