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 February 3, 2014, and Rawlins will continue in the role until that time.
"It is an incredible privilege to be selected as the next president of the University of North Texas. My wife Debbie and I are excited about returning to Texas and becoming members of the UNT community," Smatresk said. "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 was joined by his family at the board meeting in Denton this morning, and he and his family will meet with the UNT community during an open reception from 4 to 5:30 this afternoon in the UNT Gateway Center.
Smatresk will join UNT after serving as president of the University of Nevada Las Vegas for four years. He has led UNLV to become one of the nation's most popular universities among students and an essential resource in one of the country's fastest-growing cities.
UNT System Chancellor Lee Jackson said Smatresk's appointment is exciting for the future of UNT. "The experience that Dr. Smatresk has in leading a university that is in many ways similar to UNT combined with his knowledge of our region and state are a powerful combination. UNT is critical to the intellectual and economic development of our state, and is committed to expanding its influence in the coming years."
Founded in 1890, UNT has more than 336,000 alumni and today is the choice of 36,000 students. Home to the largest Honors College in the region, UNT's recent growth has been centered on serving more academically talented students while welcoming some of the nation's brightest faculty members to its ranks, including three members of the national academies.
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 UNLV'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 prestigious 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.
As the nation's 24th largest public university, UNT is growing as a nationally recognized university that is committed to offering the best undergraduate educational experience in Texas. UNT graduated 8,400 students last year from its 12 colleges and schools and offers 97 bachelor's, 81 master's and 35 doctoral degree programs, many nationally and internationally recognized.
While Smatresk grew up in Buffalo, New York, he 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.
A biologist, Smatresk holds 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 many highly competitive grant awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.