Neal Smatresk

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Neal Smatresk
16th President of the
University of North Texas
Assumed office
February 3, 2014
Preceded by Veldon Lane Rawlins, PhD
9th President of the
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
In office
August 6, 2009 – January 2014
Preceded by David Brian Ashley, PhD
Succeeded by Leonard Michael Jessup, PhD
Personal details
Born (1951-07-09) July 9, 1951 (age 65)
New York[clarification needed], U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Deborah Ann (née Hoddick)
(married for thirty-eight years)
Alma mater Gettysburg, BA (1973)
Buffalo, SUNY MA (1978)
UT Austin, PhD (1980)
Penn, post doc

Neal Joseph Smatresk, PhD (pronounced SMAH-tresk;[1] born July 9, 1951 in New York[clarification needed]), is an American academic research biologist, physiologist, and university president, who currently, as of May 23, 2017, is in his fourth year as the 16th President of the 126-year-old University of North Texas.[2] Smatresk had previously served as President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a role he had held since August 6, 2009.[3] At age sixty-five, Smatresk is in his thirty-fifth year as an academician in higher education ... fifty-four percent of his life. Twenty-five of those years have been spent in Texas.


Executive roles in higher education[edit]

From 2004 to 2007, Smatresk served at the University of Hawaii at Manoa as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (aka Chief Academic Officer). From 2007 to 2009, Smatresk served at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as Executive Vice President and Provost. Then on July 10, 2009, Smatresk stepped-in as Acting President, and on August 6, 2009, he became President. Smatresk has been President of the University of North Texas since February 3, 2014.

Academic research and teaching[edit]

In 1979, Smatresk participated in a research expedition of alpha helix in Micronesia under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. From 1980 to 1982, Smatresk was a National Institutes of Health trainee at University Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. From 1982 to 2004, he served on the faculty at The University of Texas at Arlington — from 1982 to 1988, he was Assistant Professor of Biology, from 1988 to 1994, he was Associate Professor of Biology, from 1994 to 1998, he was Chairman of the Biology Department, and from 1998 to 2004, he was Dean of Science. While at UT Arlington, Smatresk chiefly researched how respiratory neurobiology of vertebrates changes during the evolutionary transition from aquatic breathing to aerial breathing.[4]

Smatresk has published over 50 papers and book chapters in the field of marine biology and cardiorespiratory physiology and has won grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.[5]

Formal education[edit]

Smatresk earned a high school diploma from Kenmore West Senior High School, Tonawanda, New York (1969). He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Gettysburg College (1973; awarded Distinguished Alumnus in 2011). He then earned a Master of Arts degree in biology from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (1978). And finally, he earned a PhD in zoology and marine science from the University of Texas at Austin through its Marine Science Institute at Port Aransas (1980). Smatresk did postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.[6][7]

Smatresk's extracurricular activities in high school included interscholastic sports, namely track and field — the high jump. Smatresk sang in the Kenmore High School and Gettysburg College choirs, the latter of which toured every year. In December 1970, Smatresk performed with the Gettysburg College Choir at the White House for President Richard Nixon.[8]


The surname Smatresk is Finland Swedish. Smatresk's paternal grandparents, Joseph Henry Smatresk (1887–1971) and Ellen Louise (née Gustafson; 1891–1964) immigrated to the United States from Finland — Joseph in 1905 and Ellen in 1893. After marrying in Washington, New York, in 1912, his grandparents settled in West Rutland. The native language for both sets of grandparents was Swedish.


  1. ^ "Quick Guide to Pronouncing 'Smatresk,' Last Name of the New UNLV President," by Emily Richmond, Las Vegas Sun, August 19, 2009
  2. ^ "Popular UNLV President Neal Smatresk Named Sole Finalist for University of North Texas Job," by Paul Takahashi, Las Vegas Sun, distributed by McClatchy – Tribune Business News, November 20, 2013
  3. ^ Lake, Richard (July 10, 2009). "Ashley's contract not renewed; Smatresk is now the acting president". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  4. ^ Alumni Awards — Neal J. Smatresk ’73, Gettysburg (Gettysburg College alumni magazine), Summer 2011
  5. ^ "Neal Smatresk's bio," Office of the President (, University of North Texas (retrieved January 15, 2015)
  6. ^ American Men and Women of Science, Smatresk is in Vol. 6 (all listed editions have 8 volumes) ISSN 0192-8570
  7. ^ Marquis Who's Who OCLC 4779221853

    Who's Who in America, Smatresk is in Vol. 2 (all listed editions have 3 volumes)

    Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare, 1st edition, 1996–1997 (1997) OCLC 38070224; ISSN 0000-1708
    Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 23rd edition, 1993–1994 (1993) OCLC 27942179
    Who's Who in the World, 17th edition, 2000 (1999) OCLC 43606896

  8. ^ "Local Student Sings at White House With College Choir," Tonawanda News, December 31, 1970, Col. 2

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
David Ashley
President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
August 6, 2009 – November 2013
Succeeded by
Len Jessup
Preceded by
Veldon Lane Rawlins
President of the University of North Texas
February 3, 2014–present