The University of North Texas System Board of Regents voted unanimously today to confirm Dallas County Judge and former Texas legislator Lee Jackson as the UNT System's third chancellor.
Jackson will begin working in the UNT System offices, located in the Gateway Center on the UNT Denton campus, on August 21. However, he will not be vested with the formal authority of the position of chancellor until September 1, the day after current Chancellor Alfred Hurley officially steps down.
The UNT Regents, acting as a search selection committee, selected Jackson from a diverse pool of candidates recommended by an advisory committee comprising students, faculty and staff of the system's component institutions and community representatives.
Announcing Jackson's appointment and the approval of his three-year employment contract, UNT Regents Chair Bobby Ray said, "What a great day this is. We've met an important milestone in our system's history by appointing Lee Jackson as our new chancellor.
"Jackson is a widely respected leader in Texas who brings a unique background to our system. He is a pacesetter who has worked to develop solutions for some of our region's most pressing challenges. He will build on the momentum of 20 years of great leadership established by Dr. Hurley. We expect Jackson will us his own dynamic leadership to bring about changes in our system that will take us to new levels of prominence in the region and state."
As UNT System chancellor, Jackson will work to enhance the collective and individual futures of the system's institutions (the University of North Texas at Denton, the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth, the UNT System Center at Dallas and the future University of North Texas at Dallas) through building external relationships while overseeing the chief executive officer of each institution. In addition, he will focus on statewide and nationwide issues and how they relate to the UNT System.
"I look forward to helping this board and the entire UNT family achieve the very high goals that have been set for this system. Dr. Hurley has left a tremendous legacy of accomplishment. He has been the undisputed catalyst for UNT's steady rise in stature and scope. It is a real honor for me to be able to take the baton of UNT leadership," Jackson said. "While it's too early for me to discuss or assess any specific changes, I do see five broad priorities that I will use as guidelines to help set the tone for the development of the full potential of this young and growing system."
The priorities that will be the initial focus of Jackson's chancellorship are: developing the full potential of the UNT System; helping to create a clearer and more visible identity for the system; enhancing the quality of programs, teaching and research at the three system institutions; promoting diversity through the system; and strengthening the financial base at all system institutions.
On July 3, the regents named Jackson as the sole finalist for the chancellor post.
Today's confirmation satisfies the Texas legal requirement for an interim period of at least 21 days between the selection of a finalist and the naming of a new chancellor.
The process was set in motion in January when Hurley announced his plans to step after 22 years with the university and the UNT System. He was both university president and system chancellor from 1982 until 2000 and he became the system's first full-time chancellor in October of 2000.
Jackson has served as Dallas County Judge, the county's chief elected official, since 1987. As county judge, he has been responsible for regional advances in transportation, and has been an advocate for advances in public education, juvenile justice, workforce development, information technology, employee benefits and energy management.
He is recognized as a regional leader in the area of transportation, having formed in 1991 the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, which advocates for transportation funding and oversees major transportation projects. He is the past chair of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties and is a member of the Regional Transportation Council and the Partners in Mobility Executive Board. Jackson was instrumental in the creation of the North Texas Tollway Authority in 1997.
Jackson represented Dallas County in the Texas House of Representatives from 1976 to 1986, where he chaired the Business and Commerce Committee and was a member of the Public Education Committee. He was named one of the Ten Best Legislators by Texas Monthly magazine in 1983. D Magazine named Jackson a Legislative All-Star in 1981 and Dallas' Best Public Official in 1996.
He also received the North Central Texas Council of Government's William J. Pitstick Regional Leadership Award in 2000, the Texas Department of Transportation's Russell Perry Award in 1999 and the North Texas Commission's TEAM Award in 1999.
The son of two North Texas alumni, Jackson was named an Honorary University of North Texas Alumnus in April of this year in recognition for his advocacy on behalf of establishing the UNT System Center at Dallas and the future UNT at Dallas.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Duke University and a Master of Public Administration from Southern Methodist University.
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