Don Retzlaff Retires from CSE Department after 35 Years

1978                                           2013
Don Retzlaff, Principal Lecturer in the Computer Science Department, has retired after teaching Computer Science for thirty-five years.

Don joined the Computer Science Department as a Lecturer after receiving his Masters Degree in Computer Science from North Texas State University (now UNT) back in 1978. Since that time, Don has taught a large variety of the undergraduate courses in the department. He is best known for developing several key courses in the department, including CSCE 4410 and 4420, the Software Development sequence where students write large-scale applications. He has also produced other courses, including the Computer Programming for Non-Majors (1020), Assembly Language Programming (2010), and most recently the Internet Programming Course (3420). His interest has always been in teaching programming languages, and throughout his tenure he has taught programming languages included FORTRAN, Pascal, C, C++, Java, and the most recent and his favorite, PHP. In recent years he authored the textbooks used in the 1020 and 1030 courses.

Don is also known in the department for developing many software-related tools to help with teaching courses, as well as other applications to assist the department itself. These include the WebCompiler environment and the ABET Course Assessment Management System. Don has been the departmentís webmaster since the department first had a web presence, also being one of the first departments in the university that had a website.

Don wishes to thank several Computer Science faculty members that have given him unrelenting encouragement throughout the years. These include (but arenít limited to) Dr. Jim Poirot, Dr. Denis Conrady, and Dr. Tom Irby. He also would like to thank his dad who always encouraged him in his various endeavors, no matter how odd they may have seemed at the time. Don feels blessed by the many friendships heís made, and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to teach such a wide variety of excellent students.

With his retirement, Don plans to continue developing code and writing books, something heís been interested in for many years. You can view a list of Don’s publications here. Don will still help produce the various student and alumni newsletters and maintain the department’s software tools. He is in the process of publishing on the web all of his course-related material that he has put together during his thirty-five years in the department. He will continue to be his family's historian and maintain the family website here. He also plans to travel extensively with his wife Elisa between doctor visits. The department has lost an important teaching asset, yet we wish Don well in his future endeavors.

You can see pictures of Don’s participation in the UNT Annual Service Recognition Awards celebrating his 35 years with UNT here. You can also see pictures of Don’s retirement party hosted by the Computer Science Department here.

Would you like to leave any comments or remarks to Don? Please use the form below to send your remarks:

Name:   Year Graduated:

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Previous Comments

July 7, 2014     Amanda J. Stiles    

I didn’t realize how much you contributed to my successful career,
until I saw the writeup in the UNT CSE newsletter, Spring 2014.

I took several classes from you while I was working toward my
undergrad degree in Computer Science.  At the time, there were
only 2 other women in the program.  This affected my studies
greatly, as I experienced bias’ and discouragement throughout.

I remember you for your desire to touch your students with your
knowledge, and never second guess a student’s ability to succeed,
in both class and career.  It appeared to never cross your mind to
neglect or pass over a single student.  I hope you realize how
invaluable this was to me.

You are my favorite, most inspiring professor, even though I
didn’t fully realize it until I came across the latest newsletter.

Congrats on your Retirement!  You certainly deserve it!

Thank you, Amanda Stiles

July 7, 2014     Kelley Shaw     Graduated: 1984    

Hi Don,

When I saw your picture in the CSE newsletter, it really brought back
some memories! I honestly don't recall if I ever took any classes from
you, but I remember you well. I worked in the "Microcomputer Lab" under
Susan Rulon's direction. I worked in the Lab for two years (1980-81).
I remember you helping set up the Lab and providing guidance to the Lab
workers.  The main thing I remember about you was your smile and your
positive attitude. I am so glad to see that you had a long, successful

Enjoy your retirement, Kelley Shaw

July 7, 2014     Clay Spinuzzi     Graduated: 1991     Courses taken: 4410 and 4420

I was a CS major at UNT from 1988-1991. I honestly don’t remember much
about the other CS profs (except for you and Dana Wyatt). But I remember
your classes really well: I took (and really enjoyed) at least three
classes from you, including the software development sequence. It was
there that I really started to think about the architecture of large
projects. I think that’s also about the time I started reading C
reference manuals for fun and pushing myself to learn other languages
such as LISP.

Although I didn’t stick with CS, I applied the lessons I’d learned
to other large-scale projects. It turns out that the basics of good
coding are also the basics of good technical documentation and good
research design.  I still use those basics every day.

Thanks again — you did great work at UNT, and I’m really blessed
to have been able to take your classes. CS

June 30, 2014     Chris Kee     Graduated: 2013     Courses taken: 3420 and 4410

I really enjoyed the 2 courses I took by you!  I was inspired and
challenged by your teaching and now after graduating I enjoy my new
career as a web programmer.  Glad to have had you as a professor!
Enjoy your time off of teaching! - Chris

June 30, 2014     Mo Elzubeir     Graduated: 2002     Courses taken: 4410 4420

It was my great pleasure to have been in your classes and I look
forward to seeing you publish books in the near future!

I often look back and appreciate the "just go out and get it done and
if you're stuck come in and ask" style you had.

Thank you for everything.