LEON BREEDEN, JAZZ GREAT, BECOMES DR. LEON BREEDEN ON 8-14-09

By
Real Estate Agent with Bill Cherry, Realtor 0124242

The University of North Texas began as North Texas Normal College.  A normal college was the name given colleges that primarily educated students to be public school teachers.

And normal colleges, for whatever the reasons, were second rate citizens among colleges and universities. 

Oft times their classroom credits wouldn't even transfer to a new college should a student move, say, from North Texas Normal to the University of Texas. 

Or, if the credits were accepted, they came in as a "C" regardless of what grade the student had earned.

Additionally, at least in Texas, the legislature had a history of not giving fairly, much less adequate funding normal colleges.  Instead they showering University of Texas and Texas A&M with an abundance.

So the question that has always haunted me is this:  Why did college professors choose to teach in normal colleges when pay was substandard and the employment wouldn't enhance their resumes?  If can only be because educating others in schools where they thought there was the most needed, rose above all else.

By the time I entered North Texas State College, it had slowly moved from its normal college beginnings to being North Texas State Teachers College and then North Texas State College.  But its position in the world of academics hadn't risen significantly, even though the education it put out was equal to or better than all Texas state universities, public or private.

Oddly, in the late 1950s, Texas Christian University professor, Leon Breeden, was talked into taking over a relatively new program at North Texas, its jazz music studies.  His jazz bands -- known by the hour of the day the band rehearsed -- became so exciting and popular that they became North Texas' world-wide ambassadors, playing for presidents, in foreign countries, in fact literally playing for audiences around the world.

The North Texas Lab Bands by themselves put Denton, Texas' North Texas State College on the academic map, and thus the status rose, and finally it became University of North Texas.  The school couldn't be ignored anymore.

So after Mr. Breeden retired, it just seemed only right to me that the school owed him full honors -- an honorary doctorate degree and a building named after him.  The story of the marriage of Leon Breeden to North Texas State College should be memoralized, I thought.

My nearly twenty-year pleas were largely ignored by the University under three presidents and several boards of regents. 

But alas, on August 14, 2009, now 88-years old, Leon Breeden will become Dr. Leon Breeden.  And there seems to be hope that a building, rehearsal hall, maybe a special classroom will be named after him within the near future.

Congratulations to those who made this happen, including President Gretchen Batzille, and college of music dean James Scott.

The University of North Texas finally got its priorities right.

 

BILL CHERRY, REALTORS

DALLAS - HIGHLAND PARK

214 503-8563

Copyright 2009 - William S. Cherry

 

Comments (3)

Sheila Moran
RE/MAX Access (Garden Ridge, San Antonio, New Braunfels) - New Braunfels, TX
SanAntonioSheila.com, RE/MAX Access, 210-32

Bill,

This is an awesome story.

Kudos to you for playing a part in making it happen...how special is that.

And congrats to Dr. Leon Breeden!

Aug 05, 2009 01:42 AM
Anonymous
Dennis Guillaume

I had the pleasure of studying with Leon many years ago.  Does anyone have a current e-mail address for him?  I would like to send him a note.

Feb 17, 2010 01:21 AM
#2
BILL CHERRY
Bill Cherry, Realtor - Dallas, TX
Broker & Wealth Coach

Dennis, Mr. Breeden is too feeble to use email these days.  He canceled his account about 3 years ago.

If you'll email Dr. Jim Scott, Dean of the College of Music, he'll give you a mailing address and phone number.  james.scott@unt.edu.

Mr. Breeden would love to hear from you.

Feb 17, 2010 01:36 AM