Great Conversations

UNT Honors College Presents:

Great Conversations 2019

People having a discussion around table
Assortment of books on a table
People gathering for a photo
Several women having a discussion
People looking at something on a smartphone
People having a discussion around table

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 Tuesday, February 26, 2019, in the Emerald Eagle Ballroom in the Student Union at UNT (1155 Union Circle, Denton, TX 76203) from 6:00-9:00pm. Check-in, silent auction, and a social hour for guests begins at 6:00 p.m. At 7:00 p.m, guests will be invited to begin conversations with the expert of their choice while enjoying a superb dinner. Tickets are $75.00.

Proceeds from the event will directly benefit Honors College students by supporting scholarship funds.

The event will also include a silent auction fundraiser. The packages will be announced two weeks prior to the event.

Bidding will take place during the social hour from 6-7 p.m., but will be suspended when dinner is served. Final bidding will be open for 25 minutes when dessert is served.

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

Parking:

  • UNT Parking Permit Holders: Please follow Transportation Services parking rules and regulations in regards to your designated pass.
  • Non-UNT Parking Permits: Hourly public parking is available at the Highland Street Garage. The garage is located at the corner of Central Ave and W. Highland Street with easy access to the Union via the W. Highland Street entrance.

Contact Information:
Diana Dunklau – diana.dunklau@unt.edu or 940-565-2474

To purchase tickets at all tables please visit untuniontickets.comPlease bring your e-ticket to Great Conversations 2019!

Sponsored by

Conversation Leaders at-a-glance

Table 1

Dave Barnett: Voice of the Mean Green

Dave Barnett

Photo of Dave Barnett in press box at Apogee Stadium

Dave Barnett, a two-time Emmy-award winner, took over the play-calling duties for Mean Green football and men's basketball following the retirement of George Dunham in spring 2015. A native of Denton, a graduate of Denton High and a 1979 graduate of North Texas, Barnett is one of the most renowned broadcasters to emerge from Bill Mercer's sportscasting program. Before his senior year at North Texas, Barnett landed a job at KRLD in Dallas, and, at just 23 years of age, became the play-by-play man for Dallas Mavericks. Barnett called NBA games for 16 years, seven for Dallas and nine with the San Antonio Spurs. He also called Southwest Conference college football and basketball games, then went to work for ESPN for 13 years before becoming the play-by-play man for the Texas Rangers in 2009. Barnett has worked Big 12 college basketball and baseball for Fox Sports. In addition to his North Texas duties, Barnett continues doing national broadcasts for the Westwood One radio network. 

Table 2

The Least Dangerous Branch

Dr. Bethany Blackstone

Photo of Dr. Bethany Blackstone with a green backdrop

In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton famously described the judiciary as “the least dangerous branch” because it has “neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm for the efficacy of its judgments.” Hamilton might be surprised to see that the contemporary American judiciary is a truly co-equal branch of the United States federal government. Join Dr. Bethany Blackstone for a discussion about the role of the judiciary in shaping American public policy. The impact of courts (generally) and the Supreme Court (specifically) varies over time and by issue area. We’ll discuss the historical changes that have allowed the courts to sometimes play a central role in shaping policy, highlight the conditions under which Supreme Court decisions have been more and less influential, and discuss recent developments related to the Supreme Court, including major decisions and the anticipated impact of recent membership changes on the Court.

Dr. Blackstone is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. Her research and teaching focus on the United States Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, constitutional law, and interbranch relations.

Table 3

Gun Culture, Myth, and American Consequences

Dr. Kevin Caffrey

Dylan West

The issue of guns—their status in society, the laws applying to them, their use—is a hot topic.  Even in Texas.  There are those who argue about constitutional gun rights right up to the point of almost pointing one at those with whom they disagree.  Others argue for their practical need in the face of growing crime or oppression.  Still others argue that there is an affinity between Americans and guns that amounts to a “gun culture” which makes regulating them unlikely or impossible.  Some against unregulated gun ownership see it as a simple matter of regulation similar to that for any other dangerous tool.  Others see guns as an “evil” and express their barely concealed outrage in rhetorically powerful arguments about the safety of children.  As with any other big topic that animates large portions of our society, all of these understandings are either at least partial misunderstandings, or mythologically based…or both.  Even in Texas.

Wanting to examine the notion of a “gun culture,” I will be leading a discussion about 1) gun culture; 2) mythology; and 3) how many Americans …culturally speaking, at least…often obscure the fact that we like guns behind a barrage of mythological verbiage defending them because we are not prepared to clearly accept the reasons and consequences for why we like guns.  Clearly, guns are meaningful to us, and therefore cultural in the best sense of the term.  So, since we as a society must admit that we like them and some of us do not really want to “lose” them, let us have a discussion about what guns mean to us…and what the consequences of keeping them around as freely as we have actually are. 

Note of Decorum:  Those actively carrying a concealed firearm at the table will kindly keep it concealed…unless it is a particularly cool example, in which case you can show it to me after the event.  Still shouldn’t bring it up at the table, though.

Table 4

If the tale is fictional, can you discuss more deeply the uncomfortable truths of medical and ethical challenges?

Carol Cassella

Photo of Dr. Andrew Torget with a grey background

If a doctor’s mission is to translate medical facts for patients, why do some spend time writing fiction? Or, why would an aspiring novelist become an anesthesiologist? For doctor and writer Carol Cassella the answer lies in the adage that there is often more truth in fiction than in life. From her viewpoint, uncomfortable truths can feel safer when considered through the inner emotions of invented lives. Join our conversation as we discuss the medical and ethical challenges in healthcare along with the pleasures of a good book.

Carol Cassella is a practicing physician and the national bestselling author of three novels, Gemini (2014), Healer (2010), Oxygen (2008), each published by Simon & Schuster and translated into multiple foreign languages. All three novels were Indie Next Picks. Her books have been finalists for the Washington State Book Award, and highlighted as top choices by Library Journal, Booklist, Harpers Bazaar, People Magazine, Poets & Writers, Women’s Day, and USA Today, among others. Through her fiction, she explores lives touched by addiction, malpractice, immigration, and tragedy.

Carol majored in English Literature at Duke University and attended Baylor College of Medicine. She is board certified in both internal medicine and anesthesiology, and practiced primary care with a focus on cross cultural and underserved populations before becoming an anesthesiologist. Prior to writing fiction, Carol wrote for the Global Health division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation covering their grant projects throughout the developing world. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Huffington Post, among other web and print sites. She was founder and editor of Mind to Mind, the literary section in The Journal of The American Association of Anesthesiology, and a founding member of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit supporting literacy and reading in the Pacific Northwest. Pursuing her interest in global health in low resource countries, she has served on medical organizations working in Thailand, Nicaragua, Bhutan, Cuba, and Mexico. Carol lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband and two sets of twins, whom she counts as her grandest works of art. She is currently working on her fourth novel.

Table 5

UNT College of Health and Public Service: New Name, New Dean, New Ideas

Dr. Neale Chumbler

Dylan West

The UNT College of Health and Public Service is in a time of transition. The college has had many names, with the most recent being revealed just a year ago. There’s a new dean, new faculty, new chairs and now, a new focus on public health. What do all of these adjustments mean for the college? How will all of this change impact the future of the programs being offered? What is being done to unite the departments and build the college’s brand? Join new dean Dr. Neale Chumbler for an enlightening look at the transformation he envisions and how he plans to use the talents of the entire college – faculty, staff, students and stakeholders – to shape the future of HPS.

Dr. Neale Chumbler was named Dean of the College of Health and Public Service (HPS) at the University of North Texas in January of 2018 and also serves as a professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services. Dr. Chumbler is an internationally recognized scholar who brings nearly three decades of experience in academia as a dean, department chair, graduate program coordinator and research center director to UNT. As Dean, he is committed to advancing HPS’ national and international profile while strengthening excellence in research and teaching and ensuring the success of the college’s students.   

Prior to arriving at UNT, Dr. Chumbler was dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Western Kentucky University, the institution’s largest academic college with more than 4,800 students, from 2015 to 2018. While at Western Kentucky University, he was committed to strategic planning, developing and implementing an effective strategic plan that guided innovative initiatives. Dr. Chumbler was dedicated to enhancing both the colleges’ research and external relations profile. He built a robust, extramurally funded research environment (the amount of research expenditures increased by 190%) and record levels of fundraising (the amount of new gift commitments increased by 73% and amount of new gift receipts increased by 30%). He further added 11 new academic and certificate programs.  

Prior to his time at Western Kentucky University, Dr. Chumbler served as the department head, graduate program coordinator, and professor of health policy and management in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia. He led the department in double digit increases in both research expenditures and credit hours taught and co-developed two interdisciplinary new academic programs with two different academic colleges. He also served various administrative positions including department chair, research center director and postdoctoral research fellowship director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) from 2008 to 2012.

He is a recognized expert in the field of health services research. His research centers on the implementation and evaluation of applying health information technology (information technology applied to health care) and telehealth (remote delivery of health services) technologies to improve access to and quality of care and rehabilitation outcomes for community dwelling older individuals with central nervous system damage. He has received more than $30 million in extramural funding. This research has been funded by more than 50 sources, including National Science Foundation, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health. His research has led to more than 130 articles in a wide range of peer reviewed scientific journals and book chapters in highly respected publications.

Dr. Chumbler completed his doctoral studies in sociology at Case Western Reserve University in 1994 and completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship in health services research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the US Department of Veterans Affairs in 1996.  

 

Table 6

ACEs high – how the most important public health study you’ve never heard of could prevent crimes and reform the juvenile justice system

Dr. Jessica Craig

Photo of Dr. Jessica Craig in front of a green backdrop

The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study – or ACE Study – has shown that the higher someone’s ACE score, the higher their risk of chronic disease and mental illness, potential for committing a crime or violence and several other high-risk consequences. To take it a step further, research has shown that the more types of childhood adversity a juvenile experiences, the more likely they are to commit violence, crimes or re-offend. But, new research shows that building resilience and arming survivors with the tools to heal their traumas can prevent them from committing crimes in the first place. Dr. Jessica Craig, UNT assistant professor of criminal justice, explains how the score, which affects us all (most people – 64 percent – have at least one ACE; 12 percent of the population has an ACE score of 4) can be used to create trauma-informed and resilience-building practices to prevent crimes and reform the juvenile justice system.

Jessica Craig, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of North Texas. Much of her past research has focused on developmental/life course criminology as she is interested in the effects of a variety of factors on offending across the life course. One recent area has focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), a set of 10 negative events such as child abuse/neglect, and its impact on offending. She is particularly interested in identifying protective factors that may buffer the harmful effects of these childhood adversities on later crime. Dr. Craig is also interested in juvenile justice sentencing and corrections and has recently started exploring the overlap between ACEs, juvenile sentencing types, and recidivism outcomes among a sample of Texas adjudicated delinquents.  

Table 7

You want to sing in public…but do you have a music arrangement?

Rich DeRosa

Photo of Dr. Andrew Torget with a grey background

Most singers lack the fame and resources of a Michael Bublé or a Lady Gaga. But there are quite a few who perform publicly at a local level in clubs, casinos, cruise ships, and concert venues. Usually, these singers must have music arrangements. Each singer’s voice is unique so each song needs to be set in a specific key. Sometimes a medley of songs is desired. Other times the singer needs a special arrangement for a required instrumentation. Many singers have a naturally good voice but have no formal training in music. Without it, they need a musical director - usually a pianist/arranger who can effectively coach and guide the singer.

Professor DeRosa teaches composition and arranging in the jazz program at UNT. He has written arrangements for many well-known singers along with amateurs. He will be happy to discuss strategies and offer advice in the following areas: how to find a pianist/vocal coach; how to choose music and determine the key that’s right for you; how to discuss your needs with a music arranger; what to expect with regard to budget for live performance or studio recording; answers to your questions.

Richard DeRosa received a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition in 2015 for his big band composition “Neil” which is dedicated to Neil Slater, the director of the One O’Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas from 1981-2008.

In October, 2018, Mr. DeRosa was the featured conductor and arranger for the concert productions of Joey Alexander with Strings which premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

His work with the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, from 2012 to 2016 included several projects for the following vocalists: Kurt Elling, Patti Austin, the New York Voices, Ola Onabulé, Ute Lemper, and the WDR’s Rundfunk Choir.

Since 2001 Mr. DeRosa has arranged and conducted music for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He has been commissioned to write arrangements for the following vocalists: Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Renée Fleming, Audra MacDonald, Denyce Graves, Annie Ross, Patti Lupone, Christine Ebersole, Bernadette Peters, John Legend, John Mayer, Joe Cocker, Lyle Lovett, Cassandra Wilson, and Roberta Gambarini. He was a prime arranger for a theater project (A Bed and a Chair) featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim and also provided an arrangement of Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea for the swing jazz Broadway show After Midnight.  

In 2015 he collaborated with Garry Dial and Dick Oatts on a double CD project That Music Always Round Me which features original music set to fifteen poems by Walt Whitman; DeRosa created arrangements for the choir to be featured with a jazz chamber group that included Dial on piano, Oatts on saxophones and flute, and guest trumpeter Terell Stafford.

In 2011 Mr. DeRosa collaborated with Deborah Anderson and released a CD recording of original music set to poems by Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Browning, and others. The title is Sonnet Love Songs.

During the 1990s, Mr. DeRosa wrote numerous arrangements for vocalist Susannah McCorkle that were released on multiple CD recordings for Concord Records.

All of the aforementioned CD recordings are readily available on I-Tunes or Amazon.

Mr. DeRosa is a full professor at the University of North Texas where he is the director of jazz composition and arranging. His former teaching positions were at William Paterson University, Manhattan School of Music, and The Juilliard School where he taught advanced jazz arranging for studio orchestra. He is the author of Concepts for Improvisation: A Comprehensive Guide for Performing and Teaching (Hal Leonard Publications) and Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer (Focal Press) co-authored with Dr. Andrea Pejrolo. The latter book has experienced worldwide success having been translated into Chinese in a subsequent edition. An expanded 2nd edition that includes vocal arranging was published in November of 2016.

www.richderosa.com

Table 8

Mediating Misogyny

Dr. Tracy Everbach

Photo of Dr. Andrew Torget with a grey background

The #MeToo movement has drawn particular attention over the past year and a half to the topic of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace and other institutions. Dr. Tracy Everbach of the Mayborn School of Journalism is the co-author, with UNT Associate Professor of Media Arts Jacqueline Vickery, of the 2018 book Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology and Harassment. The book examines the way misogyny is spread through social media, news media, gaming, advertising, entertainment, and other media industries. It also offers solutions to combat sexism and misogyny. Dr. Everbach also will discuss UNT’s efforts to fight harassment, including a pamphlet developed in the past year for student interns entering the workplace.

Tracy Everbach, Ph.D., is a professor of journalism in the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. Her research focuses on women’s work and leadership in journalism, and on representations of race and gender in media. She teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on race, gender and media, news reporting, mass communication theories, and qualitative research methods. She is co-author of the book Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology and Harassment. She has been published in numerous scholarly and professional publications. She is a former newspaper reporter, including 12 years reporting on the city news desk at The Dallas Morning News.

Table 9

Wine and Food: A Beautiful Relationship

George Ferrie

George Ferrie, owner of Wine Squared

We all love Food, and we SHOULD all Love Wine. Join me as we taste wines from around the world, talk about expanding our palates, and learn about interesting food pairings.

George Ferrie is a 13-year Denton resident and small business owner of Wine Squared. He studied Dance Performance at UNT, and loves all things Wine. He currently serves on the Parks and Recreation Board, Friends with Benefits Board, Denton Mainstreet Association Board, and OUTreach Denton Steering Committee. 

Table 10

Find Your Voice: A career in narrating books

Gary Furlong

Black and white photo of Gary Furlong

Gary was born in Co. Wexford, Ireland.  He began his love affair with acting from a very young age but, like many, never really thought it could be a sustainable career.  And so from his early teens to late 20's, acting and performing became a fun hobby.  In University he studied "Languages for International communication with a minor in Japanese language".  However it was clear that the University Drama Society took up almost the entirety of his college life.  He took part in over six productions in his freshmen year...His grades were only ok.  During his time in University he spent a year abroad in Tokyo.

This lead to five years in Japan teaching English upon graduation.  It was here that he discovered audiobooks.  They became a way to relax, to consume books while going about everyday life.  The more he listened the more it became clear that being a voice actor could be a great fit for him.  He contacted some of his favorite narrators who put him in touch with a coach.  That was the summer of 2014.  It is now 2018 and he is an award winning audiobook narrator and works with many of the top publishers in the industry.

Join Gary to talk about
•    Working for yourself: From the desk to full time voice actor
•    Working in the entertainment industry today.  
•    How to get started in voice over
•    Maintaining relationships in the industry
•    Share your ideas and experiences

Table 11

Activism & Elections: Perspectives of an Openly Gay Candidate & Spouse

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes

Dr. Binod Shrestha standing in front of a lake and the countrside

Running for office is no easy task!  It is even more difficult when one is openly-gay, something Mark Phariss experienced when he recently ran for Texas State Senate, District 8, thankfully with the full support of his spouse, Vic Holmes.  Mark Phariss’ opponent was Angela Paxton, wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.  Mark Phariss narrowly lost the race, although he won the cities of Plano by 2%, Richardson by 6% and Dallas by 20%.  Mark Phariss was the first openly-gay candidate nominated in a contested primary for Texas Senate, and if he had won he would have been the first openly-gay Texas State Senator.

Mark Phariss and his spouse, Vic Holmes, were two of the same-sex plaintiffs who successfully sued the state of Texas for the right to marry.  They have appeared on the cover of USA Today twice, their marriage was written about in the New York Times, and the Texas Monthly included an article, “The Accidental Activists, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss,” about their revolutionary fight to marry in 2014.  A book by David Collin with virtually the same title, “Accidental Activists: Mark Phariss, Vic Holmes, and Their Fight for Marriage Equality in Texas,” was subsequently published by the North Texas University Press in July 2017.

Vic and Mark have been together over 21 years and married for three. The struggles they faced as members of the gay community and during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (while Vic was serving in the military) inspired them to become two of the four plaintiffs in the 2013 Same-Sex Marriage Equality suit, “DeLeon v. Perry” against the state of Texas.  Those same struggles, in part, motivated Mark Phariss to run for state office and Vic Holmes to support that run.

Mark Phariss has been a business attorney for the past 33 years after graduating from Vanderbilt Law School. He has worked in multiple business law practice settings. He has also been a civil rights advocate for the past 20 years, lobbying for the Equality Act and nondiscrimination ordinances in San Antonio and Plano, Texas, contributing to the campaigns of many pro-equality advocates and allies, and serving on the boards of numerous equality organizations. In addition, he has served on the boards of The Family Place (a refuge for victims of domestic violence), TeamSA Endowment, San Antonio Sports, and others. Mark is a sports fanatic, proud Eagle Scout (Order of the Arrow recipient), and Son of the American Revolution.

Vic Holmes is an Assistant Professor currently teaching medicine at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth. His clinical work includes providing home-based medical care for the mentally and physically challenged. He graduated from the Interservice Physician Assistant Program in 2000 and retired honorably from the Air Force after 22+ years of service. Vic Holmes is currently working on his PhD in Education, with a specialty in online education. 

Vic and his husband, Mark Phariss, support a variety of equality and education groups including the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, and Ed-U-Care Dallas Inc. He is also the Faculty Advisor for the LGBT & Allies Student Group on the UNTHSC Campus spends his free time animating squeaky toys for their adorable beagles.

Table 12

Mysteries and Legends of Denton County

Kelsey Jistel

Photo of Kelsey Jistel sitting on a green couch

Does a goatman haunt Old Alton Bridge? Did Sam Bass hide his treasure in a cave at Pilot Knob? What happened to TWU student Virginia Carpenter? Where did Bonnie and Clyde hang out in Denton County? Did the French find utopia in Justin?

Spend the evening learning about some of Denton County’s most infamous residents and other mysteries that will leave you scratching your head.  Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

Kelsey Jistel is the Curator of Educational Programs for the Denton County Office of History and Culture, which operates the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum and the Denton County Historical Park.  Kelsey plans and facilitates many of the Office of History and Culture's various educational programs, events, and projects, including PARK AFTER DARK and Denton County Junior Historians.

Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Kelsey traveled to the Midwest for college and earned her BA in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2012 and MA in Museum Studies from the University of Kansas in 2014. After graduating, she found her way back to Texas and settled in Denton in 2015. Kelsey has always had a love for museums and a passion for working with people. In her spare time, she enjoys eating street tacos, watching period dramas, and collecting camel figurines.

Table 13

Mary Surrat, the first woman executed by the U.S. government

Dr. Brent Jones

Black and white photo of Mary Surratt

Was she guilty?  In January 1865, just six months before her execution as John Wilkes Booth’s accomplice, Widow Mary Surratt could not have imagined her fate, and neither could anyone else.  Her reputation was that of an unusually devout Christian who would never have contemplated, let alone condoned, murder.  The public knew Mary Surratt as a kind Maryland tavern keeper who served both Union and Confederate soldiers impartially. However, crushing debt forced her to move to Washington and within weeks, meet famous actor John Wilkes Booth.  Found guilty as an accomplice, she was hanged with three other conspirators just three months after Lincoln’s assassination. 

Brent M. Jones, Ph.D. is an assistant dean for TAMS and the Honors College.  His longstanding fascination with Mary Surratt began as a child after discovering that the Booth conspirators were all young men – except for 43-year old Mary Surratt, a seemingly unlikely conspirator.  Then as now, men are far more likely to commit violent crimes, while female criminals are more likely involved with property crimes, larceny, or fraud.  So does the evidence support Mary’s hanging, or was the government’s condemnation misplaced?

Table 14

We have seen it in the movies, now let’s see if it’s true (Movie and TV induced tourism)

Dr. Bharath Josiam

Photo of Dr. Andrew Torget with a grey background

Dr. Josiam has completed research and presentations on the impact of Hollywood movies, Bollywood movies, Chinese Movies and Movies and TV shows in Saudi Arabia and how they impact destination image and activities at the destination.

Dr. Bharath M. Josiam is currently a tenured Professor of Hospitality & Tourism Manager in the College of Merchandising and Hospitality Management at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA. He has been a faculty member at leading Hospitality Management programs in the USA for over 25 years.  

A US citizen, Bharath is originally a native of India. He received his 3-year Diploma in Hotel/Restaurant Management from the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering & Nutrition, New Delhi, India and his Bachelors Degree in Commerce from Delhi University, India.

He has worked in hospitality operations in India for seven years in both Food & Beverage and Lodging Management.  His career there included assignments in mid-scale properties, super-luxury properties and special events management.

Bharath obtained his Master of Science Degree in Hotel, Restaurant & Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA and his Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Business and Marketing Education from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

His primary research interests are in consumer behavior of tourists and youth tourism. He has co-authored over 150 journal articles, book chapters and conference papers. He serves on the editorial board of various journals. He also serves on the paper review committee for professional organizations in the hospitality and tourism fields.

Table 15

Fighting the bite, Mosquito Wrangling in North Central Texas

Dr. James Kennedy

Photo of Dr. James Kennedy in front of a stream

In early August 2002, Dr. James Kennedy’s lab collected the first mosquito populations that tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in north central Texas. Since that time he has monitored mosquito populations and mosquito borne diseases annually in the City of Denton, in partnership with the City of Denton and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The conversation at this table will focus on mosquito ecology, their populations and WNV and the recent concerns about the potential occurrence of ZIKA, Chikungunya and Dengue in the Dallas Fort Worth Area.

Dr. James H. Kennedy, is a Regents Professor of biological sciences and the Executive Director of the Elm Fork Education Center and Natural Heritage Museum. In addition, he is an associate director of the University of North Texas Sub-Antarctic Biocultural and Conservation program and has served as a visiting professor for the last eight years in the graduate program at the University of Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile. As well, Dr. Kennedy was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Magallanes in 2009.

Dr. Kennedy’s research program focuses on five areas: stream ecology, aquatic insect biology, biodiversity studies, the use of macroinvertebrates in the ecological risk assessment process and environmental education. Professor Kennedy has authored or coauthored over 100 publications covering various aspects of aquatic ecology, and ecotoxicology, including laboratory and field toxicity testing procedures, and simulated field studies. He is recognized internationally for his work in the use of surrogate aquatic ecosystems in the ecological risk assessment process. Much of his current research is focused in the Sub-Antarctic region of South America where he is developing long term monitoring programs using benthic macroinvertebrates to monitor biologically significant changes in rivers and streams that may be associated with global climate change. The goal of most of the laboratories projects is to develop information to aid in management decisions and conservation of freshwater ecosystems.

Table 16

No matter where they hide, we can find them: Machines that sniff out drug labs and the evolving legal conundrum

Dr. Kimi King and Dr. Guido Verbeck

Photo of Dr. Kimi KingPhoto of Dr. Guido Verbeck with a green backdrop

With over 9,000 clandestine lab incidents occurring annually, domestic drug manufacturing is on the rise with increasing numbers of labs registered across the country. Since the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, narcotics trafficking has continually evolved as covert manufacturing operations and chemical syntheses have been redesigned to avoid detection and prosecution. The need for portable instrumentation is then paramount, for tracking down these labs.  Technical and legal issues, however,  associated with portable instrumentation to identify clandestine labs directly involve the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment on search and seizure. The legal standard for evaluating the application of the Fourth Amendment requires that a person exhibit an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy that society accepts as (objectively) reasonable.   Depending on how the mass spectrometer is deployed in the field, the information it obtains may be used in warrantless searches based on established Fourth Amendment exceptions.  So we stand here at the border of Civil Responsibility and Civil Liberty.  Come join us for an epic discussion on this issue.

Dr. Kimi Lynn King is a Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas (UNT) where she has taught American Government and Constitutional Law for the last 25 years.  Along with her partner Dr. James Meernik, she has led study abroad programs to the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) (since 2003). They won the 2007 American Political Science Association / Rowman & Littlefield Award for most Innovative course, and their program was among the first in the world to take both undergraduate and graduate students to study abroad at the ICTY.  In cooperation with the ICTY Victims and Witnesses Section, they completed the most in-depth comprehensive survey to date about the short- and long-term impact of testifying on witnesses before the Tribunal.  These results were presented across the Former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, & Serbia), as well as at the ICTY in The Hague in June 2016, and both Meernik and King have co-authored two books to date Judging Justice (Univ. of Michigan Press 2019) and The Witness Experience (Cambridge Univ. Press 2017) about the survey.

Dr. King’s research interests address the role of law in conflict resolution, and she has published on a wide range of topics including human and civil rights, international law, U.S. Supreme Court decision-making and foreign policy, gender studies, and sexual violence.  She is a regular political news correspondent for local and national media outlets, develops pedagogical content for university publishers, and serves as a founding member of the American Moot Court Association (a national undergraduate law and policy advocacy organization) and the Women’s Faculty Network (a mentoring and professional organization for UNT women).

Her proudest collaboration with Dr. Meernik is their 15-year-old daughter Marlene who reminds them both daily why it is important to leave the world a better place than you found it.  

Dr. Guido F. Verbeck, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Interim Associate Dean of Research for the College of Science, is an expert in mass spectrometry, specifically instrument design and development.  Dr. Verbeck received his Ph.D. as a Proctor & Gamble fellow in chemistry at Texas A&M University. Dr. Verbeck has developed mass spectrometers over the past 18 years and has been a member of the analytical community for 23 years. Dr. Verbeck has 2 appointments in industry.  The first was at ANGUS Chemical Company, in Sterlington, LA, where he was a Quality Control Chemist for 2 years.  The second appointment was with Zyvex, where he designed novel MEMS microfabricated devices for ion manipulation, mass spectrometry, and detection.  It was this work that lead to the development of field portable mass spectrometry and instrument ruggedization.

Dr. Verbeck’s appointment is at the University of North Texas where he continues to design novel ion optical devices for miniaturization, preparative, and analytical mass spectrometry, and is the Director for the Laboratory of Imaging Mass Spectrometry.  In this appointment Dr. Verbeck has received $2.5M in external funding, 65 peer-reviewed publications, 9 awarded patents and 8 applications, and graduated 12 graduate students in instrument development. Guido Verbeck was awarded a Young Investigator Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the University of North Texas Early Career Award for Research Creativity.

Dr. Guido Verbeck continues to develop new mass spectrometers for mobile platforms, single-cell analysis for cancer biomarkers, and nanoparticle SLIM deposition for new materials and combing applications.  He continues this work with the focus of understanding gas phase ion-molecule reaction chemistries and moving instrumentation into once harsh environmental arenas.

Table 17

Podcasts and tweets and visuals oh my!: Making Media to Learn

Dr. Dan Krutka

Photo of Dr. Dan Krutka in front of a green backdrop

It wasn't long ago that most of our news came from major media outlets like newspapers, radio, and television, but media and technology have changed at a rapid pace! Dr. Krutka creates podcasts, tweets, and visuals both with his education students, but also as a way to learn himself. Join Dan at his table if you want to understand new media forms, how they work, and how you create media too to be a lifelong learner.

Dan is an Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration, where he joined the faculty in 2017. He is an award-winning researcher and educator who is the author of a new book on social studies education, the author of over 50 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and other publications. He is the host of the popular Visions of Education podcast and he is an active tweeter with over 6,000 followers.

Table 18

Traveling for Yourself!

Dr. Rafael Major

Dr. Rafael Major standing in a crowd

There are as many reasons to travel as there are travelers, but what is yours? Who do you travel for? Let's talk about past and future adventures together and discuss what we have learned and ways to make our next trip even better.

Rafael Major is a Senior Lecturer in the Honors College who teaches Humanities and Political Science Courses at UNT. His current research is an investigation of Shakespeare's political thought and he has also published articles on Plato, Machiavelli, and Abraham Lincoln. He has directed the Honors College Study Abroad program for the past 5 years and is scheduled to co-teach a summer course on World War II in Paris, Normandy, Germany, and Belgium.

Table 19

Death Threats & Bullets: Stories from 10 Years as a Special Agent

Rachel Malone

Photo of Rachel Malone

From theft of pharmaceuticals to million dollar fraud cases, Rachel Malone managed and directed a variety of criminal investigations as a Special Agent for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Rachel shares stories about fugitive roundups on the US Marshal Fugitive Taskforce, and local homicide investigations. She will discuss current surveillance technology used by law enforcement; drug diversion at the Post Office - USPS employees and theft of pharmaceuticals from the mail; fraud at the VA - abuse of elderly veterans for profit and theft committed by veterans; and a driving while blind case involving a veteran who received compensation from the VA for being blind since the Vietnam war.

A native of Texas, Rachel graduated from the Texas Academy of Math and Science in 2002. Rachel earned a degree in Biology, and a degree in Criminal Justice Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Table 20

Denton-New! Improved! Our town as new product

Paul Meltzer

Photo of Dr. Andrew Torget with a grey background

Paul Meltzer is serving his first term as Denton City Council Member At-Large but comes from a thirty-year career as a new product exec. Paul worked on products with such household names as JELL-O, Gorton’s, Pepperidge Farm, and Close-Up toothpaste before switching into telecommunications and leading innovations in video-on-demand and high-speed Internet.  Companies included divisions of General Foods, General Mills, Campbell Soup, and Time-Warner Cable, retiring at age 50 at the level of Senior Vice President, Product Management.  He earned his MBA at Dartmouth College and his BA in Philosophy at Wesleyan University. (So now you know what happens to Philosophy majors.)

Paul will share some entertaining, behind-the-scenes stories about the products you thought you knew and will invite you to brainstorm along with him about the city of  Denton the way a successful new product exec would.

Table 21

Planning for Disease and Crisis in Your City

Dr. Armin Mikler

Photo of Dr. Armin Mikler

Ever wonder how cities and counties prepare for the worst? Dr. Armin Mikler, director of the Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis and professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, can tell you. He and his team at UNT use computer simulations and modeling to study the spread of diseases and the likelihood and impact of a hazard like an earthquake, Zika outbreak, or any number of scenarios happening to your city. Then, they take it a step further, working with cities, counties, and states to help them better plan for the next crisis.

In 1997, Professor Mikler joined the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Texas with a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. He established the Network Research Laboratory (NRL), and with it, UNT's first Beowulf Cluster to facilitate complex simulations in support of the group's research on Computer Network Protocols and Distributed Systems. In addition to the inaugural group of students, who completed their MS theses under Dr. Mikler's guidance, the laboratory attracted many graduate students with interest in the experimental design of protocols and algorithms for large distributed computing infrastructures. In 2004, Dr. Mikler established the Computational Epidemiology Research Laboratory (CERL) with focus on the development of the computational methodology to model and simulate the spread of diseases and the design and analysis of bio-emergency response plans. Together with colleagues in Biology and Geography, Dr. Mikler established the interdisciplinary Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis (CeCERA) after receiving federal funds from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Today, CeCERA is the home of Ph.D. students who are conducting research in a variety of areas related to Computational Epidemiology, Ecology, Social Network Analysis, and High-Performance Computing under Dr. Mikler's mentorship. Recent graduates of his research group are using their expertise in Computational Epidemiology as faculty members at different universities and as researchers at National Laboratories, and industry. Dr. Mikler’s research on response plan design and analysis is supported by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has supervised over 30 Ph.D. and MS theses and has published over 70 research articles related to a range of topics, including distributed systems, networking, computational epidemiology, and response plan design and analysis.

 

Table 22

Crossing the Line of Control: Language Hunting in India and Pakistan

Dr. Sadaf Munshi

Photo of Dr. Andrew Torget with a grey background

Dr. Munshi will share her experience and adventures of documentation work in India and Pakistan – the two contentious neighbors engaged in continued political tension. The larger goal of her research is to build lasting collaborations, infrastructure and capacity in areas, which pose a number of social, political and cultural challenges and obstacles. 

Dr. Sadaf Munshi was born and raised in Srinagar in the Indian-administered state of Jammu & Kashmir where she received most of her earlier education. She started her professional career as a smalltime playwright in the 1990’s while still pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Science from the Government Women’s College in Srinagar. Amidst continued political turmoil in Kashmir, Dr. Munshi decided to leave her hometown in the pursuit of higher education. After four years of post-graduate training at the University of Delhi in the Indian capital, she headed to the United States in 2001 to pursue a doctoral degree in Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, which she completed in 2006.  

Dr. Munshi started her professional journey at the University of North Texas as an assistant professor in 2006. Her research areas include historical and comparative linguistics, language contact, language documentation, poetics and verbal arts, and grammatical analysis and theory. She specializes on Indo-Aryan languages (e.g. Hindi, Urdu, Kashmiri, and Romani or "Gypsy" language) and Burushaski. Among the courses that she has taught at UNT are Historical Linguistics, Phonology, Field Methods, World Englishes, History of English Language, Language Contact, Tools for Language Documentation, and Gypsy Language and Culture.

As part of her documentation work on the endangered languages of Kashmir (India) and Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan), her studies on language and politics (including an impressive documentation project on Kashmir Oral History documenting personal narratives of people affected by Kashmir conflict), and her multi-disciplinary interests, Dr. Munshi has travelled extensively in India, Pakistan and elsewhere. A leading expert on Kashmiri and on the Burushaski language (an endangered language of Gilgit-Baltistan and parts of Srinagar), Dr. Munshi’s research has been funded by several grants from the National Science Foundation. The outcomes of her documentation work on Burushaski are available in the form of Burushaski Language Resource, a huge digital corpus housed at the UNT Digital Collections Library. Her work has been published in various peer-reviewed international journals in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Her recent book published in 2018 is a descriptive and comparative account on Srinagar Burushaski, a lesser-known variety of Burushaski (Brill Publication: Boston| Leiden). In 2018, Munshi embarked upon a new project, which aims to document Mankiyali, a highly endangered language of Pakistan. This multi-year project funded by another NSF grant and conducted by a bi-national team of scholars and researchers in the US and Pakistan, aims to build infrastructure and capacity for the documentation and preservation of endangered and low-resource languages of Pakistan.  

Aside from her academic achievements, Munshi is a prolific poet, columnist and social critic, who writes in Kashmiri, English and Urdu. She has published numerous articles on various topics related to Kashmiri society and culture, language and politics, and topics on gender. Her social and political critiques and her personal accounts on a wide range of topics have appeared in newspapers such as Kashmir Observer, Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Times, Greater Kashmir and Huffington Post, among others. Besides creative writing and poetry, Munshi has a great passion for painting. A self-taught and accomplished artist, she has produced numerous pieces of art in oil, watercolor, and multimedia. A solo exhibition of her paintings was held at the Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in 2014 – the first of its kind by a woman artist in the state.   

 

Table 23

Inspire the Teacher Within: Lead with heart and passion

Bethaney Pilat, E-RYT500, M.Ed

Bethaney Pilat in yoga pose

Yoga teacher and business owner, Bethaney Pilat, is a born and raised mid-westerner with a passion to teach and empower others. She and her husband planted roots in Texas in 2004, started a family, and opened a business – Inspire Yoga. Bethaney is a teacher at her core, raised in a family of educators, with a gift for reaching and inspiring others with her ideas, words, and actions. Inspire Yoga opened its first studio located in Highland Village, Texas in December of 2010. The second location in Denton opened in August of 2015, and the first licensed location in Grapevine opened this past August 2018.

Inspire Yoga has become a leader and beacon in the community with 8 years of being voted the Best Yoga Studio in Denton County, over 100 quality teachers educated and certified, and countless students whose lives have been forever changed for the better. From a desire to spread the positive effects of yoga in the local community, Bethaney believes Inspire Yoga will change the world – one pose at a time. 

Table 24

Embracing Ambiguity

Binod Shrestha

Dr. Binod Shrestha standing in front of a lake and the countrside

Change is the only constant among the variables in the equation of life. Change is never easy, it is nonetheless ever present in our lives. Unknowable nature of change forces us to deal with a sense of ambiguity. Ambiguity creates complexity and anxiety; a combination of which makes it difficult to make decisions in both life and a career. How do we be comfortable with ambiguity and yet accomplish the goals we set out for ourselves?

Professor Shrestha stumbled into the visual art world by wanting (or told) to be a doctor, a pilot, a microbiologist, and a graphic designer. Professor Shrestha describes the decision to become a visual artist as a decision taken at a moment of epiphany not knowing what to expect or with any concrete plan; by embracing ambiguity. A new transplant to Denton, TX (via Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Minnesota), Professor Shrestha joined UNT in 2017 to lead newly re-organized Foundations Program at the College of Visual Arts and Design. Since his arrival, Professor Shrestha has engaged in participatory conversation with the college to support, re-organize and orient the program to address the current need in visual arts and design curriculum. 

Table 25

Hack Attack: Is Computer Security Out of Control?

Dr. Mark A. Thompson, Sr.

Interested in cashing in on the recent Bitcoin-Mania that’s been going around? Dr. Mark Thompson from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering explores the recent ups and downs of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Through an informal conversation, Dr. Thompson provides some insight into how these cryptocurrencies work to help those interested understand the basic concepts without overwhelming them with the technical jargon.

Has all the news and talk about data breaches and attacks on our smart devices (think Philips Hue, Amazon Echo, Nest smart thermostat, etc.) gotten you down? Dr. Thompson takes a look at how to navigate through the insecurity of the digital age, especially when everything seems to be on the Internet these days and we continue to get bombarded by cool gadgets that are feature rich with promises of convenience and flexibility. In this informal talk, Dr. Thompson explores how we got here, what we can do about it, and the future of cybersecurity.

Dr. Mark A. Thompson, Sr., is currently a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UNT. He has been teaching in the computer science field for over 12 years with a special interest in cybersecurity. He is affiliated with the Center for Information and Computer Security (CICS) and is actively pursuing grants and research in cybersecurity. Prior to joining the ranks in academia, he worked at Bell-Northern Research, the research and development arm of Nortel Networks, for nearly 16 years on all phases of development as a senior programmer and systems architect on large, real-time telecommunications systems, including military and other security-based technologies.

He received his Ph.D. from Louisiana Tech University in Computational Analysis and Modeling, an interdisciplinary program in mathematics, computer science, and statistics with a focus in Cyber Security. Thompson possesses Master’s degrees in Mathematical Sciences and Business Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas and has a BS in Computer Engineering from Tulane University.

Table 26

Meet the Professor Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records

Dr. Neal and Mrs. Debbie Smatresk host Dr. Andrew Torget

Photo of Dr. Andrew Torget with a grey background

Hosted by Dr. Neal and Debbie Smatresk, this conversation about history with Dr. Andrew Torget will be shorter. Andrew Torget is a historian of nineteenth-century North America at the UNT, where he also runs a digital humanities lab. His work has revolved around two intersecting themes: the expansion of the American South into the West, and developing new digital methods for research, scholarship, and teaching.

He began work in both areas while a graduate student at the University of Virginia. During his years at UVA, he served as the co-editor and manager for the “Valley of the Shadow” project and worked as a project manager in the Virginia Center for Digital History. While a graduate student, he also developed the “Texas Slavery Project” as an experiment in how new visualization methods might provide new insights into my research on the westward expansion of the American South.

Following that work, he became the founding director for the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond, where projects are developed like “Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008” and the “History Engine: Tools for Collaborative Education and Research.”

In 2009, Torget joined the history department at the University of North Texas, where he teaches courses on the U. S.-Mexico borderlands, American expansion, slavery, and the intersections of the American South and West. At UNT, he has worked closely with the university’s digitization lab and computer science department on several projects. Together, they developed the NEH-funded “Mapping Texts: Visualizing American Historical Newspapers” as a partnership with Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West.  In 2011, he was named the inaugural David J. Weber Research Fellow at the Clements Center for the Study of the Southwest at Southern Methodist University.

His most recent book is Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850, which tells the remarkable story of how global economic shifts during the first half of the nineteenth century transformed northern Mexico into the American Southwest.  Featured on National Public RadioTexas Monthly, and the Dallas Morning NewsSeeds of Empire has won twelve book prizes, awards, and honors.

Table 27

Authenticity in the Instagram Age: I loved you before your Instagram was pretty

Megan Van Groll

Photo of Megan Van Groll

As social media becomes more ubiquitous, the temptation to present an overly polished version of our lives has reached a fever pitch. This 'highlights reel' effect is particularly strong on visual platforms like Instagram, which has exploded in growth, now with 1 billion monthly active users. 

We're more connected than ever before, but all this posturing has only served to make us feel less connected to each other. 

Thankfully, the tide is turning. We're ditching the "I woke up like this" faux-perfectionism in favor of vulnerability and community. We're sharing the raw, unscripted reality of our lives - a trend fueled by new ephemeral, real-time content formats like Stories and Live video. Even businesses and brands are coming around to the age of transparency and radical candor, to profitable results.

If you've struggled to 'be yourself' on social media, balance vulnerability with building a personal brand online, or are simply curious about what's next for social media, this is the table you don't want to miss. 

Megan Van Groll, a UNT Honors College graduate ('08) is a social media consultant, artist and writer in Dallas, TX. 

After leading social media strategy for several large national brands in agency and corporate roles, Van Groll took the leap into entrepreneurship last year by launching a social media consulting business. She now works directly with businesses to build their brands in the digital space. Her recently released guide, "How to Be Magnetic on Social Media in 2019," is available now for free download at askmvg.com/magnetic.

Van Groll's figurative paintings were also recently featured in Studio Visit magazine, and in “My Eyes Are Up Here,” a 2-person show at Fort Works Art which was named one of the top 5 art exhibits of the past year by Fort Worth Weekly. 

Table 28

Are Games Useful to Learning? Evidence, measurement, and expectations for future returns

Dr. Scott Warren

This conversation explores unanswered questions about how educational institutions should consider the valuation of the make or buy decision with learning games starting with the question: are the learning returns from these assets sufficient for continued investment? If they are, what measurements are necessary for managers to determine whether learning games offer sufficient benefits commensurate with their cost? We will explore the questions that university, K-12, and training managers should ask before deciding to invest in the creation or purchase of learning games and are they worth the cost?

Dr. Scott Warren has developed and studied the use of learning games and simulations in settings from kindergarten through adult training. This work has resulted in multiple games ranging from the National Science Foundation supported Quest Atlantis Taiga and Anytown game worlds to undergraduate computer literacy transmedia gaming courses The Door and Broken Window. His games taught students to consider the complexity of problems using inquiry-and problem-based learning methods to explore multiple forms of literacy that require critical thinking and teamwork. Later work such as The 2015 Project brought together information science and literacy skills with complex problem solving related to global issues framed in business, science, international, and historical settings. Scott continues to work as an external evaluator for National Institutes of Health supported learning games such as The Mice of Riddle Place, focused on the usability of these games in naturalistic settings, along with understanding the valuable learning returns from investing in the development of game assets for education. The complexity of such research has led him to develop of new methods such as Critical CineEthnography that leverage technologies to study the multifarious aspects of student, teacher, and system interactions. His work today focuses on developing mathematical models for calculating the valuable returns derived from learning games, simulations, and virtual worlds to help explain and justify the cost of developing or purchasing these assets to aid managers in deciding whether or not to invest in innovative educational media. Dr. Warren is the co-author of the 2017 book Learning Games: The Science and Art

Table 29

Lessons of the Soul: How serving as mayor changed me

Mayor Chris Watts

Denton Mayor Chris Watts

Mayor Chris Watts Bio
City of Denton

Chris Watts was elected Mayor of Denton in May 2014 and is serving his 3rd term. He previously served three terms as a single-district Council Member from 2007-2013.

Mayor Watts graduated from Denton High School before going on to the University of North Texas and obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in Counseling Education and Student Services.  In 1990 Mayor Watts switched his career path from computer programmer and analyst to real estate broker and investor. Mayor Watts has owned and operated a real estate investment firm for more than 25 years. He later attended Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (now Texas A&M School of Law) and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 2000.

Table 30

This guy gets paid to coach video gamers?

Dylan Wray

Dylan West

While the esports industry has been going for years, the competitive gaming industry is starting to make its way into more mainstream popularity. College and high school campuses are starting to legitimize student talent and support them while they achieve their academic goals. This causing a chain reaction of colleges to pick up and research programs, and forcing the NCAA and colleges themselves to assess their policy and support for college students who compete for their university through esports. UNT is the first public university to field an official esports program and is developing and facilitating students to achieve their academic goals, while representing the university in a a brand new competitive front. UNT is now of the top teams in the US for Rocket League, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch.

Dylan grew up in Fort Collins Colorado. There, he also got is BA in Media Communications at Colorado State University, and then his MS in Audio Engineering for Video Games at the University of Colorado Denver. All the while, he was competing across the state and beyond in a game called Dota, and Dota 2 (Defense against the Ancients). Dylan now is at UNT developing the campus’s collegiate esports program, which supports several competitive teams, and provides students practical knowledge about the esports industry.