Nov. 13: Nominee for UNT presidency seen as expert in expanding research

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

By Diane Smith

DENTON -- A focused leadership style and experience bringing research prominence to Washington State University are among the reasons V. Lane Rawlins is being tapped as the next president of the University of North Texas.

Today, the UNT System Board of Regents approved Rawlins' nomination as sole finalist for the position. The nomination is expected to be confirmed next month.

Rawlins, 72, was lured out of retirement because he wants to lead UNT's efforts to attain Tier One status. He said he has also connected with the UNT community and students since taking over as interim president in May.

"We enjoy being here," Rawlins told the regents. "We enjoy the work."

After his nomination was approved, he jokingly told regents he would allude to his age just once _ to explain that this is "a rare opportunity."

If approved, Rawlins would succeed Gretchen Bataille, who resigned in February, to become the school's 15th president.

Rawlins is described as having a strong record of attracting top research to universities. He is credited with strengthening Washington State's reputation as a leading public research university.

"He will help our campus focus its academic plans, research goals, facility needs and student enrollment strategy," said Chancellor Lee Jackson, who presented Rawlins' nomination for the job.

Rawlins said he has been laying the groundwork to build UNT's engineering and science programs _ a requirement to attract top research faculty and graduate students.

"It's not a cookie cutter concept," Rawlins said, explaining that growth has to occur while keeping UNT's other well-established programs strong.

Rawlins said there is no target date for UNT to gain Tier One status because it is a process that includes outside forces. For example, hiring faculty requires preparing for the arrival of grants and lab students. The recruited faculty must in the meantime close labs at previous campuses.

UNT has already hired about 12 senior professors and aims to hire a dozen more in coming months, Rawlins said. The university is also working to get legislative support for a $100 million research facility.

Under Texas law, the board has to wait a minimum 21 days before regents can vote to officially appoint Rawlins to the UNT presidency. He also served as president at the University of Memphis and as vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Alabama system.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675

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