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Campus construction greeted faculty in 1967

Jim Roberts, professor of physics, left, and Gus Seligmann, associate professor of history, marked 45 years of service to UNT in 2013.In 1967, when James Roberts, left, professor of physics, and Gus Seligmann, associate professor of history, began their first year at what was then North Texas State University, the campus was being transformed with new buildings.

Construction was underway for what is now the Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building, and the Language Building. They were two of 13 buildings proposed or under construction. The $1.8 million Biology Building had been completed for the 1967 fall semester. During the 1968 spring semester, construction began on a new library, later named for a regent, Willis Library.

At the end of the 1967-68 academic year, J.C. Matthews retired as president after 16 years and was succeeded by John J. Kamerick.

In Seligmann’s department, faculty were waiting for approval for a new doctoral program from regulators, now the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and were teaching new courses in Far Eastern history and urban history. In Roberts’ department, several faculty were recognized for receiving National Science Foundation and defense agency grants.   

On May 9, Seligmann and Roberts will be honored for 45 years of employment at the annual Service Recognition Awards Ceremony. The two are the longest serving employees recognized this year. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. in the University Union, Silver Eagle Suite.

  • Find a list of employees to be recognized for five to 45 years of service in the attachment below.

Seligmann has been involved in community activities, serving on committees related to bond elections, cable television and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival.

Roberts received teaching awards and grants for research, as well as for activities to support and improve the teaching of science and technology from grade school through college.

Both have mentored numerous graduate students.

Why did you accept a teaching position at NTSU in 1967?

Roberts: The university had begun offering a PhD in physics in 1964, and I saw an opportunity to be a part of the formative years of that program. This turned out to be the case. As my program developed and doctoral students began working in my group, other faculty began to see the value of advanced training for our students and the importance of UNT emerging from a provincial school - the best kept secret in the nation - into the national and international community of schools.

Seligmann: I had four job offers, and the offer from NTSU was the best one. The fishing at Texas A&I (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville) would have been better, though.

Did you plan to stay at the university?

Roberts: I didn’t know how long I would stay at UNT. I stayed because the university continued to provide research facilities and a reasonable adjustment in salary over the years. I have been able to produce a number of doctoral students who have established themselves in their careers during the years that I have been at UNT.

Seligmann: I was teaching in Louisiana when I was hired. I intended to stay here three or four years and then get a job in New Mexico, my home state. But things don’t always work out the way you want them to be. After four years, the job market in New Mexico wasn’t good. And I had tenure here, and I liked my colleagues and the town of Denton.  Years later, my favorite professor (at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces) retired, and it didn’t seem time to take his place. I just like it here better.

What significant events stand out during the years?

Roberts: One that stands out for me is the opening of the College of Engineering at the Texas Instruments facility (in 2003), due to the vision of Dr. Richard Rafes and others.

Seligmann: I think there’s been a general improvement of the university overall.

How have students changed over the years?

Roberts: Unfortunately, over the years, students at all levels of schooling are losing the value and meaning of a good education. Some are here for the grades only, and not for an education. This may be due to the fact that we have put emphasis on the assumption that everyone deserves an education.  The principle should be that everyone deserves an opportunity to become educated. If the opportunity is not taken advantage of, the students should not be rewarded with degrees. There are a number of excellent students in our programs, but there are also students who do not appreciate the value of an education and who have not had the preparation needed to be college students. They do not realize that the degree is only a hunting license that enables them to shop for a better job, but is no guarantee that they will succeed.

Seligmann: The students’ hairstyles and external appearances have changed, but I’m not sure that the students themselves are radically different. Our good students are as good as they were then, and our bad students are as bad as they were then.

Three faculty members will be recognized for 40 years of service: Gene Cho, professor of music, James Marshall, professor of chemistry and Lawrence Schneider, professor of psychology.

- Nancy Kolsti, News Promotions

(Photo by Jonathan Reynolds)

Service Awards_May 9_2013.pdf162.31 KB

Posted on: Thu 02 May 2013

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