North Texas Daily

UNT celebrates 125 years with tartan design

UNT celebrates 125 years with tartan design

Meagan Sullivan | Staff Photographer

UNT celebrates 125 years with tartan design
September 07
12:05 2015

Anjulie Van Sickle | Staff Writer

This September marks UNT’s 125th anniversary, and the UNT Foundation is giving the university an unconventional gift: a Scottish tartan.

The tartan, which originated in Scotland, is a plaid print typically woven out of wool. Several schools around the country have adapted the tartan to their own colors and used it to show off school spirit.

The idea was to create a unique tartan and register it with the official Scottish registry. The Tartan Project was led by the UNT Foundation with help from the College of Visual Arts and Design. This is the first time UNT has had an official tartan.

UNT Foundation’s President Emiratis Jerry Holbert drew inspiration for the project from previous universities he has worked at. Holbert has been with the Foundation for about six years and is currently retired.


The tartan design can be seen throughout the campus bookstore as well as in branding in some departments on campus. Meagan Sullivan | Senior Staff Photographer

Holbert came up with the idea of creating a tartan for UNT in 2013. He presented the idea to Lesli Robertson, a studio arts lecturer, who loved the idea and incorporated the project into her advanced weaving class in the 2014 spring semester. She and her students worked throughout the semester on possible tartan designs and eventually presented their final ideas to a committee.

“I was pleased with the quality of the student work,” said Holbert, who was on the committee. “I thought there were some great designs. I was also pleased with how seriously [the committee] took the selection process.”

After the committee narrowed the choices down to three, the final designs were put online where UNT alumni, students and faculty could vote for their favorite. After two weeks of voting, Casey Heidt’s design was chosen as UNT’s official tartan print.

Heidt, who has since graduated, was a senior at the time studying metalsmithing and fibers. She spent several weeks researching the culture of Scotland as well as the history of tartans. Her design is based on the Denton city grid.

“The center of the pattern in the administration building in the middle of the campus and all the streets line up on the grid,” she said. “People could look at it and say, ‘Oh, I walked from here to here.’”

The design was sent in to the Scottish Register of Tartans and officially registered last June. It was presented to the UNT last summer during a ceremony with President Neal Smatresk.

“We said, ‘here it is—run with it—we hope you can do something good with it,’” Holbert said. “They did.”

The overall goal of the project was to increase Mean Green pride and school awareness.

“It’s another symbol [students] can have in their lives that shows how proud they are,” Robertson said. “One of the things that’s exciting is that it brings a whole new line of products and having things that represent UNT in their lives.”


Casey Heidt Meagan Sullivan | Senior Staff Photographer

Several departments around campus have jumped on the new branding idea.

The UNT Barnes & Noble is filled with tartan mugs, t-shirts, silk bow ties, scarves, flags, cell phone cases and other items. Rawlins Hall installed tartan light fixtures. UNT Dining Services has even mentioned requesting tartan table runners. Products will also be sold at the Mean Green Stadium Store.

Vendors like Barnes and Noble and the Mean Green Stadium Store pay a 20% royalty to the University for any licensed product sold, according to Monique Bird, a UNT news promotion specialist. Half of the commission will go to UNT and the other half goes toward student scholarships.

“I think it’s great for them to have an opportunity as students to be recognized for their contribution,” Robertson said. “It’s a really good boost as a students that you’ve designed something that’s valued and that thousands of people voted on.”

Featured Image: The tartan design is an effort by the UNT Foundation and the College of Visual Arts and Design to design a tartan for the university and register it with the official Scottish registry. Meagan Sullivan | Senior Staff Photographer

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