DENTON (UNT), Texas University of North Texas System Chancellor Alfred F. Hurley today announced his plans to step down on August 31 — the day he will complete what he describes as 22 “happy” years with the university and the UNT System.
When he departs, Hurley, 73, will have served as the UNT System’s chief executive officer for more than 20 years.
In remarks to members of the UNT System community, Hurley said, “I feel the time has come to seek new challenges and pass the UNT System baton to another leader. My hope is that my successor will be an individual who will continue to lead the system to top-tier status — where the visions for our campuses are aimed.”
UNT System Board of Regents Chairman Bobby Ray said, “Dr. Hurley helped steer UNT and the UNT System to new levels of achievement. Thanks in large measure to his leadership and determination, the UNT System and its institutions are stronger than ever and are well positioned to rise to new heights of excellence. He is an acknowledged champion for all issues that support quality higher education.
“Under Dr. Hurley’s guidance,” Ray said, “the system’s flagship institution, the University of North Texas, gained recognition as the largest and most comprehensive university in the dynamic North Texas region. The UNT System became one of the six recognized university systems in Texas. The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine grew, adding new schools and departments to become the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth. And the Texas House and Senate unanimously passed a bill that establishes the University of North Texas at Dallas — which will become the first public university in the city of Dallas.”
Hurley said, “The search for my successor will begin immediately with the aim of finding a new chancellor for the UNT System by August 31. Although my current contract expires on that date, I have assured the regents that I will do all I can to facilitate a smooth transition and to serve until the search is successfully concluded, if it takes longer than expected.”
Hurley joined the university as vice president for administrative affairs on September 1, 1980. Less than 17 months after his arrival, in February 1982, he became UNT’s 12th president and the second chancellor of the informal UNT System. He held the university presidency longer than any other chief executive in UNT’s history.
In September 2000, the regents voted to separate the offices of system chancellor and university president. As a result in October of that year, Hurley became the system’s first full-time chancellor.
Hurley is known as a modest man who always shares the credit for two decades of progress during his chancellorship and presidency with his wife, Joanna, and others.
“Joanna and I know full well that our exceptionally long stay can be attributed to the efforts of so many people who gave their best. Together we accomplished a great deal,” Hurley said.
On the other hand, many credit Hurley as a major factor in the rise of the university and the system to educational leadership in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and North Texas region.
In a September 2000 editorial, The Dallas Morning News spotlighted Hurley as an “unsung hero of higher education” and cited the “pivotal” role he has played for the North Texas region. “While other universities in this area have struggled at times to establish their roles, the University of North Texas has charged full speed ahead,” it said.
The wide-ranging respect for Hurley’s leadership makes it difficult for some to believe that presiding at UNT has been his second career. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1950 as a private. He aspired to become a pilot, but the Air Force detected a talent for navigation and trained him accordingly. He was a member of the U.S. Air Force Academy history faculty for 19 years. His distinguished Air Force career lasted 30 years, ending with his promotion to brigadier general and retirement in 1980.
Hurley plans to spend the remainder of his time as chancellor “working at full speed every day.” He said, “I hope to bring the capital campaign to its stated goal of $150 million, and I expect that we will continue to make progress in all that is required to position our system as a recognized, major force in meeting the ever-growing teaching, research and public service demands of our North Texas region and the State of Texas.
Hurley also said, “I have been exploring new roles that combine my many areas of interest, including leadership in public service, consulting work in higher education, and the renewal of more of my long-deferred work in military history.”
The University of North Texas System is the only university system whose primary mission is to serve the residents of the North Texas region. The UNT System comprises the University of North Texas at Denton, the region’s leading public university and the flagship institution; the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth, the state's leading producer of primary care physicians; and the UNT System Center at Dallas, an extension of UNT at Denton, which will lead the way to the establishment of the University of North Texas at Dallas (the first public university in the City of Dallas) in the near future. Through its education, research, health care and public service missions, the system serves people in nearly every county in Texas. However, it is focused primarily on serving the residents of the 129 municipalities that comprise the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex — the consolidated statistical area of the 12 North Texas counties.
Major progress during Hurley’s tenure as UNT president and system chancellor from February 1982 to October 2000:
Major progress during Hurley’s tenure as full-time UNT system chancellor from October 2000 to the present:
Progress on the UNT campus during Hurley’s years as president and chancellor:
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