From space exploration to transforming student’s lives, Lesa Roe is an accomplished, results-oriented leader with a rich history of breaking barriers and blazing trails.
Named Chancellor of the University of North Texas System in 2017 following 33 years of service and leadership at NASA, Chancellor Roe is the first woman to lead the UNT System. As the system’s Chief Executive Officer, she is responsible for all operational aspects of the multi-institution system, including general oversight of 10,000+ employees and the three UNT System campuses – the University of North Texas in Denton, the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth and the University of North Texas at Dallas.
As leader of the only university system based in the robust Dallas-Fort Worth Region, Chancellor Roe is committed to serving DFW, Texas and the nation by building a pipeline of career-ready graduates, while transforming lives and strengthening communities through education. Under Chancellor Roe’s leadership, the UNT System achieved record combined enrollment of more than 47,000 students in the fall of 2020 – despite the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the UNT System has set new records for philanthropic fundraising and research expenditures under Chancellor Roe.
The first in her family to graduate from college, Chancellor Roe deeply believes in the transformative power of education and is committed to nurturing diverse and inclusive communities of learning and discovery. More than half of the 47,000+ students across the UNT System’s three universities identify as minority, with UNT and UNT Dallas designated as Minority Serving Institutions by the U.S. Department of Education.
Chancellor Roe was named to the Dallas 500 most powerful business leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth by D CEO Magazine in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. As a board member for the Dallas Regional Chamber, Chancellor Roe chairs the chamber’s University CEO Council. She also serves as chair for the Texas Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC), and is a board member for the Dallas Citizens Council, Downtown Dallas Inc. and Space Dynamics Laboratory, as well as a trustee for the Southwest Research Institute.
Prior to her arrival in North Texas, Chancellor Roe served as Acting Deputy Administrator for NASA – capping her 33-year career in aerospace in a leadership role similar to that of a chief operating officer. In this role she was responsible for general oversight of 17,000 NASA employees and operation of 10 field centers across the nation. She also directed program and project teams on product/mission delivery, acquisition strategy, partnership and international strategy, and risk management.
During her tenure at NASA, Chancellor Roe became the first woman to serve as Director of NASA Langley Research Center. She also served as Manager of the International Space Station (ISS) Research Program at the Johnson Space Center and worked on 38 Space Shuttle and ISS missions in various leadership roles. Chancellor Roe’s leadership at NASA helped lead to numerous science, space, and aeronautics breakthrough innovations that advanced our nation’s leadership and international knowledge of aeronautics and space.
Chancellor Roe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida. She is married to Ralph Roe, NASA's Chief Engineer, and has two sons and a daughter.
Chancellor Roe’s many honors include:
- NASA Administrator Distinguished Service Medal (2017)
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics AIAA Fellow (2017)
- Senior Executive Service Presidential Distinguished Rank Award (2015)
- University of Central Florida Distinguished Alumni Award (2014)
- University of Florida’s Outstanding Leadership in Engineering Award (2012)
- Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Bridge Builder Award (2012)
- YWCA Women of Distinction in Science and Technology (2010)
- Women in Aerospace Leadership Award (2010)
- Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award (2006)
- University of Florida’s Distinguished Career Achievement Award (2006)
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2000)