More than 550 faculty and staff members will be recognized at the Service Awards Ceremony at 3 p.m., Tuesday, March 22, in the University Union Emerald Ballroom for their milestone anniversaries in calendar year 2021. Eight faculty and staff members will be honored as the longest-serving this year with 40 and 45 years of service.
See the complete list of all UNT staff and faculty who celebrated milestone anniversaries in 2021.
Associate Librarian, UNT Libraries
Donna Arnold is no stranger to Denton. She completed a Ph.D. in musicology at UNT in 1982 and a master's in library science from Texas Woman's University in 1991.“Denton was much smaller than it is now, but it had definite pleasant small-town amenities,” says Arnold. While she was working toward her doctorate, Arnold took a job in UNT's world-class music library. It was during that time she realized she wanted to become a music librarian. She also taught beginner's courses in music theory through the College of Music. “I always enjoyed being a student who was continuously learning,” Arnold says. “I wanted a chance to teach others some of what I knew.” She says her biggest accomplishment while working at UNT is taking her knowledge of the music library and its resources and using it to help students and faculty members in their research and academic studies. “I have seen exponential growth of the whole university, of the music program and the Music Library,” she says.
Custodial Supervisor, UNT Facilities
Gregory Forte worked his way up from custodian to supervisor during his time at UNT.
Over the past four decades, he has become very knowledgeable about the university and knows how every inch of the campus operates.
“There is not a space on campus that he doesn't know,” says David Barkenhagen, senior maintenance manager for UNT Facilities. “Before he was promoted to supervisor, there probably wasn't a space on campus that he hadn't cleaned or been involved with in some way.”
That's important when making plans for the staff because “it's one thing to look at the layout of a building but another thing entirely to know how the areas in the building are used,” he says.
Forte says that his favorite thing about UNT is the people that he has worked with through the years.
“It's amazing that he has been here 40 years — he has such great institutional knowledge and has so much to offer the university and our department in Facilities,” says Barkenhagen. “He's very patient and the staff knows he cares.”
Food Service Assistant, UNT Dining Services
Mark Madlock is a Denton native who came to UNT to find opportunities within the hospitality industry.
After graduating from Denton High School in 1980, he began his career working for UNT Dining Services.
“Mark always wants to do his best work for the students who dine at UNT and Bruce dining hall, and he says his biggest accomplishment is seeing happy students, faculty and staff after a great meal,” says Peter Balabuch, his supervisor and executive director of UNT Dining Services.
During the past 40 years, Madlock has seen tremendous growth at UNT, not just on campus but also in his place of work.
He has witnessed buildings come up and some gone down; he has seen every iteration of dining hall services, from extremely limited offerings to the diverse menu currently served at Bruce.
He also has enjoyed working with co-workers at UNT and appreciates the management team at Bruceteria.
“At Bruce, I have worked with seven different general managers,” Madlock says, “and the growth in leadership has been a great thing to see.”
Administrative Coordinator, Dean of Students
Claire Medina always knew she wanted to work at a university. She was inspired by her parents to pursue a career within a higher learning institution.
“My parents worked as professors in higher education at TWU and UT Arlington,” Medina says. “I used to go to class with them when I was young and knew then I wanted to work in higher education.”
Medina was able to make her goals a reality when she began her career at UNT in 1981.
She started as a clerk in the custodial services department and worked her way up to an administrative assistant position. She transferred to Student Activities and then moved to the Dean of Students office as an administrative coordinator, where she worked until her retirement in December 2021.
During her 40-year career, Medina has been able to raise her children on the UNT campus just like her parents raised her. She also has enjoyed the opportunity to work with the staff and students.
“I always considered the students to be like children of my own,” she says. “To this day, I keep in touch with many of our former students.”
Administrative Specialist, Office of Admissions
Before her current role as an administrative specialist, Carolyn Mitchell held several positions in Admissions. She was a processing clerk, assistant supervisor, supervisor and recruitment specialist, all which gave her experience for her current position.
She was inspired by her older sister to work in education and gain valuable experience by interning at Hopper Elementary.
“My sister was an elementary teacher and I would assist her in performing various tasks in the classroom with her students. I fell in love with it,” Mitchell says. “While I was in high school, I received an internship to work at Hobbs Elementary -- and that is what drew me to education.”
Mitchell has seen continuous record enrollment year after year at UNT. When she began working in Admissions, the office did not have computers, and everything was done manually.
“Writing over thousands of acceptance letters by hand was a challenge, so when we received our first computer, it was a game-changer,” Mitchell says.
She has seen new residence halls built and renovated, the creation of the new Welcome Center and renovations to the University Union. There is also more diversity among the student population since she arrived in 1981.
She says her favorite part of the job is meeting with prospective students and their parents.
“The joy of telling the students they have been accepted and to see the look on their faces was priceless, and welcoming them to the Mean Green family!”
Professor, Information Technology and Decision Sciences
Before beginning his career in higher education, Robert Pavur was in the U.S. Navy, working in cryptologic warfare while completing his doctorate.
“I wanted to further my education, so I enrolled in a doctoral program in mathematical statistics,” Pavur says. “I continued my military service as a member of the naval reserve.”
He earned his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University in 1981, then decided he wanted to find a position as a professor and researcher. That decision led him to UNT.
“I like the creative process of organizing technical and analytical materials into teachable units,” says Pavur, who serves as the Ph.D. coordinator in the ITDS department and has taught business statistics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. “When students develop respect for a discipline and say that a course has positively influenced their lives, it is very rewarding. In addition, UNT has an amazing group of colleagues and scholars that make research very gratifying and fulfilling."
He says during his time here, he has enjoyed the satisfaction that comes with being a professor — from developing new courses and discovering new ideas in research to seeing his students succeed.
Electrician, UNT Facilities
Ben Sheffield has spent his entire career working in different areas of UNT Facilities.
Over the past four decades, he has dedicated his time to helping students and staff on campus.
“I have worked with Ben for a little over two years,” says Roy Forester, the electrical supervisor in UNT Facilities. “He is good at his job repairing electrical systems and courteous to his customers. He helps out with any problems that arise, day or night.”
Sheffield says his biggest accomplishment while working at UNT is having the on-call assignment for Facilities and he's enjoyed working with his colleagues and fellow UNT employees.
“Ben has been on call with the university for years and he takes pride in the campus by going above and beyond to make sure things are working on weekends and after hours while the main staff is home,” says Forester. “He has a good relationship with the police department and together they keep our students and staff safe. It is a pleasure to work with him on a daily basis.”
Regents Professor of Tuba, College of Music
Donald Little joined the College of Music faculty in 1976 after teaching at the University of Northern Iowa for three years. Being from the southern New Jersey shore, Little thought about adjustments when it came to relocating to Texas.
“Two of my faculty brass colleagues at the University of Northern Iowa were graduates of North Texas (then NTSU), and they mentored and encouraged me to apply,” Little says. “When offered the position here, it was an easy decision to join the faculty.”
Along with being a professor, Little served as principal tuba for the Dallas Opera and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for 45 years. He has performed with numerous other orchestras across the United States and Germany.
For almost 50 years, he has held leadership positions with the International Tuba Euphonium Association, including serving as president and vice president.
In 2018, he was honored with the organization's Excellence in Teaching Award, which includes recognition of his mentoring of young musicians. His students have taught and performed around the world.