Welcome to UNT 101, a weekly series to prepare you to hit the ground running for your new life at UNT. We’ve interviewed Eagle Ambassadors (read: UNT aficionados) about everything from the best places to study to the best music venues in town. Let their answers be your guide to joining the Mean Green family.
Established in 1890, UNT has 127 years of history, trivia and general quirkiness to draw from, and few people know the ins and outs of UNT’s past and present better than the Eagle Ambassadors. Here are a few of their favorite tidbits:
Saved by the bell
The bell housed on the steps between the first and second floors of the University Union has gone by many names over the years, including the Curfew Bell, the Victory Bell and the Spirit Bell. Although it isn’t the original Curfew Bell that was brought to Denton from Michigan in 1891, the bell serves as a symbol of longstanding tradition at UNT.
The Mary Jo & V. Lane Rawlins Fine Arts Series, which brings visual, literary and performing arts events (such as the Luminarium series pictured below) to UNT and the greater Denton community, dates back to 1903 and will enter its 114th season in the 2017-18 academic year.
“Normal” certainly isn’t the first word that comes to mind when most alumni reflect on their time at UNT, but when the school was first established in 1890 it was named Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute. The school was renamed North Texas Normal College in 1894 and slightly altered to North Texas State Normal College in 1901. It went through three more name changes (sans Normal) before being named the University of North Texas in 1988.
A little too normal
And what would be the most appropriate mascot for a Normal College? Why, the Normalites, of course. Until a petition to choose a new mascot was started by students in 1921, the athletic teams were referred to as the Normal Boys and the Normal Girls.
The UNT Dragons?
Of course that petition resulted in an eagle being chosen as the new mascot, but other finalists included the Hawks, the Lions and the Dragons, which finished as the runner-up. Don’t worry, it wasn’t that close. Eagle won in a landslide with 17 times more votes than Dragon. #CAW
Boom goes the cannon
The Talons student group first started firing off a cannon at UNT football games in 1970 and “Boomer” has been a staple of Mean Green spirit ever since. Boomer is fired at kickoff, halftime and the final whistle of home football games, as well as every time the Mean Green scores.
A moment in time
The school’s first time capsule was created in 1962 to document our first year as a university and buried in front of the Administration Building. A second time capsule was buried alongside the first in 1988 to commemorate the university’s name change to the University of North Texas. Both time capsules were unearthed on University Day, 2015 as part of UNT’s 125th anniversary celebration. The tradition was carried on that year as a new time capsule was placed within the walls of the University Union, designated to be opened on University Day, 2040 to celebrate UNT’s 150th anniversary.
UNT has several famous alumni, including Grammy Award-winning singer and musician Don Henley. Unsubstantiated rumor has it, Henley wrote The Eagles’ hit song Hotel California in his Bruce Hall dorm room while he was attending UNT. Whether there’s any truth to the urban legend or not, it certainly adds some fun mythos to the residence hall.
Light it up
The green lights of McConnell Tower date back to the 1970s, after losing a football game to rivals SMU resulted in the doors of the Hurley Administration Building being painted red and blue. Rather than retaliate, the Talons had the green lights installed and they’ve been lit to signal Mean Green victories across all sports ever since.
Rings of tradition
UNT’s unique official class ring features a green stone on top, and the eagle mascot on either side with wings framing the university seal on one side and McConnell Tower on the other. The tower’s two clock faces also hold special meaning, with one displaying one o’clock as a tribute to UNT’s world-renowned One O’Clock Lab Band and the other showing seven o’clock as a nod to the school’s original student curfew time.