MLK Day at UNT Dallas

Dallas, Texas (Jan. 14, 2018)  The University of North Texas at Dallas celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and two University leaders shared how they remain inspired by the words and historic deeds of America’s “trumpet of conscience.” Monday, January 15, marks the 89th birthday of Dr. King, and the impact and influence of the civil rights leader is still felt across the country, and on our campus.

Dr. Betty Stewart is the University’s highest-ranking academic leader as Provost, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. Throughout her career, she has been a pioneer as a chemist and by building educational programs, and she is a believer in the transformational power of education in the lives of students and their families. Of the many inspirational quotes by Dr. King that she can recite, one particularly resonates to Dr. Stewart when it comes to her daily duties managing faculty and staff.

“There are so many lessons that he taught us that will always hold true when it comes to non-violence and seeking equality, and those are things we can always learn from,” Dr. Stewart said. “When you go a little deeper, I reflect on what he shared about what it means to be a leader. He once said, ‘A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.’ It is a remarkable statement, because as a leader, there are many times you have to work through challenges and create an understanding among people with different views. There have been times I have been asked how I define leadership, and I like to share that quote from Dr. King.”

Nakia Douglas is the Director of Trio and Precollegiate Programs at UNT Dallas. The Federal TRIO Programs are outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide support for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Douglas, who attended Upward Bound programs as a youngster, joined the University’s executive staff recently after serving in leadership roles for the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) since 2004. Douglas focuses on King’s vision of a “beloved community.”

"Dr. King’s Dream is a vision for what the world could and should be at this time,” Douglas said. “The responsibility each individual holds is to remain steadfast in our commitment to service, faith and our fellow man.”

During his career, Douglas has been a principal of a DISD high school, middle school and elementary school, and was the founding principal of the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy – a unique, all-male public school that opened in southern Dallas in 2011. He has been a fixture in Dallas public schools for over a decade, and the teachings of Dr. King have been an inspiration for Douglas throughout his lifetime, whether as a student or an educator.

"Dr. King’s life, mission and work inspired me to study, lead and serve others to create a better tomorrow for future generations,” Douglas said. “Leadership comes with many sacrifices, expectations and responsibilities that require us to give so much of ourselves for the betterment of others. The vision and mission which Dr. King laid out for us all guides my work to this day.”

The UNT Dallas mission statement and vision – to empower students, transform lives and strengthen communities through education and community connectedness as a pathway to social mobility in Dallas – align with the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King on advancing social change. While the holiday gives our students a short break before the semester begins, as a campus community we celebrate our students, who embrace service work and volunteerism by participating in community initiatives throughout the year.