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Denton philanthropist, arts patron to receive honorary doctorate from UNT

Philanthropist Paul Voertman, former owner of the city’s iconic Voertman’s Bookstore, will receive an Paul Voertmanhonorary doctorate from UNT. Voertman will be presented with the degree May 13 during the annual University-wide Commencement at Apogee Stadium, located at 1251 S. Bonnie Brae in Denton. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m.

“Paul’s devotion to the arts, to UNT and our spirit of creativity knows no bounds. Because of his generosity, our students are fulfilling their dreams of earning a college degree and becoming world-class performers and artists,” said UNT President Neal Smatresk. “He’s helped to nurture UNT’s artistic excellence, which is a core part of our legacy. As we celebrate our 125th anniversary, I’m so proud to thank and honor him for his impacts.”

The university was established as a teacher’s college and held its first classes Sept. 16, 1890, above a hardware store in downtown Denton. The Spring 2016 commencement ceremonies will be the finale of the year-long 125th anniversary celebration.

The university awards the honorary degree, formally known as a Doctor of Humane Letters, to individuals who, by their extraordinary achievements, add substantial knowledge to the community or better society as a whole.

Voertman is a proud patron of music and the arts at UNT whose ties to the university started in kindergarten. Voertman attended the university’s Demonstration School, the training laboratory for UNT students studying to be teachers, through high school. He went on to attend UNT through his sophomore year before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor of arts in economics in 1949. He served in the U.S. Army for two years in the 1950s.

Following his father’s death, Voertman took over the family bookstore and ran it until his retirement in 1990 when he sold it. Voertman’s Bookstore still bears the family’s name.

Because of his passion for the music and arts, Voertman has helped hundreds of UNT students to hone their musical and artistic talents through scholarships and through the opportunity to perform in a world-class concert hall that bears his name. In the 1960s, he launched the Voertman Student Art Competition, which continues today through UNT’s College of Visual Arts and Design and awards cash prizes to winners. Voertman supported the installation of the Richard Ardoin-Paul Voertman Concert Organ that put UNT’s organ program back in the national spotlight, and he is the namesake of the renovated Paul Voertman Concert Hall in the Music Building. 

Through the years, Voertman also has generously shared his time and passion with UNT, regularly attending campus music performances and art events and serving in numerous capacities. He currently serves on the College of Visual Arts and Design advisory board and is a member of the McConnell Society and the 1890 Society. He is a life member of the UNT Alumni Association.


Posted on: Mon 02 May 2016

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