UNLV President Smatresk discusses his departure - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

UNLV President Smatresk discusses his departure

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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) -

UNLV President Neal Smatresk is confident the school will thrive in his absence, further developing the programs he launched and spearheading new ones.

Smatresk earlier this week confirmed he is the only finalist to head up the University of North Texas. All that remains is formalities.

The news came as a bit of a shock. Smatresk signed a contract with UNLV in June. The Texas native said his decision came down to family.

"I wish I could control the timing of these things but when you get a chance to put your professional skills, a great opportunity and your family life all in one place, it's really irresistible," Smatresk said.

Smatresk is leaving UNLV after the school weathered a severe storm of budget cuts.

In his time at the university, Smatresk developed a record-breaking $537 million fundraising campaign. He considers getting the community behind the school in order to grow the economy his greatest accomplishment.

"I think the community now realizes that this university is an investment, not a cost," he said. "The [Las Vegas] Chamber [of Commerce] gets it, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance gets it and the support for UNLV has never been stronger."

Smatresk admitted he's leaving behind unfinished projects, particularly the UNLV Now Stadium and a planned medical school.

"I know it's kinda sad to start something and get it off the ground and not see it come to closure," he said.

While Smatresk didn't suggest anyone to be his successor, he did express confidence in his team.

"I will say unabashedly that I have a great deal of confidence in my executive vice president and provost. I think the whole team is strong," he said. "The leadership team is here, ready to keep all the initiatives moving and make them successful."

The University of North Texas is expected to finalize Smatresk as president on Dec. 12. Until then, he will remain president of UNLV and the particulars of his contract have yet to be ironed out.

Provost John White will be the officer in charge upon Smatresk's departure.

Gov. Brian Sandoval on Friday issued the following statement concerning Smatresk's resignation:

"I thank Dr. Smatresk for his work at UNLV. Neal has led UNLV through a great expansion, including helping to establish UNLV's Brookings Mountain West. His work has made southern Nevada stronger and helped increase opportunities for our state's students. I wish Neal the best in his next endeavor and I am confident that his successor will continue to build upon the strides Neal has helped our community make."

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