University of North Texas President Gretchen Bataille announced Wednesday that she will step down effective Feb. 28.
Bataille, 65, came to the university to become "a transformational leader," she said in a statement released by UNT.
"I saw a great opportunity to forge a clear direction for the university's future and to take it to new heights," Bataille said. "As a university community, we have made significant progress in many areas, including academics, arts, research, athletics and image and reputation."
Bataille could not be reached for comment Wednesday. She was named UNT's first female president in August 2006 and was inaugurated April 13, 2007. The UNT System board of regents is expected to accept her resignation at its two-day quarterly meeting, which begins today, according to a UNT statement. At that meeting, board members are expected to discuss an interim president and the search for a permanent president. Bataille's salary is $497,760 a year, officials said.
The 34,581-student university released a list of dozens of accomplishments during Bataille's tenure, including record enrollments, new academic and housing programs, new research buildings and plans for a $78 million football stadium.
Student body President Dakota Carter said Bataille's announcement comes as a shock. Carter, who met with Bataille every other week, ranked her among the best and most student-centered university presidents in the country. He said, for example, that students last fall were voting whether to allow same-sex couples to be named homecoming king and queen.
Bataille resisted any outside pressure, saying she would back whatever decision students made, Carter said. The referendum was defeated, 58 percent to 42 percent.
"She has the students' back on every initiative," Carter said. "She actually really cares about the students. I feel such a great sense of loss that this is even happening. This came out of nowhere."
Karen Weiller, chairwoman of UNT's faculty senate, called Bataille's resignation "a huge loss for the university." She cited Bataille's vision and drive to make UNT a national research university.
UNT is among seven state-designated "emerging" schools that officials believe have the best chance of becoming Texas' next Tier One or major institution.
Regents Chairman C. Dan Smith thanked Bataille for her leadership and service.
"As a board, we are committed to a smooth transition of leadership through a thorough and inclusive search for a new president -- someone who can maintain our momentum and continue to build a promising future for UNT," he said in a statement. "We're not going to let any grass grow under our feet during the presidential search process. The major projects that are under way will continue to move forward."
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