In memory of
Robert B. Toulouse
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In memory of
Robert B. Toulouse
Robert B. "Bob" Toulouse, Provost Emeritus of the University of North Texas and longtime dean and namesake of the university's graduate school, died Tuesday, April 11, 2017, in Denton. He was 98 years old. He is survived by his two sons, Sam and Robert Jr.; and granddaughter, Amy Toulouse. A celebration of Dr. Toulouse's long and productive life will be held in the sanctuary of Denton's First United Methodist Church at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2017, with Rev. Deana Mason officiating. He will be buried at DFW National Cemetery. An educator and administrator who spent nearly 40 years at UNT, Bob was best known for building its graduate school into one of the largest in Texas by the 1980s and establishing many of its graduate programs. The Missouri native was a World War II veteran who served for 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, five years on active duty and the remaining years in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He retired in 1978 as a lieutenant colonel. Born in Wellsville, Mo., Bob excelled throughout his life. He graduated from Wellsville High School as valedictorian and went on to earn his bachelor's degree in education (1939) from the University of Missouri, where he met his wife, Virginia. They married Aug. 7, 1948. Bob was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941, volunteered for Officers Candidate School in 1942, and was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving in World War II. One of his most memorable experiences was leading a military convoy over the Burma Road into China. After returning from active duty, he continued his studies at the University of Missouri, earning his master's degree (1947) and doctoral degree (1948) in education. He also was a Peabody Scholar and Gregory Scholar. The University of Missouri later honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Bob loved spending time with his family and traveling, which provided balance to his demanding work responsibilities as dean of UNT's graduate school and later as provost. He and Virginia were world travelers, visiting China, Russia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico and various countries in Europe and the United Kingdom, as well as many places in the U.S. Bob also was an avid gardener and became known on the UNT campus as "African violet man" for the plants that adorned his office. At home, he spent time in his yard and his greenhouse, cultivating and nurturing his many plants, which included a prized Norfolk Island pine. In his professional life, Bob was a passionate educator and administrator. Starting out as an assistant professor in UNT's College of Education in 1948, he rose through the ranks to become provost, the second-highest leadership post. But many of his greatest contributions came while he was dean of the graduate school, a role that lasted from 1954 to 1982. Bob helped make UNT one of the three largest graduate institutions in the state by the 1980s and the most comprehensive graduate institution in the North Texas region. During his 28-year tenure as graduate dean, UNT's number of graduate programs grew from a handful to more than 100 programs. Graduate enrollment increased from roughly 400 students to nearly 5,500, which at the time represented almost a third of UNT's total enrollment. The graduate school raised its standards and retained more students due to the policies Bob established. As graduate dean and as provost, Bob helped UNT build its stature and momentum as a public research university on the rise. As provost, he was part of a leadership team led by then-Chancellor and President Alfred F. Hurley that transformed UNT into a university firmly focused on becoming a top-tier public research university. As provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1982 to 1985, Bob raised undergraduate and graduate admission and degree program requirements. In 1990, after his retirement, he and Virginia established the Toulouse Scholars Program Fund, which provides money for faculty research programs, helping to spur more research. Bob and Virginia became some of UNT's most ardent supporters. They were members of the President's Council and established a charitable trust to support graduate student scholarships, in addition to establishing the Toulouse Scholars Program Fund. They also established the Samuel and Maybel Danford scholarships for undergraduate students in religious studies in honor of Virginia's parents. Bob also served on the UNT Foundation board. Bob was one of the architects of the Federation of North Texas Area Universities, which is now a consortium of three universities: UNT, Texas Woman's University and Texas A&M-Commerce. In 1983, the federation honored him by establishing the Robert B. Toulouse Scholarship in recognition of his many contributions. Bob retired from UNT in August 1985 as Provost Emeritus, but returned to serve as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs during the 1989-90 academic year at Chancellor and President Hurley's request. UNT honored Bob for his service and impact in numerous ways. In 1990, the university named the Robert B. Toulouse School of Graduate Studies — now the Toulouse Graduate School — in his honor, making him the only administrator for whom one of UNT's 12 colleges and schools is named. And he was twice awarded the UNT President's Award (1982 and 1990). Throughout his career, Bob served in various higher education associations, including the Council of Graduate Schools in the U.S., the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, the Texas Association of Graduate Schools, the American Association of University Professors and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education for which he chaired the Regional Accreditation Board for several years. He also was a member of Phi Delta Kappa. Bob also was active in the Denton community. He was a member of the Denton Kiwanis Club and served as its president from 1963 to 1964. He also was a member of the Friends of Denton Public Library board and served on boards and committees for First United Methodist Church.
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