Born from an idea coupled with enterprise in 1890, the University of North Texas has quietly invited students to discover the power of ideas for more than 115 years.
Today nearly 175,000 living alumni are evidence of the university's broad legacy of excellence. Former students pursue fulfilling lives and successful careers in everything from the arts, education and business to law, medicine and research.
It's a legacy deserving of recognition.
That's why on April 27, university officials launched a new branding campaign, declaring UNT the best place to discover the power of ideas.
"We understand our heritage and our future," says President Norval Pohl. "Now is the time to aggressively define how we want others to see us. This is the time to make great progress."
What is a brand?
Our brand is an expression of our unique personality — our traditions, history, culture, values, mission and aspirations. It is the collection of words, symbols, colors, ideas and emotions that we want people to experience when they think of UNT. Our distinct brand ties us together with a common purpose and identity. It sets us apart from our competitors, creates awareness and establishes relevance with those we serve.
More than words
By simultaneously creating an academic plan that charts its future and launching a campaign to strengthen its brand, the university is taking bold steps toward claiming its rightful place as a leader in higher education in Texas and the nation.
The campaign to strengthen UNT's brand in the minds of others began with the unveiling of a more vibrant shade of green, updated images and a tagline -- "Discover the power of ideas" -- that represent the university's personality and founding philosophies.
But the UNT brand is more than colors, graphics and words.
Like the university, the brand was born as an idea. It has grown into a promise to be kept, and it is defined by the people it represents.
"The first catalog described North Texas as an independent, progressive, original and non-sectarian (or diverse) institution," says Deborah Leliaert ('96 M.Ed.), vice president for university relations.
"Today those traits are woven deep within the fabric of this university. The experiences of our students and success of our alumni show that to be true."
UNT provides fertile, formative ground for students to grow in. Many left North Texas and found fame.
Multiple Grammy Award winner Norah Jones spent two years in the College of Music studying jazz before pursuing her career in New York. Phil McGraw ('76 M.A., '79 Ph.D.) -- a.k.a. Dr. Phil, TV's favorite psychologist -- earned his degrees from North Texas. Academy award nominee Thomas Haden Church also studied here.
Other former students include journalist Bill Moyers and author Larry McMurtry ('58), actors Joe Don Baker ('58) and Peter Weller ('70), and a score of musicians ranging from legendary jazz guitarist Herb Ellis and School House Rock composer Bob Dorough ('49) to Metropolitan opera singers and rock 'n' roll stars.
Yet the power of a UNT education doesn't just belong to the famous. In fact, the beauty of North Texas is in the strength of the ordinary people who do extraordinary things every day.
For example, Marcy Graves ('81), a respiratory therapist who donned "Nurse Ducky" attire complete with 2-inch rhinestone lashes, a red clown nose and a duck puppet named Quackers, spread humor and healing with hand-held nebulizers and chest percussion for 25 years.
Once a week, Nurse Ducky and Quackers embarked on hospital rounds with a crew of other clowns to spread laughter and love to the patients at Harris Methodist Southwest in Fort Worth.
Granted, Graves says she may have been the only premed student to come out of UNT with a minor in theater, but using what she learned on campus to meet the needs of the world is not unique.
Aretha Livingston ('80), an instructional specialist at Lowery Road Elementary in Fort Worth, also uses her North Texas training to help others.
In 2000, while she was teaching fifth grade at Greenbriar Elementary School in Fort Worth, she came back to UNT to participate in the Transforming Education Through the Arts Challenge -- a five-year, $15 million national education reform initiative funded by the Annenberg Foundation and Getty Trust that uses fine art as a basis for teaching.
"When we started the program I didn't know how art could help me teach," she says. "But it makes a subject tangible, and the kids love to learn about it."
The program's impact is immeasurable, she says, and today as she assists other teachers and develops curriculum she encourages widespread use of art in the classroom.
That's the reality of North Texas -- the experiences and successes of our students and alumni. That's the UNT brand.
Exploration and invention
Yet the brand is also the spirit within UNT professors that drives them to explore the ideas behind invention and understanding.
Just as composers, artists and philosophers search for meaning, scientists within UNT laboratories search for answers.
A physicist wondered if science could help people use medicine properly, since not taking the right dose at the right time can be dangerous.
He created a self-regulating delivery system for medicine by using hydrogels -- water-based, gelatin-like polymers that can be programmed to expand and contract in reaction to temperature.
At the same time, a biologist wondered if a flower's own cells could help stop its petals from wilting once it was cut.
He discovered that a solution of lipids would naturally slow the decay.
Working together, a graphic designer and a team of social work professors wondered if they could help curb teen smoking. They combined their talents to create an educational CD-ROM targeted at middle school students that is now being used in schools across Texas and in other states.
Getting the word out
The UNT brand is as broad and as diverse as the university itself. It's defined by the university's history, personality, quirks and behaviors.
Beginning this summer, the Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing, which led the branding effort, will launch a regional advertising campaign to help ensure that the university's reputation matches the strength of its programs and people.
Next year, most student athletes will begin wearing the new marks. Soon, the updated color, graphics and tagline will be implemented across campus -- on everything from T-shirts to the sides of the buses as well as on bumper stickers and building signs.
Alumni and friends of the university can support the effort by purchasing UNT merchandise and showing it off.
Merchandise with the new marks will soon be available online at the UNT Bookstore and