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Students choose to recommend Rodney Mitchell as namesake for new residence hall

Students choose to recommend Rodney Mitchell as namesake for new residence hall

April 11
15:17 2018

Students voted on social media to recommend UNT’s late Associate Dean of Students, Rodney Mitchell, as the namesake for the university’s newest residence hall, SGA President Barrett Cole said.

Mitchell, 45, died in his sleep Feb. 25. He was UNT’s associate dean of students since 2013 and was the director of the UNT Food Pantry. 

“We’re always going to take student opinion into account,” Vice President for Student Affairs Elizabeth With said. “[Mitchell] made such a big impact on our campus, our students, faculty and staff. Rodney was a truly exceptional person and made a great impact on my life, for sure.”

In a poll created by SGA via Twitter on March 30, Mitchell received 55 percent of the 714 votes cast.

SGA created the poll with the top name suggestions to narrow recommendations down to one for the university board. Other options were Irma E. L. Sephas, “Mean” Joe Greene and Joe Atkins.

Mitchell helped low-income students as the Director of TRIO Upward Bound and Student Support Services for almost 12 years before transitioning to Associate Dean of Students in 2013. The TRIO program aims to help those students “overcome class, social and cultural barriers” while studying at UNT, according to their website.

Communication design senior Macarena Astorga knew Mitchell when was the Director of TRIO. She has been in the program since she was a freshman in high school.

Astorga said Mitchell motivated his students and was involved with ensuring their success at UNT. She said she thinks Mitchell is the “perfect candidate” for the new residence hall name.

“Even after he changed positions from TRIO to [Associate] Dean of Students, he never failed to tell me he was proud of me every time we would cross paths,” Astorga said. “Rodney’s name should become a legacy for being so loyal and faithful not only [to] UNT but to all the thousands of students and staff he impacted over the years.”

Mitchell earned his Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences and then his Master’s in Public Administration at UNT in 1999. He was also a residence hall director at College Inn in 1997.

SGA will present a resolution recommending Mitchell as the namesake for the new hall. Officials said the resolution does not have jurisdiction on the final name chosen.

The Board of Regents makes the final decision in naming buildings, With said.

“Personally, I never had a close relationship with him, but initiatives that he started such as the food pantry have had an impact on me during my time at UNT,” Collins said. “I feel that making Rodney the namesake to the new residence hall would be a great way to honor such a significant person [who impacted] so many students lives.”

Collins created the resolution along with a petition in February when she noticed a lack of representation for women and people of color in building names on campus.

The resolution was sent to university officials such as President Neal Smatresk and the Board of Regents in early March.

The residence hall is set to open in June 2019.

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Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez

Senior News Writer

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