NCTC Instructor designs museum exhibit and finds historic treasures

Elizabeth Dieter | Sep 22, 2016

Robin Jett, history instructor on the Corinth Campus of North Central Texas College, developed the new museum exhibit that opened this month in the Courthouse on the Square Museum in Denton. Titled Voices from the Past, Voices for the Future: Higher Education's Impact on Denton County, the exhibit features history, artifacts and photos from the University of North Texas, Texas Woman's University, and North Central Texas College.

Ms. Jett was assisted in her research by the Morton Museum and the Public Relations Department of North Central Texas College in Gainesville. While looking for artifacts relating to NCTC for the exhibit, she and Dianne Walterscheid, Director of Public Relations, discovered a "treasure trove" of materials relating to the founder of the college, Randolph Lee Clark. Most of the materials had been placed in shipping boxes several years ago and had been forgotten.

"The collection that NCTC possesses is truly one-of-a-kind," Ms. Jett explained. "It features photographs of Clark and his family, as well as important artifacts pertaining to Clark's education in Chicago."

Randolph Lee Clark attended the University of Chicago as a student of William Raney Harper, who is considered by historians to be the "father of the junior college movement." Under Harper's scholarship, Clark became an advocate for citizen-oriented education, and opened the junior college in Wichita Falls before co-founding Gainesville Junior College in 1924. He would later assist in the founding of other junior colleges before his death in 1941.

Some of the artifacts uncovered include Clark's original college diploma. His engraved leather briefcase is now on loan to the Denton County Office of History and Culture, where it has been placed in the exhibit that explains the history of North Central Texas College.

Ms. Jett is excited about the prospects of this newly-discovered archive. "After taking the steps to preserve and catalog the items, I hope that they can be permanently displayed to illustrate just how influential Clark and NCTC have been to the history of higher education in Texas."

The exhibit, Voices from the Past, Voices for the Future can be viewed free of charge Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays from 11 am to 3 pm inside the Courthouse-on-the-Square in downtown Denton, 110 W. Hickory Street.