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Homecoming 2008
Winter 2008      


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Here are reports from a few of this year's events.


Talons 50th Reunion

Former and current members of the Talons spirit and service organization met outside the Athletics Center to celebrate the organization's half-century anniversary, eat chicken dinners and trade old stories. They capped the evening with work on the bonfire.

Michael Maher, senior and current Talons president, talked about his plans to revitalize old traditions and increase involvement in UNT athletics.

Remodeling the Model A, a 1929 green Ford Tudor Sedan, was his first goal. The car, which can be seen at home football games and parades, now sports new two-tone black and green paint. Maher also revitalized the tradition of the Pit Crew, the official student section of Mean Green basketball.

Sherman Swartz ('82), now an attorney in Lewisville, is a former Talons president whose pride has carried over to the next generation. His children, 4 and 6, have never missed a Homecoming bonfire.

"It's definitely a family affair," he says.

After dinner, the crowd retreated to the nearby open field where a heap of pallets waited and where the UNT bonfire would burn in just 24 hours.


Golden Eagles Reunion

Thirty alumni from the Class of 1958 returned to campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation. About 100 people gathered at the luncheon to honor their special milestone.

Clad in a green shirt capturing the right shade of Mean Green spirit, R. David Lipscomb ('58) thumbed through his Yucca yearbook with his fellow classmate, Michael Schulze ('58), letting the black-and-white pages unleash a flood of memories.

Ever since Lipscomb and his friend, Roy Orbison, left their hometown of Wink, Texas, to attend North Texas, Lipscomb has been an unwavering supporter of his alma mater. Lipscomb, who followed Orbison's career as the singer skyrocketed to fame, is a UNT football season ticket holder."It's been great to see the university grow like it has," said Lipscomb, who studied government. "It's like a magical moment every time I come back to campus."

During the luncheon, Class President Michael McMillen ('58) handed out gifts to Myrtle Neale Nall Marino ('42) of the Class of 1942 who joined the 1958 Golden Eagles, and to Val Winger ('58), who traveled the farthest from his home in Gruver, Texas, to attend. Inside were gifts handpainted by newly inducted Golden Eagle Don Edmonds ('58), who was president of the United Students of North Texas in 1958.

Nora Van Arsdall Harper ('58) earned her teaching degree at North Texas and met her husband, Ronald, who also attended the university before he was drafted into the Army.

They have visited the campus often through the years while seeing friends. But at the luncheon, the Harpers took special pleasure in reliving the changes North Texas has undergone.

"We've always thought it was a great school," she said.

Spirit March and Bonfire

UNT's annual Spirit March began at dusk on Friday with the Greeks following the Talons, Boomer and the Model A. The march grew to thousands as students from each residence hall joined in to make their way to the yell contest and bonfire lighting across the interstate.

Paul Rosenberger ('99) and his wife, Lanie, brought Reagan and her friend from their home in Flower Mound to this year's bonfire.

"I never attended as a student, but I read about the Homecoming celebrations in the alumni magazine and thought it would be a lot of fun to bring the family," he said.

During the pre-party, head football coach Todd Dodge and several football players spoke to the crowd, thanking them for their support through a tough season. Scrappy also got funky to the music, and the band played UNT spirit favorites.


Green Jackets Reunion

About 40 members of the original Green Jackets, a women's spirit and service organization that served the North Texas campus for more than 50 years, gathered at Homecoming in the newly refurbished lobby of the Administration Building for lunch and sharing of stories and memorabilia.

The Green Jackets were founded in 1925 to help on campus wherever they were needed. At registration, members staffed an information booth and directed students waiting in long lines to the correct tables for signing up for classes.

"We had to know every building on campus and all the names of the administrators, and we were regularly quizzed on North Texas history," Michelle Meda Smith ('75) said.

Whenever the football team took the field or the basketball team took the court, the Green Jackets were there in the stands, cheering together.

"A lot of the guys didn't like the fact that we had to sit together as a group. That meant we couldn't be their dates for games," Rita Majors ('59) said.

The Green Jackets also were ushers at performing arts events, readers to blind students and assistants at campus blood drives, freshman orientation and Homecoming. They served outside the campus at the Denton State School and Cumberland Children's Home.

"We loved it. Once you were a Green Jacket, you were always a Green Jacket," Smith said.

The Green Jackets disbanded at the end of the 1970s, but the Division of Student Development brought the organization back in 2006. Ten outstanding students — male and female — are selected each year to assist the vice president for student development at university events and serve as guides for notable visitors to campus.

Omega Psi Phi Dedication

Traveling from across the country, members of the Phi Gamma chapter of Omega Psi Phi gathered under an oak tree on Prairie Street to celebrate 40 years of brotherhood and recognize their place in history. About 100 members surrounded a new stone marker commemorating the place where the group's original house, the Que House, once stood. 

"During a time of unprecedented growth in UNT's black student population, the Que House was the epicenter of social life for black collegians across the Southwest," the text reads.

After a prayer and dedication by Johnny Simpson ('68), one of the charter members, and the group's sing-along of the fraternity hymn, fraternity brothers passed around a framed photo of the house, trading stories of their days on campus.

"This is where it was happening," remembered Calvin Christopher, who attended the university from 1970 to 1973 and traveled from Los Angeles to attend the event. 

With the chapter's creation at North Texas in 1968, the group joined the small list of historically African American fraternities present on a predominantly white campus in the South. Robert Davis ('68), a dentist living in Dayton, Ohio, was the first president of the charter group.

"There were no outlets for blacks at that time," he said, "motivating us to start a chapter here."

The first group's 24 members were some of the most outstanding black students, Davis said, adding that the fraternity set standards for school involvement as well as academics and high moral character.

"It was these guys," Lawrence Harkless said, patting Davis on the back. "They were role models for me, always telling me I could do better, so I did."

Harkless, who attended North Texas from 1968 to 1971, is the founding dean of the College of Podiatric Medicine and professor of podiatric medicine and surgery at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif.

While the chapter doesn't currently have a fraternity house, the close camaraderie between the current students is evident. 

"We're always together," said Leslie Rose, a senior kinesiology major and one of the 11 current chapter members. "I'm astonished to see 40 years of greatness," he said. "I just love what this organization stands for."

Homecoming Parade

The Mean Green Nation came out in force to watch the 2008 Homecoming Parade. Students and alumni lined the streets along the parade route to catch a glimpse of the festive floats. 

This year's theme was "Vote Mean Green Nation," and parade participants were encouraged to support campus sustainability efforts by using environmentally friendly materials in the construction of their floats.

The National Student Speech and Language Hearing Association's float took home the Mean Green Award for its environmentally friendly design. The float was made entirely of recyclable materials, including newspaper and aluminum cans. The organization also avoided aerosol paint and adhesives. 

Delta Gamma took home the President's Trophy for the second year, with its presidential-themed float, built with help from Sigma Nu and Alpha Tau Omega. It featured the Troy Trojan as an air traffic controller landing Air Force One and Scrappy, as president, delivering an address at a podium.

"We wanted to do something original. We spent three weeks putting the float together," said Sarah Keigley, Delta Gamma's director of scholarship.

The spectators appreciated the time and effort that went into the floats. Shaun Keese ('00) watched the parade with his two young daughters.

"I graduated from North Texas, so we come out every year," Keese said. "My favorite part is seeing my daughters' reactions to the floats going by."

Delta Gamma and Kappa Delta Groundbreaking

The parking lot in front of UNT's Kappa Kappa Gamma house was full on Homecoming Day, not with cars, but with roughly 200 people who turned out to celebrate the rebirth of Delta Gamma and Kappa Delta sororities and the groundbreaking of their new houses.

The patch of grass next to the Kappa Kappa Gamma house will soon give way to two 27-bed houses for the returning sororities. By next summer, both sisterhoods will have new homes to honor their renewed presence on campus.

Delta Gamma and Kappa Delta both became part of the campus in the 1950s, then experienced a hiatus starting in the 1970s when ranks thinned and local chapters closed. Delta Gamma, which returned last year, now has 85 members in its UNT chapter, while Kappa Delta is in the process of re-forming its UNT chapter and will open in February.

Donna Jones ('65), a Delta Gamma alumna who studied communications, came back for the groundbreaking to celebrate her sorority's new chapter. She is now an advisor to the current generation of Delta Gammas at UNT and is glad they will have a place to call home. When she attended North Texas, sororities were housed together in Chilton Hall.

"I think it will help them bond faster," Jones said of the new house. "I think they'll feel more a part of the Greek system."

In fact, with the resurgence of Delta Gamma and Kappa Delta chapters, all of the original members of the Panhellenic Association will once again be present on campus.

Nancy Collard Hilliard ('60), a Kappa Delta alumna who was front and center for the groundbreaking, said the time had come for her sorority to be back at UNT.

"It's part of their identity," said the retired teacher. "They are part of a great organization that has done something good."

Perhaps those who were most excited by the new sorority houses were the current generation of Delta Gammas. Kristen O'Leary, the chapter's president, said they have done so much already without a sorority home.

"I can't even imagine the things to come when we have a place to come together," she said.


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