March 30, 2021

More than 470 faculty and staff members are being recognized at the Service Awards Ceremony today for their milestone anniversaries in calendar year 2020. Three people from the College of Music and two from the UNT Libraries are being honored as the longest-serving this year.




Mary Karen Clardy
Regents Professor of Flute, College of Music


Mary Karen Clardy enjoys an international career as soloist, chamber artist and master teacher, having previously served as principal flutist and soloist with the U.S. Armed Forces Bicentennial Band in Washington, D.C.

“As the Department of Defense's gift to the American people on the occasion of the U.S. Bicentennial, the premier service band toured all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canada and Mexico, and it was a privilege to be part of the group,” Clardy says.

“The reputation of the College of Music drew me to join the faculty for the opportunity to work with world-class students and colleagues, and my tenure at the university has been a richly rewarding experience. As I've observed the growth and reputation of UNT in the international musical community, it's been a joy to be a member of the College of Music.”

Clardy, who earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in flute performance from UNT, is the award-winning author of nine books and has recorded numerous solo, chamber and orchestral recordings. Her students occupy prestigious orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world.


Nancy Reis
Communications Specialist, UNT Libraries


Nancy Reis served in the government documents area of the UNT Libraries before moving to the digital libraries division, where she writes and edits content to make the digital collections easily accessible to users, assists with hiring and mentors co-workers. She also works with the Portal to Texas History, the Gateway to Oklahoma History, the Libraries' Student Assistant Supervisor Workgroup and the Web Content Workgroup, as well as answering questions that come through the Digital Library feedback system.

“Nancy adds a level of conscientiousness and professionalism to all areas where she contributes, and this makes working with her easy, enjoyable and educational,” says Mark Phillips, her supervisor and the associate dean for digital libraries. “I can honestly say that Nancy has been an unnamed mentor to years of student workers who have moved forward to continue working as staff and librarians at UNT.”

She is known by her co-workers as hard-working, dedicated and a wonderful teacher whose work is “the invisible air the Digital Library breathes to survive.” 


Catherine Sassen
Principal Cataloger, UNT Libraries


In 1979, Catherine Sassen arrived at UNT in pursuit of her master's degree in library science and served as a student assistant in the cataloging department in Willis Library, until she was offered a job as a full-time library assistant.

Sassen completed her degree in 1981 and worked as a catalog librarian at Georgia State University, then returned to UNT in 1982 to fill the same position.

“I chose to make that transition because of the positive work environment here and the opportunities provided for professional development,” says Sassen, who earned her Ph.D. from UNT in 1992.

Co-workers describe her as kind, friendly, extremely smart and “an amazingly good cataloger.” During her years at UNT, she has experienced frequent changes firsthand — for example, when the card catalog went digital and when her job required her to catalog all sorts of formats, including physical books, e-books, websites and more.

“I learned the importance of focusing on our library users,” she says, “so that we can support their teaching and research needs.”


Adam Wodnicki
Regents Professor of Piano, College of Music


A pianist renowned across the globe, Adam Wodnicki has performed and taught in Africa, Europe, North and South America, and the Far East. He has recorded on seven prestige labels as well as made numerous radio and TV recordings, and he also has produced volumes of critical editions of Polish piano music.

Born in Poland, he won the annual Chopin Society National Piano Competition in Warsaw three times and received prizes at the 8th Festival of Polish Pianists. He also was honored with a medal Gloria Artis by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

Wodnicki has been called a “formidable pianist” by Musical America as well as “a cultured, expressive performer, possessed of flair and a fluent ease of discourse” by The Dallas Morning News. An appearance at the Paderewski Festival in Krakow was called “a pianistic sensation” by Czas Krakowski.

His students have gone on to excel in music around the world.




Thomas Johnson
Assistant Professor of Guitar, College of Music


Thomas Johnson, a performer and teacher for many years, first joined UNT as an adjunct professor before serving on the full-time faculty the next year. He studied at the Oscar Espla Conservatory in Alicante, Spain, after earning degrees from SMU.

Johnson is the founder and head of UNT's classical guitar program, where he designed and implemented the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in classical guitar. He has attracted students from all over the world — from England to Greece to Malaysia to Peru — and launched them on careers as academic, recording and concert artists.

As a faculty member with Guitar Studies International, he spent many summers with American students in Spain and Italy, teaching, performing and organizing master classes with legendary guitarists Andres Segovia, Alirio Diaz, Jose Tomas and Jose Luis Rodrigo.

Johnson also has been a juror for numerous guitar competitions through the years, including the Guitar Foundation of America International Competition, and has served as a lecturer and clinician at many guitar festivals and symposiums.