The University of North Texas System Board of Regents voted unanimously Dec. 12 to name Neal Smatresk as the university’s next president. Smatresk (pronounced SMAH-TRESK), 62, will succeed V. Lane Rawlins, who announced in March that he planned to retire at the end of 2013. Smatresk will begin his presidency Feb. 3, 2014, and Rawlins will continue in the role until that time.
Smatresk has served as president of the University of Nevada Las Vegas for four years. At UNLV, Smatresk emphasizes the importance of student access and success as well as research and innovation. Under his direction, UNLV completed a $537 million fundraising campaign that included creating the school’s largest active scholarship program, established an Academic Success Center to help students graduate on time, and opened Brookings Mountain West in partnership with the Brookings Institution.
At UNT, Smatresk will be charged with leading the university to build stronger community partnerships and strengthen its research, scholarship and artistic endeavors while continuing to expand the quality of its student body and faculty. “UNT is a strong and thriving institution. We hope to build our reputation as an emerging nationally prominent research institution and ensure that the good initiatives launched by past administrations continue to flourish. With additional input from our community, we will chart a course for how our great university can best serve Denton and the greater North Texas region,” Smatresk said. Smatresk grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and spent the first 25 years of his career in Texas, mostly at the University of Texas at Arlington. During his years at UTA, he served as a faculty member as well as chair of biology and dean of science. He also served as the chief academic officer for the University of Hawaii at Manoa before joining UNLV.
Smatresk earned a bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College, a master’s degree from State University of New York at Buffalo and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He conducted post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He has published more than 50 papers and book chapters about his research in cardiorespiratory physiology and has earned numerous grant awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. – Betty Dillard