UNT Presidents

Joshua Crittenden Chilton


The founding president, Chilton opened the private Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute on the second floor of a hardware store on the Denton square with 70 students and nine full courses. Under his leadership, the school erected its first building on its 10-acre campus west of town in 1891. Chilton supported opening the doors of higher education to women. He was a principal in Indiana before coming to Denton.

John Jackson Crumley


Crumley rescued the Texas Normal College from financial distress by convincing the Legislature to allow it to confer state teaching certificates. Because the school’s name was altered on the bill to North Texas Normal College, Crumley acquired a new charter under that name. He first joined the faculty to teach ancient languages and literature after serving as a principal at Pilot Point Institute.

Menter B. Terrill


Under Terrill, North Texas Normal College had its greatest financial success as a private college. He made faculty income dependent on tuition and, to boost enrollment, offered preparatory classes for a large number of students below the college level. He was president until the school became funded by the state in 1901. He previously taught at Terrill College, a school in Tennessee founded by his father.

J.S. Kendall


Kendall was the first person to hold the office of president after the school became a state institution — North Texas State Normal College. When he arrived, the college had an enrollment of about 500 students. He raised teacher preparation standards, and the Main Building was erected during his presidency. He was the state superintendent of public instruction for Texas before coming to Denton.

William Herschel Bruce


Eight major buildings were constructed during the time of “Dr. Bruce’s Normal,” including the Library Building (now Curry Hall), the Science Building and the Education Building. Previously a math professor at the school, he raised the standards for instruction and the qualifications for faculty. It was at his suggestion that the Legislature renamed the state normal colleges “teachers colleges.” The name changed to North Texas State Teachers College in 1923. Bruce also had served as president of Tarleton College.

Robert L. Marquis


A former faculty member at the college, Marquis led the institution through the Depression years. New structures during his tenure included the gazebo designed by O’Neil Ford. He developed plans for the first dormitory, which was named Marquis Hall in his memory when it opened in 1936. The college was admitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1925. Marquis previously served as president of Sul Ross State Normal College.

Weston Joseph McConnell


During McConnell’s presidency, the college grew from 1,800 to 5,000 students and added 26 major buildings. Graduate work was first offered in 1935, and the college was admitted to the Association of American Universities five years later. The name changed to North Texas State College in 1949. McConnell was an alumnus who had served as a faculty member since 1916 and later served as dean.

James Carl Matthews


As president, Matthews guided the college through its desegregation, beginning with the admission of the first African American graduate student in 1954 and undergraduate students in 1956. The college awarded its first doctorate in 1953 and became North Texas State University in 1961. Almost 15,000 students were enrolled when Matthews retired. An alumnus, he was the college’s first education dean and had served as director of the teacher demonstration school.

John Kamerick


The Faculty Senate was formed while Kamerick was president, and he also increased student participation in university governance. He changed the regulations for housing, expanding dorm hours and allowing women 22 and older to live off campus. He was previously vice president and provost at Kent State University.

John L. Carter

1970-1971, 1979-1980

Carter was called upon twice to serve as acting president of the university. He was a longtime vice president for fiscal affairs who also had served as chief accountant and comptroller. He was known across the state for his financial integrity.

Calvin Cleave ‘Jitter’ Nolen


During Nolen’s time as president, major construction projects included Wooten Hall, the Art Building, the General Academic Building and the expanded Union. The Coliseum opened in time for the 1973-74 basketball season. The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth was placed under Nolen’s direction in 1975. He previously served as vice chancellor for development at Texas Christian University.

Frank E. Vandiver


Vandiver was appointed the first chancellor of North Texas State University and the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in addition to serving as the university president. He was a nationally known military historian and award-winning author who had served as vice president, provost and acting president at Rice University.

Howard Wellington Smith Jr.


Smith served as ad interim chancellor and president after serving as associate vice president and vice president for academic affairs. He led the College of Education twice, as acting dean and as interim dean, and was the college’s first associate dean from 1969 to 1976. He was nationally recognized for his work in the improvement of teacher education and higher education.

Alfred Frances Hurley


Hurley served as chancellor and president, celebrating the name change to the University of North Texas in 1988 and the Centennial in 1990, which ushered in the first capital campaign. During his tenure, the Murchison Performing Arts Center was built, the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science was established, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine became the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth, and UNT Dallas got its start. Hurley was the UNT System’s first full-time chancellor from 2000 to 2002. A retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and noted military historian, he taught at the Air Force Academy before joining UNT.

Norval Pohl


As president, Pohl focused on UNT’s role as a public research university and oversaw the creation of Discovery Park and the College of Engineering. The Chemistry Building and new athletic facilities and residence halls were built during his tenure. He also helped build the recreation center that now bears his name. He joined UNT in 1999 as executive vice president and provost after serving as vice president for finance and administration at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Gretchen M. Bataille


The first woman to be president of UNT, Bataille founded the Emerald Eagle Scholars student success program and initiated the construction of what would become the Life Sciences Complex, Apogee Stadium and the Business Leadership Building. She helped move the university closer to its goal of becoming a national research university. Prior to joining UNT, she was the senior vice president for academic affairs for the University of North Carolina System and interim chancellor at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Philip C. Diebel


Diebel served the university for 26 years, working as controller, vice president for finance and business affairs and UNT System vice chancellor for finance. He came out of retirement to serve as interim president. He was recognized for his expertise in the state’s complex system of higher education funding.

V. Lane Rawlins


A three-time university president, Rawlins helped UNT grow as a public research university focused on offering the state’s best undergraduate educational experience and moving closer to the top tier. In his time as president and throughout his career, he focused on maintaining strong connections between world-class research and top-quality undergraduate education. Rawlins served as president of University of Memphis and Washington State University before leading UNT.

Neal J. Smatresk


Smatresk became UNT’s 16th president in 2014, marking his second university presidency. Smatresk is helping to steer UNT to national prominence by providing high-quality education, expanding research and innovation, and building strong partnerships with communities and industry. Before joining UNT, Smatresk led the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as president for more than four years and as provost for two years.