Dr. Scott K. Simpkins (1958-2010) was a professor at UNT. He died suddenly on the 19th of September 2010.


Simpkins would identify this picture of himself in the 80s with dyed black hair as possibly the only time he was 'cool'.

He was born on April 27, 1958 in Kenosha, WI,  the son of Roger and Betty (Hecker) Simpkins. He attended local schools, and was a 1976 graduate of Tremper High School. During his high school and early college days, Scott flipped burgers at The Spot Drive-in, in Kenosha.  

Simpkins originally enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, with the goal of becoming a Game Warden. However, changed his career path to English and Journalism. Simpkins earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, a master’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and a doctorate in English from the University of Tulsa. After graduation from Tulsa, Simpkins was an Associate Professor of English at South Dakota State University, located in Brookings, SD. He started working at UNT in 1989, and remained there until his death in 2010.

Scott's sense of humor existed his entire life.  Upon his arrival at UW-Eau Claire, he was hired as a writer for the school newspaper. One of his first assignments was to cover a story on the mayor of Eau Claire, and his view on a few situations that occurred at the university.  Scott's first piece of advice from the editor in chief, was to dress to the level of the audience that you are interviewing.   So, Scott showed up at City Hall in a clown outhit that he purchased from Goodwill. Needless to say, we was fired as a reporter from the student newspaper.  

He would often ask that his students clap for him when he entered or exited a room.

He once received anonymous feedback from a student saying he wasn't cool. He agreed with this, and afterwards forewarned his students that he wasn't cool, and that a picture (shown right) of him from the 80s was probably the only time he came close to cool.

He would hand out stickers at the end of the semester that said things like "I had a class with Scott Simpkins, and all I got was this lousy sticker".

An enthusiastic supporter of the local arts and music scene, Scott could almost always be found after dark at one of the area live music venues, taking in the sounds and people-watching. He got a kick out of teaching some of his courses in the Visual Arts building because it gave him the opportunity to check out new artwork (along with the occasional nude model posing for a life drawing class.)

Scott was also an active citizen. He was committed to the cause of justice for all, and he really lived that in his speech and actions. He wrote letters fairly regularly to the editor of the Denton Record Chronicle, chiming in on issues of social justice in the local community and often out-witting in 100 words or less, the writers whose lengthy features he criticized. He participated in peace rallies; he reminded everyone that he was precisely what a feminist looked like; he was a friend to queers, subversives, and others who fell outside of the mainstream. Whenever talking about heterosexual relationships, he made sure to specify that he was talking about a heterosexual one, so as to not prioritize one lifestyle over another.

Despite his heady pursuits, Scott Simpkins was well-known for his appreciation of the simple pleasure of being outdoors. Bicycling, holding his classes outside, gardening, and most especially fishing — he loved to be outside in nature!


Simpkins was famously distinguished for wearing shorts most of the time.

He was the author of Literary Semiotics: A Critical Approach, published in 2001, and edited several volumes of the annual publication, Semiotics. From 1993 to 2003, he edited Studies in the Novel. He wrote nearly 40 published articles and advised countless doctoral students in the planning, research, and publication of their dissertations.


Simpkins died unexpectedly on Sunday, September 19, 2010.



2010-09-30 12:17:14   One class he figured out how to use a web cam, and spent the whole class wandering around the room, letting the webcam follow him, and project a distorted image of him onto the big screen. He felt this could lead to future lessons in which he could stay at home and teach from there. —Users/RitchLudlow

2010-10-01 21:26:56   I think this bears adding, even though it didn't happen in Texas. During Scott's first gig at South Dakota State University several of us were hanging out late one night at his apartment when out of nowhere he said "I think I need a nickname. What do you think of Snake?" Of course, he was Snake from that point forward. The first time I saw the "Scott is cool" picture I told him "Now, *that's* Snake."

Thanks for your work, dentonwiki. —

2010-11-01 10:01:07   One of Scott's priorities upon moving to Texas was to obtain his concealed handgun license, "just because he could." He delighted in both the phrase and the act of "packing heat." —

2011-04-09 12:43:27   I took that photo of Scott after he dyed his hair black! He thought it would be a lovely birthday surprise for me, but had no idea how complex dying one's hair can be. It took him hours. Stood up on my birthday, I was a little nonplussed to see the new hair color. But it got him out of attending my brother's wedding a week later in Knoxville, so it wasn't all for naught, according to Scott. Good times. — Ann Thomas Hartzell, Savannah, GA (