Celebration of Life for Robert B. Toulouse

Join us Sept. 25 as we celebrate the life of Robert B. Toulouse and all he did to strengthen UNT. Toulouse served UNT nearly 40 years as professor, graduate school dean and provost. He is the namesake for the graduate school.


“A strong supporter of research, Bob sought and obtained funds to encourage and support faculty research.”

UNT would not enjoy its status as a Tier One research university had it not been for the visionary leadership of long-time graduate dean Bob Toulouse. In the 1960s when Governor John Connally provided the leadership and opportunity to expand higher education in Texas, Bob had a vision; he sought every graduate degree program for UNT that he could possibly justify and some that he probably couldn’t, knowing that this was important for the future of the institution. Sure enough, one of the major criteria for becoming a Tier One research institution is the variety of doctoral degrees offered and the number of doctoral degrees granted. A strong supporter of research, conceived in its very broadest sense, he also sought and obtained funds to encourage and support faculty research, envisioning this support as seed money to seek external research funds, another major criteria used in determining Tier One research institutions.

D. Jack Davis, Professor Emeritus of Art, served on faculty from 1971-2011, as vice provost and associate vice president for academic affairs 1983-93, and as founding dean of UNT’s College of Visual Arts and Design from 1993-2004


“Bob was not only accomplished, but he was gracious and friendly.”

Bob Toulouse’s vision to request new programs from the state and encourage faculty to develop and build them, provided the foundation for UNT’s current graduate school. Under his leadership, UNT’s graduate school grew from about 300 graduate students in two doctoral programs and a handful of master’s programs, to more than 5,500 graduate students in more than 100 graduate programs. Bob was not only accomplished, but he was gracious and friendly. His kindness was evident to me in each meeting we had throughout the years.

Victor Prybutok, vice provost for graduate education and dean of UNT’s Toulouse Graduate School


“I learned much about higher education administration from him.”

Over the years, many of my UNT colleagues have shared their stories of Bob Toulouse. A common thread was usually that they would go see him with an idea while asking for money to move it forward. Rather than say no because there was no money, Bob usually would say that is a great idea and offer ways to fine-tune and improve it. He would then add, “Let’s find the money to make your proposal possible.” That was such a refreshing approach for those seeking help at UNT. And it speaks volumes about what kind of person and administrator he was. I learned much about higher education administration from him and I feel very fortunate to have had him as my mentor.

Richard Simms began his professional career at UNT in 1970 and continued for 36 years as a professor, administrator and major grant director. Bob Toulouse was his mentor and friend for almost 40 years.


“He was fair and deliberate, and had a vision of what UNT could become.”

Bob Toulouse was kind, generous and supportive of the faculty and staff at UNT. He was proud of his accomplishments, but never bragged about how his efforts literally created the structure of graduate education at UNT. In his role as provost, he was thoughtful and gave those who worked for him a lot of responsibility and expected them to act with integrity and a passionate sense of purpose. Above all, he was fair and deliberate, and had a vision of what UNT could become. He did his best to develop programs and opportunities that would move UNT in the right direction. Few individuals have done more for their university. He’s left a lasting imprint on UNT.

Peter Witt served as in various adminstrative roles including associate vice president for research and associate dean of UNT’s Toulouse Graduate School from 1983-93