The University of North Texas was founded by Joshua Chilton in 1890. Originally called Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute, the name was changed six times (once accidentally when the wording in the Texas law allowing the school to offer teaching certificates called it “North Texas Normal College”) until 1988, when the current title was adopted. At the school’s founding, teacher education and business classes were held above a hardware store in Denton, and by the next year the first official campus building was constructed, hosting a class of 185 students. Over the next century the school evolved, expanding its undergraduate academic offerings, adding graduate education, and implementing sports programs.
UNT’s 158 campus buildings span 800 acres of wide open spaces just off of I-35. Though it may seem huge, most of the academic buildings are clustered in the center of campus, so strolls between classes aren’t too long. After class, however, treks to residence halls and Greek housing can be lengthy. Most of the dorms line the south side of campus and Greek houses are clustered in the southeast corner. Students gather in the Student Union or the library in between classes, and on weeknights UNTers looking for an on-campus hangout head to Clark Grill near the residence halls for food and entertainment.
Denton is a dusty college town just north of the Texas hub of Dallas. The town is scattered with strip malls and wide fields, but it offers all the amenities a college kid could desire. Denton has become a major stop on indie music tours, dubbed by some “the next Austin.” There are always concerts going on around town featuring big name bands and local artists alike. Bars on Fry Street or in Downtown Denton are teeming with college students every night of the week and run nightly drink specials to ensure that poor students don’t go thirsty. Denton clubs offer another nightlife option and are usually busy from Thursday through Sunday, but for the best clubbing students head to Dallas.
UNT traditions do exist for those spirited students who choose to embrace them. Football homecoming is one of the biggest annual traditions, with a bonfire the night before and a parade the day of. An event called Yell Like Hell, where student groups perform skits and dances, is held before the bonfire. The winning group takes home the coveted Eagle Claw Award.
At football games, a Victory Cannon called Boomer fires off blanks after touchdowns, and the weapon is also blasted at campus-wide events.
Students show their support for UNT with the Eagle Claw hand sign. This gesture is performed by curling the thumb, middle, and index fingers forward with the two littlest fingers held against the palm. It’s supposed to represent the talon of the school’s mascot, Scrappy the Eagle.
Charlie Fern (1990) served as Laura Bush’s White House speechwriter.
“Mean” Joe Greene (1968) is an NFL Hall of Famer and assistant coach.
Don Henley (attended 1968, 1969) was a singer and songwriter for the Eagles. After the band’s breakup, the desperado pursued a moderately successful solo career.
Norah Jones (1999) is a solo jazz musician whose crooning voice and original songs have won her multiple Grammys.
Meat Loaf (1966) is a hard rocker known for his smash hit album, Bat out of Hell, as well as his notable acting roles in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club.
Tom “Bones” Malone is a jazz trombonist who was a member of the Blues Brothers and has played in house bands for The Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.
“Blue Lou” Marini is a saxophonist who was also a member of the Blues Brothers and the house band for Saturday Night Live.
Dr. Phil McGraw (1979) is the self-help know-it-all and television psychologist.
Larry McMurtry (1958) authored the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove, and the Academy Award-winning screenplay Brokeback Mountain.
UNT has an NCAA Division I sports program and is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Mean Green are a competitive force in football, having won several Sun Belt Conference Championships and made appearances in seven bowl games. The basketball team has recently stepped up its game under a new head coach. In 2007 they won their first ever Sun Belt Conference title and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988.
To get fans hyped, the school hosts a “Friday Night at Clark Park” pep rally the night before home and away football games. Although student attendance is rather low at the event and during games, local Dentonites can be very loyal fans of UNT athletics.
UNT had the first jazz studies program in the US.
The university’s emergency administration and disaster prevention program was the first of its kind in the US.
The campus was home to an albino squirrel that drew such a following that students petitioned to have the animal recognized as UNT’s secondary mascot. August ’06 saw the rodent’s untimely demise (a hungry hawk was the culprit), but a year later, a new white squirrel was spotted on campus.
There are 13 residence halls to house the 7,000 or so students who choose to live on campus. The traditional-style coed dorms are reserved for freshmen, have standard double rooms, and can be a bit dingy, but the newer apartment-style dorms that typically hold upperclassmen provide more privacy and chic amenities. Residence halls take on their own personalities, and labels like “music dorm,” “jock dorm,” or “artsy dorm” are not uncommon; accordingly, some students get a sense that residents tend to segregate themselves by residence hall. Applying early will increase your chances of getting the swankier (and hopefully air-conditioned) rooms.