Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021

Dear UNT Community,

I am deeply saddened to share the news of the death of Vice Provost for Faculty Success Dr. Bertina Combes, a longtime member of our UNT family who was a dedicated educator and tireless supporter of our students and our university. She died Feb. 19 of complications due to COVID-19.

Bertina will be remembered as an exemplary educator and mentor who was devoted to her faith and believed in the power of education to transform lives. Having served in numerous roles since she arrived at UNT in 1989, the one closest to Bertina's heart was likely her role as a professor of special education in the College of Education's Department of Educational Psychology. Her many leadership positions through the years included serving as coordinator of special education programs and as associate and interim dean of the college.

Our students were always her focus, and it earned her high praise in their eyes. She was named a Student Association Honors Professor and a Mortar Board Top Prof, and she'd earned numerous other awards, including the first Ulys and Vera Knight Faculty Mentor Award.

The child of college educators, she created the Drs. Eddie and Gladys Hildreth Scholarship at UNT, named for her parents. To honor Bertina, a scholarship has been created in her name as well. Memorial gifts to honor her legacy may be made to the Bertina H. Combes Scholarship fund through University Advancement, or call 940-891-6860 for information.

Remember that counseling services are available. Our Counseling and Testing Services will host a session from noon to 1 p.m. for faculty and staff and 2 to 3 p.m. for students tomorrow (Monday, Feb. 22), and again Feb. 24 from 4 to 5 p.m. for students, faculty and staff. Please email for the virtual links.

Bertina will be deeply missed by our community and the students she so passionately served. We will celebrate her life at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, in a virtual recognition (the link will be provided closer to the event). Please keep her family in your thoughts as well as those who worked closely with her and the students who were inspired by her.

Neal Smatresk
UNT President