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Top-tier rankings

Two UNT graduate programs received top-tier rankings from U.S. News and World Report this year. The master's and doctoral degree programs in counselor education ranked in the nation's top 20, and the master of fine arts program in art and design is listed among the nation's top 50. The counselor education program was the highest-ranked Texas program, and only one other Texas M.F.A. program ranked in the top 50. These latest U.S. News and World Report rankings join other top-tier rankings for UNT graduate programs, including library science, health librarianship, information systems, city management and urban policy, music, jazz studies, conducting, composition and art education.

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Medical geography

What does medicine have to do with geography? Joseph Oppong, UNT associate professor of geography, can answer that question. Oppong, who will serve as the chair of the Medical Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers for the next three years, tracks the spread of diseases and the geography of health care services. He says medical geographers study "who gets what diseases and health care where and why," using geographic information systems and concepts such as demographics, ethnomedicine and cultural mores. The UNT Department of Geography will host the International Medical Geography Symposium in Fort Worth in 2005 to provide a venue for cutting-edge studies and reports on the spread of diseases. For more information, contact the department at (940) 565-2091.

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Jazz winners

former members of the One O'Clock Lab Band
Above: Former members of the One O'Clock Lab Band who played under the direction of Leon Breeden present a plaque of appreciation to him at the North Texas Jazz Festival in Addison. From left are Clay Jenkins ('76), Bob Morgan ('63,'65 M.M.), Jim Riggs ('72 M.M.) behind Morgan, Jim Pritchard ('74), Charlie Young ('80), Ed Soph ('68), Dan Haerle ('66 M.M.) and Leon Breeden.

At this year's annual North Texas Jazz Festival in Addison, everything was coming up awards. The festival unveiled its new Leon Breeden Award for the best middle school or high school big band. The St. Charles West Jazz Ensemble, a high school big band from St. Charles, Mo., received the inaugural award, created to honor the former One O'Clock Lab Band and jazz studies program director and his dedication to jazz education. Also presented was the first $1,000 Town of Addison Jazz Scholarship, which went to Clay Pritchard, a UNT freshman jazz tenor saxophonist. He is a second-generation member of the UNT One O'Clock Lab Band, following in the footsteps of his father, baritone saxophonist Jim Pritchard ('74), who was a student at UNT and a member of the band in the 1970s. Jim Pritchard is now a music educator in Grapevine.


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Scholarship news

UNT students did well in national scholarship competitions this year.

Coca-Cola Scholar: Rebekah Hurt of Dallas, a May graduate of UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, was one of four students from Texas and one of 50 in the nation to win a $20,000 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation this year. Established in 1986, the foundation provides scholarships to high school seniors who have excelled academically; demonstrated motivation to serve and succeed; held leadership positions in school, civic and extracurricular activities; and have strong personal character. TAMS graduates Hutch Ice of Nocona and John Varghese of Hickory Creek were named semifinalists in the competition.

Goldwater Scholars: For the third year in a row, UNT leads other Texas universities in the number of students receiving Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, which are considered among the country's most prestigious. All four of UNT's Goldwater Scholars Daniel Birt from Corpus Christi, Shinjita Das and Andrea Runyan from Fort Worth and Andrew Liu from Highland Village are May graduates of UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science. No more than four students from each college or university can receive the scholarships, awarded to students planning careers in mathematics, science and engineering. This year, UNT had more scholars than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology and Stanford and Yale and tied with 10 other universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Cornell, in having the maximum number of scholars. UNT is one of only two universities in the nation to have the maximum number three years in a row. The other is Duke University.

Intel Semifinalists: Five recent Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science graduates were honored as semifinalists in the 2003 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation's premier program to recognize high school student research in science, mathematics and engineering. Adam Hinze of Granbury, Juliet Howe of Crowley, Andrea Runyan of Fort Worth, Cindy Wang of San Antonio and Jessica Yih of Arlington were among 14 Texas students named semifinalists in this year's competition. Nationwide, 300 Intel semifinalists were selected from more than 1,500 applicants. TAMS has produced 27 semifinalists for this honor since 1993.

Truman Finalist: For the sixth time since 1998, a UNT student was selected as a finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Senior Sandra Ehlert, who is earning a bachelor's degree in anthropology, was one of nine finalists from Texas and one of 213 finalists in the nation in this year's Truman Scholarship competition. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding students who have demonstrated interest in federal, state or local government careers. Three UNT students have won Truman Scholarships since 1998.


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Recent deaths

Delmer Brown

Delmer Brown ('39), 88, of Houston, former North Texas track standout and world record holder, died May 1.

After setting a world record in the medley relay in 1938 with his twin brother, Elmer ('38, '49 M.S.), and twins Wayne ('40) and Blaine ('40) Rideout, Brown coached track and worked in athletic training at universities including Baylor and Texas Tech.

He retired from Texas A&M at Commerce in 1980 and lived in Galveston before moving to Houston in 2001 to be closer to his children.

Lee Eldridge Huddleston

Lee Eldridge Huddleston, 67, of Denton, associate professor of history since 1967, died May 29 in Denton. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Texas Tech University in 1959 and his doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.

He had taught at PMC Colleges in Chester, Pa., the University of Arkansas, Colorado State University and Kansas State University. At UNT he taught courses in Latin American history and the ancient Near East and served as an undergraduate adviser in the history department.

His book Origins of the Indians: European Concepts, 1492-1729, was published by the University of Texas Press in 1967, and he had written numerous articles, abstracts for the Handbook of Latin American Studies and book reviews.

He was currently researching the origins and development of certain social and theological concepts in the ancient Near East and Pre-Columbian America. The research was for a book he had tentatively titled Footnotes in the Name of God.

Gail Smith Rola

Gail Smith Rola ('84 M.Ed.), 47, of Flower Mound, assistant dean of the School of Community Service and lecturer in rehabilitation, social work and addictions since 1998, died May 19 at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

She was formerly the dean of student services at Brookhaven College in Dallas where she began her career as a receptionist in the counseling center. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas and her master's in counseling and student services from North Texas and was working on her doctorate in higher education at UNT. She was also a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in marriage and family counseling.

Among her professional memberships were the National Career Development Association, the National Academic Advising Association and the National Coalition Building Institute.

Rola was founder of the Imani Institute at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church in Carrollton and served on the board of directors of the Dallas Kindness Foundation and the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Memorial donations may be made to the Gail Rola Service Learning Scholarship in care of Trey Anderson, University of North Texas, School of Community Service, P.O. Box 305248, Denton, Texas 76203-5248.

Velma Olive Smith Selby

Velma Olive Smith Selby, 92, retired assistant professor of music, died May 5 in Denton. She taught at North Texas from 1939 to 1942 and from 1960 to 1975.

She earned a bachelor's degree in music from Texas Christian University and a master's degree from the Teacher's College at Columbia University. When she first worked at North Texas, she supervised student teachers in the music education department. She then married and moved to California, returning to Denton after World War II. She taught music at Jefferson Davis Elementary School in Denton before rejoining the North Texas faculty.

She was a longtime member of the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church of Denton. She and her husband, George D. Selby, recently contributed to UNT's Oral History Collection. George Selby grew up in what is now Denton's Bayless-Selby House Museum.

Ron Shanklin

Ron Shanklin, 55, a former football player who coached at North Texas from 1982 to 1991, died April 17 at his home in DeSoto.

Shanklin played for the Mean Green from 1967 to 1969 and holds school records for most receiving touchdowns in a game (three), season (13) and career (31). He ranks second in school history in reception yards with 2,465 and third in receptions with 144.

Shanklin, who played six seasons in the National Football League, was the second player ever drafted by Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll — the first was Terry Bradshaw. Shanklin led the Steelers in receptions each of his first three seasons (1971-73), earned a Pro Bowl berth and was a member of the Super Bowl IX championship team.

Richard Swerdlin

Richard Swerdlin, 73, retired associate professor of teacher education and administration who taught at North Texas from 1970 to 1997, died April 17 at his home in Denton.

He was born in New York City and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. From 1953 to 1958 he served in the Air Force, studying electronics and navigation and doing a tour of duty in Korea.

Swerdlin earned his bachelor's degree from the City College of New York and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Cincinnati. He taught elementary school in Ohio and was a faculty member at Southern Illinois University and the University of Louisville before joining the elementary education faculty at North Texas.

He was a member of several professional organizations, including the American Association of University Professors, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Education Association, Phi Delta Kappa and the Texas State Teachers Association.

He was interested in languages, gardening and writing and was an advocate for children's education, civil rights and animal rights. He was a supporter of the Denton Public Library, the Humane Society, the Lions Club and the Esperanto League.

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