Gerald Roland Vela Múzquiz Papers, 1962-1990Add to your cart.

By Miguel Juárez

Collection Overview

Title: Gerald Roland Vela Múzquiz Papers, 1962-1990Add to your cart.
ID: 01/ AR0447
Primary Creator: Gerald Roland Vela Muzquiz
Extent: 14.0 Boxes
Arrangement: The original collection totaled 12 boxes.  Two boxes of student files, student grade books and other personal files were removed from the collection and returned to Dr. Vela.  Original order of materials was adhered to as much as possible.  Later Dr. Vela added a podium that was used by "The Denton Forum."
Languages: English


Materials and papers associated with Gerald Roland Vela Muzquiz's 35 year career at the University of North Texas.  Roland Vela was one of the first Mexican-American Microbiologists in the country.  This collection represents the first-acquired and first fully-processed collection of materials from a Mexican-American faculty member at UNT.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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.

Collection Historical Note

Gerald Roland Vela Múzquiz was born in Eagle Pass, Texas on September 18, 1927 to Marcial Vela Bermea and Maria de Guadalupe Múzquiz de Vela.  He attended public schools in San Antonio, Texas, until April 1945 when he volunteered for service in the United States Navy.  He was honorably discharged as Seaman First Class in July of 1946, Vela returned to San Antonio.  In 1950, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1951 a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in bacteriology and with a minor in chemistry.  During the time, he supported himself financially by working at various jobs including night orderly at a hospital, auto mechanic, insurance salesman, waiter, cook, construction laborer, and laboratory tutor in microbiology.  From 1952 to 1954 he worked as director of a vaccine production laboratory for a private company and from 1955 to 1957 he was a staff scientist at Harvard University.

In 1953 he married Emma Lamar Codina Longoria of Mission, Texas with whom he raised four children: Gerald Roland, Anna Maria, Yolanda Marta, and Jaime Joel, born in 1954, 1956, 1958 and 1961.  From Fall 1959 to Summer 1964 he was one of six Latino professional employees in the ATC, USAF Aerospace Medical Center, School of Aerospace Medicine, at  Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  He returned to the University of Texas in 1960 and was awarded the doctorate in Microbiology and Biochemistry in January 1963. The supervising professor in microbiology was Dr. Orville Wyss, his minor professor in biochemistry was Dr. William Shive, and his committee members included: Drs. Jackson W. Foster, Vernon T. Schuhardt, and Roger L. Stark.  Vela started his position at then Teacher’s State College in September 1965 and left in June 2000 (served as a faculty member for 35 years).  He was also a member of the Denton Forum, a “philosophical society” that was reorganized in 1931 from the Denton Men’s Forum, from 1966 to 2003.  The Denton Forum started out as a men’s only society, later accepting and inducting women in 1979.

In 1993, Vela organized an annual Hispanic Conference dedicated to the education of Latino/a students that met until 2003 or 2004 and later became known as the Hispanic Friends of the University of North Texas.

Vela is a native Texan, descendent of Spanish settlers who arrived in San Antonio ca 1719 (maternal) and the Rio Grande Valley, ca 1740 (paternal).  He is bilingual and bicultural by virtue of having attended schools in San Antonio Public Schools while living in a Spanish-speaking community with a strong Mexican cultural heritage.  His ability in Spanish includes reading and writing as well as certain knowledge of cultures of Mexico, Colombia, and Spain, and the literature of the Hispanic world.

His interests include: chess, literature, photography, history, music, and flying.  Vela has participated extensively in politics in Denton, including two terms as Chairman of the Airport Board, one term on the Denton City Council, six terms on the Board of Directors of the Texas Municipal Power Agency, two terms on the Board of Directors for the Flow Foundation, and many other city commissions and boards.  After retiring from his professorship at the University of North Texas after thirty four years of service, Vela has directed numerous graduate students and is a past member of the American Society for Microbiology and is in the process of writing two books.

Access Information

Access Restrictions:

This collection is not restricted.

Use Restrictions:

Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Special Collections department. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Physical Access Note:

This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hour notice prior to use.

Reading Room or Duplication Requests

Depending on any access restrictions noted above, you may be able to request items be delivered to our reading room, or that we make reproductions for you. Just click on either the or icons in the listings below to be routed to our request form.

Administrative Information

Repository: Manuscripts
Accruals: 1982-048, 2002-016, 2012-022
Acquisition Source: Roland Vela
Acquisition Method: Gift
Preferred Citation: Gerald Roland Vela Múzquiz Papers, University of North Texas Special Collections


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