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University of North Texas System chancellor retiring after 15 years

During Lee Jackson's tenure, the UNT system expanded from two campuses to four, and as of last fall, more than 40,000 students were enrolled there.

UNT System Chancellor Lee Jackson.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. 

University of North Texas System Chancellor Lee Jackson will retire at the end of 2017 after 15 years on the job.

Jackson, a former Dallas County judge, was appointed in 2002 by the university system's board of regents after then-Chancellor Alfred Hurley announced he was stepping down.

During Jackson's tenure, the UNT system expanded from two campuses to four, and as of last fall, more than 40,000 students were enrolled there. 

"It has been a great privilege to lead the UNT System team, our board and our three campuses in service to the North Texas region," Jackson said in a statement Thursday announcing his retirement. "I have especially enjoyed the energy and excitement that come from a constant flow of students striving for success in a growing region." 

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings congratulated Jackson and thanked him for his service in a statement Thursday, saying Jackson has been a “thoughtful and respected elected official and university leader” in the North Texas community for more than 40 years.

Prior to becoming the system’s chancellor, Jackson was a Dallas County judge for 15 years, with stints in the Texas House of Representatives and the Dallas city manager's office before that.

Born in Austin, Jackson graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s in political science. He earned a master’s in public administration from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The search for Jackson’s successor will begin immediately, and a new chancellor will be announced in the coming months, the system said. Jackson’s contract with UNT ends at the end of August, but he will continue serving until his replacement is named.

Read more of the Tribune’s UNT coverage:

  • The University of North Texas is exploring becoming an exclusive higher education partner with the Dallas Cowboys football team, an unusual deal that could include sponsorship opportunities and student internships
  • The University of North Texas at Dallas wants to be a different kind of law school. But could the system that it hopes to change bring it down before it fully gets up and running?  
  • According to a state auditor's report released in 2014, the University of North Texas should pay the state at least $75.6 million over the next 10 years as repayment for funding it should not have received.

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