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Neal Smatresk

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Neal Smatresk

Deborah Hoddick

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Preceded by
Veldon Lane Rawlins, PhD

Preceded by
David Brian Ashley, PhD

Succeeded by
Leonard Michael Jessup, PhD

July 9, 1951 (age 72) New York (

Alma mater
Gettysburg, BA (1973) Buffalo, SUNY MA (1978) UT Austin, PhD (1980) Penn, post doc

University of Texas at Austin, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, Gettysburg College

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UNT State of the University 2018

Neal Joseph Smatresk, PhD (pronounced SMAH-tresk; born July 9, 1951 in New York), is an American academic research biologist, physiologist, and university president, who currently, as of September 27, 2017, is in his fourth year as the 16th President of the 127-year-old University of North Texas. Smatresk had previously served as President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a role he had held since August 6, 2009. At age sixty-six, Smatresk is in his thirty-sixth year as an academician in higher education ... fifty-five percent of his life. Twenty-five of those years have been spent in Texas.


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Executive roles in higher education

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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

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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.

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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.

Formal education

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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.

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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.


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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.

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Neal Smatresk Wikipedia