UNT System Chancellor Lee F. Jackson announces retirement plans

Lee JacksonUniversity of North Texas System Chancellor Lee F. Jackson today announced plans to retire before the end of 2017 from a position he has held for 15 years. Jackson, the second Chancellor in UNT System history, is currently the longest-serving university system chancellor in the State of Texas and has guided UNTS and its three universities through a period of unprecedented growth since being appointed by its Board of Regents in 2002.

“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. “I have especially enjoyed the energy and excitement that come from a constant flow of students striving for success in a growing region.  Today our three UNT campuses have more than 43,000 students and award more than 9,000 degrees each year. I have been fortunate to work with a visionary Board, as well as committed campus and community partners in Denton, Fort Worth, and Dallas.  I’ve had tremendous help from UNT alumni and supporters, elected officials in the region, and my colleagues in the UNT System.”

Prior to Jackson’s arrival in 2002, the UNT System was made up of two universities – University of North Texas in Denton and University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth – with total system enrollment at the time of less than 28,000, while awarding just under 5,000 degrees annually. But as the population base in DFW grew from 5 million to more than 7 million during Jackson’s 15 years of service, so has the UNT System – adding a new university in southern Dallas County (UNT Dallas) that is the first public university located in Dallas city limits, as well as many new degree programs and professional programs in engineering, law, pharmacy and medicine.

“Lee Jackson has been the right leader at the right time for the UNT System during a period of tremendous growth,” said G. Brint Ryan, Chairman of the UNTS Board of Regents. “Lee has taken our System to new levels of visibility and activity, and the Board of Regents and I are deeply appreciative of his dedicated and successful service.”

Ryan and the UNT System Board will develop a search process immediately, review candidates, and plan to name a new Chancellor in coming months. Jackson’s current contract runs through August 31, 2017 but he will remain in his position until the arrival and transition of his successor.

The son of two UNT graduates, Jackson was appointed Chancellor of the UNT System in August, 2002, following 15 years as Dallas County Judge. He began his career working as an assistant to the Dallas City Manager and won honors during ten years of service in the Texas House of Representative.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings thanked Jackson for his long-standing commitment to the North Texas region as a public official, saying “Lee Jackson has been a thoughtful and respected elected official and university leader in this community for more than four decades, and I look forward to working with him in whatever he does next in his career. I’m sure Lee will remain active in the Dallas area and I congratulate him for all he has accomplished.”

Under Jackson’s leadership, the UNT System:

  • Raised UNT’s 4-year graduation rate from 13% in 2001 to 29.1% in 2015*, an increase of 124%. UNT’s 5-year graduation rate rose from 29.5% to 46% in that same period, a 56% increase;
  • Grew the number of System-wide degrees awarded from 4,968 in 2001 to 9,200 in 2015*;
  • Raised System-wide annual research investment from $28,476,235 in 2001 to $68,421,831 in 2015*;
  • Created new programs in engineering, law, pharmacy, and medicine;
  • Established a new public university at UNT Dallas;
  • Achieved recognition for UNT as one of Texas’ Emerging Research Universities and achieved the highest designation of research-intensive universities from the Carnegie Endowment;
  • Started a new teaching center, UNT New College in Frisco;
  • Elevated standards for attractive building designs and visionary campus master plans;
  • Acquired property in downtown Dallas to house UNT System Administration, the UNT Dallas College of Law, UNT Art on Main, and other teaching programs; and
  • Recruited top higher education professionals for a talented leadership team that provides many of the non-academic and planning services to all three UNT System campuses.

*Most Recent Data Available

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