Neal Smatresk, the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was named on Wednesday as the sole finalist to assume the presidency of the University of North Texas in Denton.

Smatresk will take over for current UNT President V. Lane Rawlins, who previously announced his intention to leave the post by the end of the year.

The recommendation of Smatresk by University of North Texas Chancellor Lee Jackson was approved by the UNT System regents on Wednesday. Texas law calls for a minimum 21-day waiting period before the new president can officially be confirmed by a board.

In a statement, G. Brint Ryan, the board's chairman, praised Smatresk for his "impressive and distinguished record as president of UNLV. ... We are pleased that he is ready to lead UNT at a time when it is expanding in both excellence and size."

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UNT is among a handful of emerging research universities in Texas vying to become the state's next tier-one university.

"Being part of UNT as it grows in reputation to one of our nation's top universities in research, scholarship and the arts is an incredible opportunity," Smatresk said in a statement.

The move to Texas will be a homecoming of sorts for Smatresk, a native of Arlington who previously served on the faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

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