- Higher Education
- Economic Development
- Cardiorespiratory Physiology
- STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Dr. Neal J. Smatresk was appointed president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Aug. 6, 2009 after serving two years as executive vice president and provost.
As president, Smatresk emphasizes how vitally important UNLV is to improving educational access and success for diverse students, spurring the research and innovation needed for diversification of Southern Nevada’s economic base, and supplying both an educated work force and critically needed services for the community and region.
A testament to his vision is 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. UNLV also completed a record-breaking $537 million fundraising campaign, with Smatresk and his leadership team garnering a $12.6 million donation from the Engelstad Family Foundation to support the largest active scholarship program in the university's history.
UNLV also established the Academic Success Center, which is living up to its name by helping students find the right majors, succeed in their classes, and graduate on time.
A scientist by training, Smatresk has long been a champion of kindergarten-to-doctorate science outreach efforts and of teacher professional development initiatives. He has participated in a number of programs that focus on career development in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Smatresk 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 later dean of science, until his appointment as the chief academic officer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2004.
Smatresk has received numerous teaching awards, and his research in cardiorespiratory physiology has resulted in more than 50 papers and book chapters as well as highly competitive grant awards 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.