On Sept. 16, 1890, in a boomtown on the North Texas prairie, Joshua C. Chilton established
the Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute with 70 students and these
“It will be our aim to become leaders in the education of the young men and women
of Texas, fitting them to creditably fill the most important positions in business
and professional circles. We desire the cooperation of all who believe in higher education
and who want to see our state in the very front of intellectual as well as material
For more than 130 years, the University of North Texas has fulfilled its mission to
create leaders and visionaries. Our students and alumni embody creativity, curiosity
and something else that distinguishes them and makes them successful — resiliency.
These qualities are in UNT’s DNA, borne of an independent spirit that sets us apart.
From admitting women on our opening day to pioneering water quality research for the
region, establishing the nation’s first jazz studies program and becoming one of the
first universities in Texas to desegregate, UNT always takes the road less traveled
on our path to excellence.
From humble origins in a rented space above a hardware store in downtown Denton, UNT
has grown into one of the nation’s largest public universities and the largest in
the North Texas region. We’re a thriving Tier One public research university with
more than 42,000 students and a path to any career. As an intellectual and economic
engine for Denton, the greater North Texas region and the state, we fuel progress
and entrepreneurship. And as a catalyst for creativity, we launch new ideas, perspectives
and innovations. As we’ve grown, so has our reach and impact. Our programs are nationally
and internationally recognized. Our research and scholarship spans the arts, science,
engineering and everything in between. Our world-class faculty are making breakthroughs
every day. And our students and alumni are changing the world around them for the
better. (Photo from an English Class in the 1960 Yucca yearbook.)
History Highlights by Decades
1890s and 1900s
The first building on campus was the Normal Building, completed in 1891 at Hickory
and Avenue B, where a fence kept out straying livestock. The private college reached
an important milestone when it became state-funded in 1901. Its students lived in
boarding houses around campus, following strict curfews and regulations regarding
conduct, visitors, telephone use and buggy riding.
1910s and 1920s
The first library opened in 1913, the year enrollment broke 1,000 and sports officially
began. Standard four-year degrees were offered just as students left for World War
I. Campus life picked up in the ’20s with the debut of Saturday Night Stage Shows,
directed by ’Fessor Floyd Graham and featuring his Aces of Collegeland band. The shows,
tours and radio broadcasts spread the fame of the music program.
The campus felt the effects of the Depression, but government funding programs supported
the construction of the first dorms and a new library, and the college became one
of the first in the nation to offer adult education classes. As master’s programs
developed, faculty research began to grow. The first funded studies on water quality
marked the birth of UNT’s work in environmental science.
The campus served as a military training site during World War II, and enrollment
was cut in half as students were called to service. After the war, Vet Village was
created for returning veterans and their families, ushering in married and graduate
student housing on campus. In 1949, the first permanent Union was dedicated as a memorial
to students who had died in the two world wars.
The college, which dropped “Teachers” from its name in 1949, focused on offering more
programs and more opportunities. Doctoral work began, the first African American students
enrolled and faculty gained national recognition. In the Union, students waited in
line for coffee cake and danced the North Texas Push, and Greek organizations arrived
as local fraternities and sororities went national.
The ’60s began with one of the biggest moments in the history of the college as it
became a university in 1961. Enrollment soon topped 10,000 students and a new Union
was built to accommodate the growth. As the decade neared its end, 2,000 students
and friends marched in memory of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King. “Dr.
King never came to North Texas. But part of his dream did,” The Campus Chat wrote.
Commitment to the environment deepened as the university observed the first Earth
Day with teach-ins and a campus cleanup, and the Institute of Applied Sciences was
founded. While students dealt with the high gas prices of the energy crisis, other
global ties strengthened and the number of international students began to grow. New
construction and renovation included a library and an expanded Union.
The 1980s brought an enrollment of more than 20,000 and a new name to reflect the
university’s role as a significant graduate and research university. The decade also
brought innovative programs to campus. UNT became home to the Texas Academy of Mathematics
and Science, a unique residential program for high-achieving high school students,
and drew other prestigious programs funding excellence in teaching and the arts.
UNT began a yearlong celebration of its Centennial in 1990, and the 15-foot Eagle
statue, “In High Places,” was installed near the Union in honor of the occasion. Other
iconic construction in the ’90s included the Environmental Education, Science and
Technology Building, which was UNT’s first green building, and the premier venues
of the Murchison Performing Arts Center.
The campus entered the 21st century with more growth ahead. More than 30,000 students
were enrolled by 2002, and science and technology programs multiplied as the College
of Engineering and the Discovery Park campus were created. Students flocked to a new
After decades of investment in research, UNT was named a Tier One research university
by the Carnegie Classification. New buildings included the first-of-its-kind Apogee
Stadium, the Life Sciences Complex, Kristin Farmer Autism Center, University Union,
Joe Greene Hall, Welcome Center and Support and Services Building. College of Arts
and Sciences was split to form the College of Science and the College of Liberal Arts
and Social Sciences. G. Brint and Amanda Ryan donated $30 million to name the G. Brint
Ryan College of Business.
Names of UNT
|Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute
|North Texas Normal College
|North Texas State Normal College
|North Texas State Teachers College
|North Texas State College
|North Texas State University
|University of North Texas
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