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G. Brint Ryan College of Business.

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Courtney Banatoski (’03, ’06 M.S.)

If she’d been at any other university, Courtney Banatoski (’03, ’06 M.S.) might never have raised her hand.

It was nearly 20 years ago that the then-undergrad sat amongst her fellow business majors in an entrepreneurship course, listening skeptically as the professor discussed how a business’ lack of growth means that it’s dying. Though the rest of the class seemed onboard with the concept, Banatoski didn’t try to quash the niggling voice in her head. In just her first few semesters at UNT, she’d already internalized the idea that she didn’t have to think like everyone else.

So up her hand went.

“Uncontrolled growth,” she said, “is also a cancer.”

The classroom fell silent. The professor chuckled. “I think you might be in the wrong program," he told her.

“He was right,” Banatoski says. “I thought that was my tribe, but it wasn’t.”

Because while she had an undeniable knack for numbers and technical writing and spreadsheets, she also had an insatiable desire to use those skills to serve the larger community. “I realized in that moment that I’m the champion of the underdog,” says Banatoski, who ultimately earned a B.B.A. in organizational behavior and an M.S. in economic and community development. After more than a decade spent in nonprofit management, she’s now putting her hard-earned skills to use as president and CEO of Denton-based Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home, which aims to help vulnerable children and families through its children’s residential program, family residential program, and counseling and treatment services.

Her realization came prior to UNT launching its nonprofit leadership studies program — now offered through the College of Health and Public Service — which meant Banatoski had to blaze her own trail. And in a place where traveling off the beaten path was not only supported but encouraged, she didn’t undertake her academic journey alone.

“The path to nonprofit management was illuminated for me by professors like Grant Miles, Donna Ledgerwood, Paul Leung, Terry Clower, Bud Weinstein and Don Lewis,” says Banatoski, who served as adjunct faculty in UNT’s nonprofit leadership studies program from 2008-2015. “When I would go check in with them, they would say, ‘This is where I see your strengths, and this is where I think you should do some exploration.’ They were willing to not only discuss the challenges I faced, but help me find solutions.”

Lewis, for example, helped her land a post-graduate internship at  Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County, where she assisted with the organization’s capital campaign. That led to her first full-time position as a grant writer with Communities in Schools of North Texas, where she worked her way up to director of research development and grants. In 2010, Banatoski returned to UNT as director of research development, before becoming director of innovation and strategic partnerships.

But all of her previous work had been in child-related nonprofits, and she knew she eventually wanted to return to the frontlines of helping kids. After her 5-year-old daughter’s best friend lost her battle with leukemia, she realized it was time.

“Life is so short,” Banatoski says, “and I felt called to live very authentically and use my talents in ways that I thought they would be best employed.”


Published by Erin Cristales in UNT North Texan Summer 2020



Blake Ibanez ('16)

For the Dallas-based band Power Trip, 2020 started off great. They had performed in Asia and were about to cut a new album.

But the coronavirus pandemic forced them to postpone their tour to Europe. Then lead singer Riley Gale ('10) died suddenly in August of unspecified causes.

So, when the band was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for their song, Executioner's Tax (Swing of the Axe) (Live), it was bittersweet -- but a big, and welcome, surprise.

"It was pretty exciting," says guitarist Blake Ibanez ('16). "With this whole year, it was a much-needed shot in the arm to get excited about something."

Power Trip began when Ibanez, then 16, frequently attended shows in Dallas-Fort Worth and ran into Gale, then 21, who had an idea for a band, in late 2007. Ibanez, who lived in Fort Worth, drove up to Richardson, and they recorded a demo. Soon, they began playing around the metroplex.

Power Trip worked slowly and steadily, playing gigs for 10 years. Ibanez combined performing with the band with completing his education, majoring in marketing in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business.

"There are definitely things from my classwork I can apply to being in a band," he says. "It's essentially a business."

Although Ibanez was attending one of the nation's best music schools, he didn't see his guitar playing from an academic perspective. He took lessons as a kid, but mostly taught himself how to play and developed an ear for music.

But Gale's UNT education did show in his writing. Although metal has a reputation for its anti-mainstream attitude, Gale was an English major who read authors such as philosopher Michel Foucault.

"He was very intelligent when it came to writing," Ibanez says. "He represented a lot of things that are missing in the metal scene."

Ibanez noted that Gale didn't lecture people in his songs.

"There was a punk-ness and attitude in there, but a friend once described it as 'smart anger,'" Ibanez says. "He was able to convey those messages in a way average people could understand."

The band began to take off around Ibanez's senior year. But he was determined to earn his degree, and skipped a U.S. tour that spring.

Power Trip's 2017 album, Nightmare Logic, won them attention. They were touring with Trivium, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Exodus, Obituary and Cannibal Corpse, and those bands' fans were discovering them. Gale even worked with rapper Ice-T, who has his own metal band, Body Count.

Although the pandemic and Gale's death have changed things, the band still wants to stick together.

"For the four of us, this is all we know," Ibanez says. "We love doing what we do."

And now the band has earned the Grammy nomination.

"We're very honored and grateful to be nominated," Ibanez says. "It makes all of us proud to put DFW and UNT on the map. Even if we don't win, we get to say 'Grammy nominated' and that's cool."


Published by Jessica DeLeón in UNT North Texan Fall 2020


Bob Hampton ('78)

Bob Hampton, ’78 UNT MBA graduate, became the inaugural member of the newly formed Dean’s Circle of Excellence with a 5-year commitment to the college.

Hampton’s support came after a recent visit, prompted by Director of Development Mike Farrell. “Even though I live in Fort Worth, it had been decades since I had been on the UNT campus. When Mike Farrell reached out to invite me to visit, I was blown away by the growth and quality of the physical plant, not to mention the diversity of the student body.”

Hampton saw the growth of the college and the students that it impacted as an opportunity.

“The fact that many of the students represent the first of their family to go to college was impactful. I feel like it is important to encourage this and to provide them with a top-flight education experience, which UNT provides.”

As a member of the Dean’s Circle of Excellence, Hampton’s support assists the Dean’s top priorities to ensure institutional excellence at the G. Brint Ryan College of Business—supporting initiatives such as student scholarships, programming, data and software, and marketing and branding. To learn how you can join this circle of changemakers, visit:


VC Connect grows big ideas through impactful connections

Interested in helping UNT students and alumni get their big ideas off the ground? VC Connect is an opportunity for our investor community to connect with and support UNT-affiliated early stage ventures. This online portal allows investors confidential access to key information about companies that are actively seeking capital and an ability to connect with those companies they would like to meet.

Investors are able to explore various start-ups within VC Connect and filter companies by round size, vertical, location and university affiliation.

Start-ups worth mentioning include Vien Heath, founded by UNT computer engineering alum Gersom Adu (’19), Bunch Bikes, founded by UNT music education alum Aaron Powell (’11), and 3GStrong, founded by UNT alumna Kelly Starnes (’97).

Learn more about these companies, and other UNT-affiliated start-ups to invest in, at:


Accounting program earns top ranking

UNT made the list of top accounting schools in the state, according to Best Value Schools.

Earning a spot at number seven, UNT was ranked from a methodology based on tuition cost, enrollment, and student-teacher ratio—placing it above schools such as The University of Houston (#8), Southern Methodist University (#12), and Trinity University (#14).

This honor joins the other prestigious ranks of UNT’s accounting program, including 17th undergraduate program in the nation for schools of similar faculty size, 12th accounting program in the west, and 33rd doctoral program in the nation, according to the Public Accounting Report.

The graduate accounting and taxation program also ranks first in Texas by and the master's in taxation program ranked fourth in nation for value by


Three alumni to be honored at annual college gala

Three UNT G. Brint Ryan College of Business alumni will be honored this spring at the college’s annual gala. The gala, scheduled for April 9, will recognize both students and alumni for their outstanding achievements, innovation and leadership.

Mr. G. Brint Ryan (’88, ’88 MS) and Mr. Wilson Jones (’85) will both be inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame, the most prestigious honor conferred by the college. Hall of Fame recipients are vetted and selected for their professional achievements that have merited the honor and praise of their peers and colleagues. In addition to Ryan and Jones, Ms. Jessica Sabedra (’16) will also be honored with the college’s Rising Star award. The Rising Star award serves to recognize a recent alum that has shown exceptional growth in their profession, as well as a strong potential for future successes.


HR Collaborative hosts discussion on the automated future of human resources

Joel Philo, PhD, principal behavioral scientist for Infor, joined UNT’s HR Collaborative virtual event on February 25. With twenty years of HR leadership and consulting experience, Philo offered insights on artificial intelligence (AI) as it pertains to human resources.

Participants learned how HR can “supercharge” the talent cycle—automating mundane tasks to enable quality hiring with little oversight.

“It’s almost like magic for what you can do in the future,” explained Philo. “We need to help our leaders find and align people for jobs that don’t yet exist, using new technology.”

Philo also warned that while AI can be a powerful, efficient tool, it is not without fault. “Data can be misleading… you need to know your basic statistics at the very least,” cautioned Philo.

You can watch the recording of the virtual event, by visiting:

Business Conversations: an inside look at the energy industry with Chad Thompson

General Manager HR of North America Exploration and Production for Chevron Corporation, Chad Thompson, and the college’s Director of the Institute of Petroleum Accounting, Dr. Akhil Kumar, join Business Conversations to discuss the energy industry. 

In his current role, Chad provides guidance and leadership in all areas of People Strategy and Talent Management to the OPCO president and leadership team and Business unit HR Managers. The team’s vision is to ensure that Chevron has the right people with the right skills in the right places at the right time to deliver the Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production business plan.

Tune in to hear what Thompson has to say and listen to other Business Conversations episodes for featured expert opinions on relevant news affecting today's business world.




The McNatt Emergency Fund was established in 2019 by Jim ('66) and Linda McNatt to provide Ryan College of Business students facing financial crisis with the necessary funding to keep them enrolled and progressing toward their degree. Awards as large as $3,000 are granted to students to alleviate the financial stress they may be facing. 


A $5,000 gift will support UNT's presidential initiative to provide financial support to students who have immediate and pressing needs related to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Funds will fulfill short-term needs and help students achieve their long-term educational objectives.


The Dean’s Excellence Fund also provides immediate, essential support to our students. This fund serves as a vital resource to help our students and campus respond to opportunities and challenges as they occur. When you support the Dean’s Excellence Fund, you support the strategic vision of the college by allowing the Dean to have flexibility in directing the use of resources to the priorities of the college during this difficult time.




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