Dr. Roland Vela is an Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at UNT, having retired in spring of 2000 after 35 years of service to the Department of Biological Sciences, as well as the greater community. He was the first Latino professor awarded tenure at UNT. Vela led his field in the study of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and his research in bacterial physiology was recognized both nationally and abroad. Dr. Vela’s contributions to research and scholarship were numerous: during his career at UNT, Dr. Vela supervised over 45 master’s and 19 doctoral students. He also published 75 scientific papers, a textbook and an accompanying lab manual. In 1991, the University established an award in his name to be granted to individuals or groups making significant contributions to the education of Hispanics.
Dr. Vela was also highly respected for his contributions to the surrounding community. Vela was the first Hispanic elected to Denton City Council in 1979. Vela also served on the board of the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) for eleven years, from 1980-1991. For his high regard by his colleagues, as well as his professional standing, personal accomplishments and leadership, Vela served as the 1987 Summer Commencement Speaker.
In August of 2012, the Denton chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens lobbied City Council to name a planned soccer complex at North Lakes Park after Dr. Vela in honor of his numerous contributions to the community and its citizens. He was recently named one of the top 100 Texas Latinos of the 20th century in the millennium edition of Latino Monthly magazine.
The collection contains committee work, correspondence, professional organizations, student dissertations and correspondence and technical reports and processes, as well as his many professional and scholarly contributions.