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    Opening convocation

Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to enter space, spoke at the UNT Honors College Convocation in January, which celebrated the establishment of the college. The ceremony also included musical performances by former and current honors students and a proclamation by Denton Mayor Euline Brock (’74 Ph.D.).

On the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992, Jemison served as science mission specialist on an eight-day joint mission between Japan and the United States. Jemison, who is a medical doctor and chemical engineer, was co-investigator of a bone cell research experiment on the mission. Today, she is founder of the Jemison Group Inc. and is building a medical technology company, BioSentient Corp.

The UNT Honors College replaced the university’s honors program in August 2005 and is expected to increase academic challenges for high-achieving students and make the university more attractive to incoming freshmen. More than 750 students are enrolled.

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Alternative Spring Break

A group of 25 UNT students traveled to San Antonio to work on a community service project as part of the university’s first Alternative Spring Break, sponsored by the UNT Volunteer Center.

The students, who were chosen from among 45 applicants, volunteered at San Antonio Youth Centers Inc., the Methodist Children's Hospital and the San Antonio Food Bank. They completed 30 to 35 hours of service before returning to Denton March 17. Each student paid $100 to participate and held fundraisers for grocery money and other expenses.

Mary Pastorius, director of student life and involvement for the UNT Dean of Students Department, says the Volunteer Center plans to expand the sites for ASB next year.

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Oscar winner

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry ('58) has added some prestigious new awards to his mantel this year. He and co-writer Diana Ossana won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for the screenplay of the movie Brokeback Mountain.

In his acceptance speech during the March 5 Oscar telecast, McMurtry thanked the booksellers of the world, "contributors to the survival of the culture of the book." At the Golden Globes Jan. 16, it was his Hermes 3000 typewriter that received praise.

The Brokeback Mountain screenplay, adapted from an Annie Proulx short story, also won numerous critics' awards.

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Finger food

UNT students, faculty and staff are traveling lighter these days with a new payment system that uses biometric finger-image technology instead of cash, credit cards or checks. Sodexho, the vendor that provides food services in the University Union, activated new iMye technology this semester, allowing UNT students and other members of the university community to buy meals at Sodexho facilities on campus and pay for food and services at 20 businesses in Denton by touching a finger on a special iMye scanner.

Customers sign up at iMye’s web site, place funds in a prepaid account and visit a scanning station to process biometric information through a finger scan. Each individual’s scan is converted into a unique mathematical marker encrypted for security. When the individual makes a purchase, the scanner identifies the algorithm registered to align with that person’s finger, and the dollar amount is deducted from the account. (The iMye system does not retain a visual image of the finger scan.)

UNT is one of only two campuses in the nation so far to implement a dining program using the technology. Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., is the other.

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