Great Conversations 2014

UNT Honors College Presents:  

Great Conversations 2014 - Tickets Are On Sale Now!

Great Conversations is a unique event benefiting the Honors College at the University of North Texas. This engaging program brings together individuals of accomplishment and skill to facilitate conversations on important, diverse and stimulating topics, ranging from the intellectual to the lighthearted. 

The event is scheduled for February 25, 2014 in the Apogee Stadium Clubroom at UNT (1251 S. Bonnie Brae Denton, TX 76207). Check-in for guests begins at 6:00pm. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Guests will be invited to begin conversations with the expert of their choice following a superb dinner. Tickets are $65.00.

Proceeds from the event will directly benefit Honors College students by supporting insightful and exciting programming, as well as scholarships for Honors College students.

Please join us for an evening of fascinating people, interesting ideas and Great Conversations!

IMPORTANT:  Real time ticket info available through the Buy tickets link.

Please bring your e-ticket to Great Conversations 2014!

  • Table 1 - Building Your Brand...Making Money On Your Name

    Chef Blythe Beck, Executive Chef and General Manager at MovieLounge in Arkansas, Alumna of UNT and Former Celebrity Chef of Oxygen's The Naughty Chef.

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  • Table 2 - The Reality of Reality TV - SOLD OUT

    Dr. Bon Blossman, Star of Style's Reality TV Show, Big Rich Texas, UNT Professor of Biology, and Author of the Fiona Frost YA murder mystery series.

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  • Table 3 - How Music Enhances Drama

    Although Rich DeRosa teaches jazz composition and arranging, a significant portion of his professional career has been devoted to creating music designed to underscore drama. Whether it’s music for film, video, theater, TV, audiobooks, or a singer delivering a lyric through song, DeRosa discusses the common aesthetics of the process so the most musically uneducated listener can appreciate to a greater degree how music works with their favorite movie, musical, or song.

    Richard DeRosa, Director of Jazz Composition/Arranging Studies, UNT Jazz Department

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  • Table 4 - Great Plants to Plant if You Love Birds and Butterflies: Making your yard a meeting place for hummingbirds, woodpeckers, monarchs, and other creatures we love

    Rebecca (Becca) Dickstein is an avid gardener, active in the Native Plant Society of Texas, and writes quarterly for area newspapers to encourage the use of native plants in local landscapes and gardens.  She holds the position of Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UNT and also does research on plant-microbe interactions. 



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  • Table 5 - How To Make your Urban Wildlife Urbane SOLD OUT

    Dr. Doug Elrod is chair of the Science department at NCTC -Denton County campuses.  He is a vertebrate zoologist who has studied a number of the urban species of Denton County including snakes, owls, raccoons, armadillos, bobcats, coyotes, deer, and many others. He looks forward to telling stories and answering questions about living peacefully with our urban critters.

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  • Table 6 - The Problem with Writing: Getting Readers to Care about their Stories

    GEORGE GETSCHOW, director and writer-in-residence of the nationally acclaimed Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, spent 16 years at The Wall Street Journal as a reporter, editor, bureau chief, and on the Page One Rewrite Desk. At the Journal, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for "distinguished writing" about the underprivileged. He covered Mexico for several years and directed the newspaper's coverage of the Southwest. Today, he is a principal lecturer and writing coach for the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at UNT, and a writing coach for a number of storytellers in the Southwest.

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  • Table 7 - Amazing Women of Texas

    M. Jean Greenlaw is Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of North Texas, where she  taught for 27 years. Dr. Greenlaw has been very active professionally, both as a writer and a speaker. Her numerous publications include the books Ranch Dressing: The Story of Western Wear and Welcome to the Stock Show. She has also been a docent at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth.

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  • Table 8 - What's up at the Kimbell Art Museum? Trends in Informal Learning

    For over 15 years, Connie Hatchette Barganier, Education Manager, has worked with fellow educators at the Kimbell Art Museum to design and present interactive learning experiences for all ages and all types of audiences. The recent opening of the Kimbell’s Piano Pavilion, with its beautiful light-filled classrooms, introduces the next chapter for expanded and diversified programs that will explore new ways to enhance how visitors connect with the art and each other.

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  • Table 9 - “Laissez les bons temps rouler”: The Influence of Carnival on the Life and Culture of South Louisiana - SOLD OUT

    With deep roots in South Louisiana supplemented by a stint as Executive Director for Development at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Dr. Jerry Holbert has rarely missed participating in various aspects of the Carnival Season. Over the years he has been a member of two Mardi Gras krewes…Krewe du Sucre in Franklin, Louisiana and Krewe of Spanish Town in Baton Rouge. Dr. Holbert enjoys sharing with others the joie de vie of this distinctly South Louisiana experience.


    Dr. Jerry Holbert, President/CEO of UNT Foundation, Inc.

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  • Table 10 - The End? -- Near-Death Experiences, Deathbed Visions, and After-Death Communication

    Dr. Jan Holden, Professor, Counseling Program Chair, Department of Counseling and Higher Education College of Education University of North Texas

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  • Table 11 - The Real Story about "Bernie." A Tale of Murder and Madness (and Hollywood) in East Texas - SOLD OUT

    In 1997, Texas Monthly writer Skip Hollandsworth came across a story in the tiny East Texas town of Carthage that seemed so unbelievable it felt like fiction: a young assistant funeral home director named Bernie Tiede had murdered the town's grande dame, shooting her in the back and burying her in her deep freeze, where she remained for 9 months before anyone started looking for her. And Bernie was arrested, the townspeople supported him, begging the District Attorney to let him go free. Hollandsworth will not only tell the story about Bernie, he will also talk about how his Texas Monthly article was, sometimes hilariously, turned into the 2010 movie "Bernie," starring Jack Black, Shirley MacClaine and Mathew McConaughey.

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  • Table 12 - The Art of Donna Howell-Sickles: Cowgirl Rising

    Donna Howell-Sickles' paintings of vibrant cowgirls have been eagerly sought by museums and collectors all over America. A native of Texas, Donna grew up on a ranch near the Red River in North Texas, a place that provided the first inspiration for the love of nature and animals reflected in her work.

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  • Table 13 - Reuniting Pangea : Invasive species in North Texas - Zebra mussel, mosquitoes, and viruses

    Dr. James Kennedy, Mosquito Wrangler Department of Biological Sciences University of North Texas, has monitored zebra mussels for the state of Texas. His lab is currently monitoring populations in the Elm Fork downstream of Ray Roberts.  His research team has monitored invasive mosquitoes including Aedes albopictes and WNV (invasive virus) for over 12 years in the region.

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  • Table 14 - Tim Madigan - Cancelled

    In 2006, Tim Madigan published his memoir, I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers. The book was critically acclaimed and sold well, and now is on the verge of another life. A movie based on the book is now in the advanced planning stages, with the directors Little Miss Sunshine attached and some of the biggest names in Hollywood rumored to be interested in the leading roles.

    How closely did the script resemble the book? Who will play Mister Rogers? Who will play Tim? What is the process? The exciting last year for Tim provides an interesting inside look at the workings of the movie business.

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  • Table 15 - After the Arab Spring: Democracy, Dictators, or War? - SOLD OUT

    David Mason is Director of the Castleberry Peace Institute and holder of the Johnie Christian Family Peace Professorship. He is the author of Caught in the Crossfire: Revolution, Repression and the Rational Peasant.

    Dr. David Mason, Regents Professor of Political Science at UNT

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  • Table 16 - Changing the Football Culture at UNT - SOLD OUT

    The Mean Green became bowl champions on New Year’s Day with a 36-14 win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. "To get to the top of the mountain and be a bowl champion, like these guys are, I can’t put into words how happy I am for them,” McCarney said. “We’ll cherish this season forever.”

    Dan McCarney, Head Football Coach, North Texas Athletics

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  • Table 17 - COWGIRL UP: Spirited conversation about all things western from Cowgirl Hall of Famer Pam Minick



    Pam Minick knows what it's like to Cowgirl Up!  A former Miss Rodeo America and Women's World Champion Roper, Pam is as comfortable on a horse as she is in front of a camera.  Hosting over 1000 nationally televised specials, she has had the opportunity to work with George Strait, Bo Derek, Tim McGraw, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire,  Walt Garrison, Reggie Jackson and more.   Minick has also appeared in movies, including "The Sacketts" with Tom Selleck, and "Rodeo Girl" with Katherine Ross.  She currently produces and hosts "Gentle Giants" and "The American Rancher" on RFD TV.  She is president of the Rodeo Historical Society, board member of the National Cowgirl Museum, Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the Fort Worth Stock Show.  Pam and her husband Billy Minick are partners in Billy Bob's Texas, the World's Largest Honky Tonk in the Fort Worth Stockyards.  They live on a small ranch in Argyle, Texas.   


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  • Table 18 - From Submarines To Quail Science – An Adventurous Evening With The UNT’s Quail Doctor - SOLD OUT

    Come hear Dr. Reyna’s tales of living onboard a U.S. Navy submarine, his epic hunting and fishing adventures, close calls with wildlife, and how he is now leading the largest conservation effort in the U.S. to save the bobwhite quail.

    Dr. Kelly Reyna, Executive Director of UNT Quail and Wildlife Physiologist in the Department of Biological Sciences. 

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  • Table 19 - How To Tell A Good Story: The Path to Loving History Education

    Peggy Riddle,Director of Denton County Office of History and Culture, has over thirty–five years of experience in the field of museum services and historic interpretation.  She is the former Historic Preservation Manager for the City of Grapevine former assistant director of the Legends of the Game Baseball Museum for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, former director of the Heritage Farmstead Museum in Plano, and former Director of Research and Public Programs for the Dallas Historical Society. Prior to joining Denton County, Peggy planned exhibits for the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department, the City of Lancaster Museum, the White Rock Lake Centennial Celebration, the Harrison County Historical Museum, the Gregg County Historical Museum, the Lancaster Historical Society and the Coppell Historical Society.

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  • Table 20 - Ask Him Anything: Local political discourse with a City Councilman

    Kevin Roden is serving his 2nd term as the District 1 representative on the Denton City Council. He lives in an historic home near downtown, has three kids, and wants to hear your thoughts on the great city of Denton.

    Kevin Roden, Assistant Director of Student Life, Texas Academy of Math and Science (TAMS) at UNT

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  • Table 21 - Words and Music: The Universality of Song

    Jeffrey Snider is a native of Buffalo, New York, and received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Texas in 1996 and in 1998 he returned to UNT as an Associate Professor of Vocal Studies in the College of Music. He has taught advanced courses in vocal literature for many years, and is widely known for his knowledge of the operatic and art song repertoire.

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  • Table 22 - Exploring British Coastlines – History, Mystery, and Trickery SOLD OUT

    Dr. Sandra Spencer, Faculty Member of English at UNT, has led six study abroad trips to Britain as well as visiting there numerous times.  London originally attracted her to the UK, but she has experienced many more wonderful, out-of-the way places there since that first trip.

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  • Table 23 - The Films of Woody Allen

    Don Staples is a former film maker, NYC film critic, film historian, Professor Emeritus of Film

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  • Table 24 - The Life and Music of Bob Dylan - SOLD OUT

    Tex Zimmerman (AKA Mike Steinel from the UNT Division of Jazz Studies) came to his interest in Bob Dylan late in life.  In 2009 Steinel formed a Bob Dylan tribute band (Tex Zimmerman and His All-Star Revue) to perform at a fund-raiser for Instruments of Change® (a musical charity).  Since that time he has studied the rock-star's development from his earliest "folk song" beginnings, through the decades, right to the present.  "In the last part 50 years there has been no more influential pop artist than Bob Dylan.  As an artist I find him endlessly fascinating and inspiring.  I look forward to lively discussion about his life, both musical and personal, and his role as a cultural 'icon'".

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  • Table 25 - Caught Between Two Worlds - Iran in the Modern Culture

    Dr. Abbas Tashakkori, Professor and Chair of Dept. of Educational Psychology

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  • Table 26 - Travel by train: One man’s journey across Europe 1984-2013

    Dr. Lee Theriot, Professor at UNT, has traveled in Europe every year since 1984. He has been to France, Italy and Switzerland, and from Portugal to Turkey, primarily by train.

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  • Table 27 - On the Track Of the Evidence

    Mike Weldon is a Board- Certified FDE with a particular interest in the development of impression evidence. He holds a patent on an optimization of the latent image process, using electrostatic lifting techniques, also performing an extensive amount of work in the enhancement of footwear impression evidence collection methods. He has been to the FBI Lab at Quantico, VA. to demonstrate the results of his research in paper chemistry, something he continues to sponsor at the University of North Texas. Other projects at UNT include Nano-collection of trace materials, employing in part, electrostatic techniques.

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  • Table 28 - Four Star Sommelier: A Tale of Food Pairings, Industry Gossip and a Rare Bottle or Two

    Ian Whitcomb got his start in the restaurant industry as soon as he was employable and hasn’t held a position outside of it since.  From pizza maker and grill man in chains to manager and sommelier for some of north Texas’ finest restaurants, Ian lives and breathes the culinary culture.  

    Ian is currently working at Louisiana Street Grill in downtown McKinney as well as leading a study group involving professionals from all sides of the culinary industry from wine portfolio representatives to up and coming sommeliers and winemakers. 

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  • Table 29 - Boosting Female Participation in Science in Engineering Careers - Building the Pathways to Success

    Mr. Stanley M. Woodward is a co-founder of Reflect Systems, Inc and serves as its Executive Vice President of Business Development. He served as Chief Technology Officer of GoKnow Mobile Learning and Chief Executive Officer of LTF (now the National Math and Science Initiative) from 2007-2011 where he learned, first-hand, the challenges inherent in the US K-12 public systems.  Mr. Woodward is a passionate supporter of gender equity initiatives and improving the odds of success for women and minorities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) fields.



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  • Table 30 - EntrepreBrewership - A Unique Approach to Starting a Craft Brewery From the Ground Up

    Bobby Mullins and Yianni Arestis are the founders of Denton-based craft brewery, Armadillo Ale Works. They are currently operating out of Deep Ellum Brewing Company's facility in Dallas, TX while they continue to raise funds to open their own facility in Denton.

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