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Soccer complex named for retired professor G. Roland Vela

Vela Soccer ComplexDenton’s newest soccer fields at North Lakes Park have been named for G. Roland Vela, professor emeritus of biological sciences.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the G. Roland Vela Athletic Complex was held Aug. 10. The complex is located on Riney Road between Bonnie Brae Drive and North Elm Street, between the main UNT campus and UNT’s Discovery Park campus. It includes four new soccer fields.

Vela joined the faculty in 1965 after receiving his doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and became the first Latino professor at UNT to be awarded tenure. He was recognized nationally and internationally during his 35-year career at UNT for his research on bacterial physiology and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and published 75 scientific papers, a textbook an accompanying lab manual. Vela is a member of the American Academy of Microbiologists, which is limited to 1 percent of the member of the American Society of Microbiologists.

In 1991, UNT established an award in Vela’s name that is given to individuals and groups that make significant contributions to the education of Hispanics.

During his years at UNT, Vela became the first Latino elected to the Denton City Council and also served for more than 11 years as Denton’s representative on the Texas Municipal Power Agency board.

He retired in 2000, the same year that he was named one of the top 100 Texas Latinos of the 20th century in the millennium editor of Latino Monthly magazine. Vela’s scientific papers from 1962 to 1990 are now part of the UNT Archives.

- Nancy Kolsti, News Promotions

(Above, G. Roland Vela, in front row with black shirt, attended the opening of the G. Roland Vela Athletic Complex Aug. 10, along with 120 other people. Photo by Don Smith.)

Posted on: Mon 12 August 2013

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