I-Team: Out-Going UNLV President Talks Highs and Lows of Administration
LAS VEGAS -- UNLV President Neal Smatresk is starting to say his goodbyes as he prepares to move to a new job in Texas.
Smatresk says leaving for Northern Texas University this December is bittersweet, but he feels it is time to come home.
"When you have a new grand baby and you have a family, my daughter is going to be married this summer," Smatresk said.
He guided UNLV through the recession, convincing state lawmakers not to cut the university's budget to the bone.
"Everyone always says university should run more like a business. We are a highly successful business, if you really want to analyze us this way. We return more to the state than any other agency in the state. We're a better investment than any other dollar that is spent in this state," he said.
Smatresk's biggest regret remains the years of delays and false starts on the UNLV stadium project. His greatest achievement, in his eyes, is convincing state education officials of the need to build a four-year medical school at UNLV. However, it will be his successor that will need to convince Carson City to fork over the cash.
Smatresk says his greatest surprise is the attention given to coaches instead of academic deans.
"If we had paid as much attention to what the quality of the incoming deans were, as we were for a football or a basketball coach, I know this institution would already be at least on a peer with Harvard or anybody else. The level of scrutiny over athletics is a conundrum," the out-going president said.
Smatresk also boasts of how UNLV is among the most welcoming campuses to the country's growing number of Hispanic students.
"US News calls us the sixth most diverse institution in the United States. I'm really proud of that part of our mission. I love the fact that UNLV has really obtained national prominence as an institution that opens doors and changes lives," Smatresk said.
Texas university regents need to approve Smatresk's new deal. If approved, Smatresk says his resignation letter will likely come December 12.
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