UNT 101: UNT Trivia & History

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 128 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:

from inside the Sky Theater

Sky Theater

Located in the Environmental Sciences Building, UNT’s Sky Theater planetarium features breathtaking views shown on a 360° full dome theater. The planetarium also offers a variety of entertaining educational programs for local schools, the university and the public.

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Feelin' Lucky

Lucky the albino squirrel is a campus legend. It’s said that a sighting of lucky on the way to important exams will give the viewer good luck and help them make good grades. Lucky is so popular around campus that he has become a secondary mascot. One of the famous Albino squirrels around campus is on display in the environmental science building. The Lucky on display was tragically struck by a car in 2016. Although initially his body was going to be used for research, a decision was made to honor the miniature legend by having him professionally taxidermized.

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Lucky on a tree branch

Scrappy the Mascot

Eagle Evolution

The UNT mascot was decided in an election held in 1922. However, it wasn’t until 1950 that a South American golden eagle became the university’s first live mascot. The nameless eagle was presented for the first time at the North Texas vs. Oklahoma Tech football game. Later a contest was offered to name the new mascot, and Scrappy became the name of that first eagle. After that, UNT had five different live eagle mascots until 1969 when Larry Burrows became the first costumed mascot. However, after a new costume was developed in 1983, the name became Eppy, which lived well into the mid-nineties. In 1995 there was a vote held to decide the mascot’s name and Scrappy ultimately got the votes for a triumphant return, and the rest is history.

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Humble Beginnings

UNT wasn’t always the large university that we currently know and love. Rather, it was founded in a small, rented space above a hardware store in downtown Denton. The school was established with only 70 students under the name Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute.

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Old building in black and white

Jim Marshall

Elemental Expedition

Shortly after getting married in 1998, UNT chemistry professor Jim Marshall went on an adventure of a lifetime. Accompanied by his new bride, Jenny, they set out to find the birthplace of all 114 elements in the periodic table. They ultimately traveled through 28 different countries over 12 years to complete their journey and compiled a comprehensive interactive DVD of their research.

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