Office of the President

Office of the President

President Smatresk Bio

16th president of the University of North Texas, the nation's 25th largest university

President Neal J. Smatresk (pronounced SMAH tresk) became UNT's 16th president on Feb. 3, 2014, marking his second university presidency. A dynamic, engaging leader with nearly 35 years of experience in higher education, President Smatresk is known for steering universities to national prominence by providing quality, affordable education, expanding research and innovation, and building strong community partnerships.

A biologist and researcher by training, President Smatresk also has devoted much of his career to supporting K-20 science outreach programs, STEM development and teacher professional development.

President Smatresk leads UNT at a time of record enrollment and notable gains across the board.

  • UNT has been named one of America's 100 Best College Buys® for 19 consecutive years, a ranking based on having a high-achieving freshman class and affordable tuition.
  • The Princeton Review continually names UNT as a Best in the West school.
  • Forbes continually lists UNT as a Best University on its Top Colleges list.

UNT’s distinguished faculty includes internationally recognized researchers and scholars as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and two members of the National Academy of Inventors. The university raised its athletic profile when the Mean Green became the Heart of Dallas Bowl football champions during its inaugural season in Conference USA in 2013-14, just two years after UNT opened its first-of-its-kind green Apogee Stadium.

Located in one of the nation's largest, fastest-growing metropolitan areas, UNT is home to 36,000 students and more than 200 degree programs. Founded in 1890, the university is now the nation's 25th largest university and the largest, most comprehensive university in the North Texas region. UNT graduated 8,000 students last year who joined UNT's network of 377,000 alumni.

Before joining UNT, President Smatresk led the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as president for more than four years and provost for two years. He helped UNLV become one of the nation's most popular universities among students and an essential resource in one of the country's fastest-growing cities. 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.

Prior to UNLV, President Smatresk was vice chancellor for academic affairs and deputy to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa from 2004 to 2007. During his tenure, Manoa entered the ranks of the top 25 federally funded institutions, gained three National Academy of Sciences members, and received recognition from the Chinese Ministry of Education as a Confucius Institute -- an honor shared by only 11 other U.S. institutions.

President Smatresk started his academic career at the University of Texas at Arlington and spent 22 years there, serving as:

  • Dean of Science, 1998 to 2004
  • Chair of the Department of Biology, 1994 to 1998
  • Professor of Biology, 1982 to 2004

As a biologist, he concentrated his research on gaining a better understanding of how the respiratory neurobiology of vertebrates changed in the evolutionary transition from water to air breathing. His research has garnered substantial grant support and has resulted in more than 50 papers and book chapters, and grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. President Smatresk also has received a number of teaching awards. His undergraduate alma mater, Gettysburg College, awarded him a Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award in 2011.

President Smatresk's academic background:

  • B.A., Biology, Gettysburg College, 1973
  • M.A., Biology, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1978
  • Ph.D., Zoology, University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas Marine Laboratory, 1980
  • Post-doctoral Trainee, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 1980-1982