In letter, UNLV pres. cites family for interest in TX job - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

In letter, UNLV pres. cites family for interest in TX job

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University of Nevada, Las Vegas President Neal Smatresk, testifies for passage of SB501 as Chairman James Dean Leavitt and Attorney Mark Fiorentino look on June 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Lisa J. Tolda) University of Nevada, Las Vegas President Neal Smatresk, testifies for passage of SB501 as Chairman James Dean Leavitt and Attorney Mark Fiorentino look on June 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Lisa J. Tolda)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

In a letter obtained by FOX5, UNLV President Neal Smatresk cited his family as the primary reason for his interest in the same job at a Texas university.

Kevin Page, chairman of the Nevada Board of Regents told FOX5's Azenith Smith on Wednesday that Smatresk recently interviewed for the job of president at the University of North Texas, and was a finalist for the job.

After a meeting of North Texas' Board of Regents on Wednesday, the school released a statement saying the board settled on Smatresk as its choice to fill the vacancy left by its exiting president.

"Dr. Smatresk has an impressive and distinguished record as president of UNLV, and we are pleased that he is ready to lead UNT at a time when it is expanding in both excellence and size," said North Texas Board of Regents Chairman G. Brint Ryan.

Smatresk's contract with UNLV was renewed in June for four years and a base salary of $246,426.84. However, when the opportunity at North Texas arose, he was encouraged to explore it, according to Smatresk's letter sent to the UNLV faculty Wednesday.

"Both of our children and our grandchild are in Texas," Smatresk wrote, "and with our son's growing family and our daughter's upcoming marriage, Texas has been pulling on our heartstrings."

In the letter, Smatresk said UNLV and North Texas are comparable in many ways including its student population, growth, research and it's importance to the economic strength of the region.

"Serving as UNT's president will allow me to combine an opportunity, the skills I have developed and our family life all in one place," Smatresk wrote.

Smatresk called leaving UNLV a bittersweet moment, saying he will miss the faculty students and community.

Wednesday's announcement began a 21-day waiting period, that is required by Texas law, before the board can officially appoint Smatresk to the position, according to North Texas's statement.

"Dr. Smatresk has an impressive and distinguished record as president of UNLV, and we are pleased that he is ready to lead UNT at a time when it is expanding in both excellence and size," said North Texas Board of Regents Chairman G. Brint Ryan.

Page said Smatresk's departure would be a great loss and sad day for UNLV, but he understands the decision. He said if Smatresk leaves, the board will meet and name a temporary president.

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