Dr. Neal J. Smatresk, UNLV President
Dr. Neal J. Smatresk was appointed president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Aug. 6, 2009. Today, he leads a campus that is committed to serving Nevada by creating an educated workforce and forging community and business partnerships to move our state economy forward. Under his leadership, the central role UNLV plays in creating a prosperous future by providing an affordable, superior education and nationally recognized scholarship has been a consistent theme.
Smatresk emphasizes UNLV’s role as a first-choice, Tier 1 institution dedicated to educational access and success for diverse students. Under Smatresk’s direction, UNLV established the Academic Success Center, which is living up to its name by helping students identify the right majors, succeed in their classes, and graduate on time. Student athletes are advised through the center, and are excelling academically.
UNLV is a collaborative university that crosses internal and external boundaries. A testament to Smatresk’s vision is a new Collaborative Research and Education initiative an UNLV’s partnership with the highly respected Brookings Institution to establish Brookings Mountain West, the national think tank’s first foray this side of the Mississippi.
Through a recently formed UNLV Campus Improvement Authority, Smatresk is working with the community through a public-private partnership to create a world-class stadium that will enhance campus life and bring new major entertainment opportunities to Las Vegas. Through these and other community partnerships, and a commitment to respond to the state’s workforce demands, UNLV is driving research and innovation needed to diversify the region’s economic base and provide critically needed services for a dynamic region.
Smatresk is a scientist by training and received his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980. Following post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Smatresk joined the University of Texas, Arlington (UTA) department of biology in 1982. In his 22 years at UTA, he served as chair of biology and dean of science, until his appointment as the chief academic officer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2004. During his time there, Hawaii’s flagship university entered the ranks of the top 25 federally funded institutions, gained three National Academy of Science members, and received recognition from the Chinese Ministry of Education as a Confucius Institute. His career at UNLV began in 2007 as executive vice president and provost, where he was responsible for the leadership and administration of all academic and research programs, spanning 15 colleges and two professional schools.
President Smatresk has received numerous teaching awards, and his research in cardio respiratory physiology has resulted in more than 50 papers and book chapters and grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. His undergraduate alma mater, Gettysburg College, awarded him its Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award in 2011.