University of North Texas President V. Lane Rawlins today told the UNT community that he intends to retire on or before December 31, 2013.
Rawlins, who joined UNT in May 2010 as an interim appointment, said "I never dreamed I would stay more than a few months, but UNT is such a special place that I fell in love with the university, its students, faculty and staff.
"I am honored to have served as president of this great university for the past three years, and I hope I have helped shape its future. I look forward to the progress we will continue to make in the coming months, and believe the academic and administrative leadership in place will continue to guide the university toward greater excellence," Rawlins said.
Rawlins plans to remain involved with UNT through an active President Emeritus appointment that would allow him to work on special projects to help the university make progress in key areas.
"I want the community to understand that I'm choosing to step down because I believe the university has a strong foundation for a new president and because I am still in good health. I have a long list of unfinished projects, family needs, and personal commitments that need tending," Rawlins said.
UNT System Board of Regents Chairman Jack Wall said "the Board has applauded Lane Rawlins' initiatives and has supported his agenda to improve academic quality, strengthen our planning and establish clearer goals that can guide us successfully for years to come. He came to UNT promising us one year of his best efforts but he and Mary Jo fell in love with UNT and the community here and we have been fortunate to have benefitted from three years of his leadership, drawing on his deep experience as a successful college president."
The UNT System will name a 15-member search advisory committee within the next two weeks, said UNT System Chancellor Lee Jackson. The board, chancellor and search advisory committee will work with the national search firm Storbeck Pimentel to identify strong candidates capable of elevating UNT to its next level of success. Rawlins plans to remain President through the search for and arrival of his successor.
"I am tremendously pleased with President Rawlins' leadership and the progress being made at our flagship university," Jackson said. "I thank Dr. Rawlins and Mary Jo for joining our community. And I am personally grateful to Dr. Rawlins for giving UNT the benefit of his experience, wisdom, and passion for public higher education. Dr. Rawlins has been invaluable to UNT and I'm gratified that he is willing to continue his involvement in an emeritus role.
"Lane Rawlins has set the bar higher for the next UNT President, but he has also helped us in recruiting for his successor, because UNT has a track record of positive growth and an enhanced reputation," said Jackson.
During President Rawlins' tenure, he has helped the university community define four bold goals that will lead the university to greater quality in education, research, effectiveness and engagement. He also helped the university plan for strategic enrollment growth, which has led to two years of record-setting freshman classes in size, talent and diversity. And, the university is creating a culture of data-based assessment and improvement that will ensure UNT continues to achieve efficiencies and reallocate funds in support of excellence.
In recent years, the university has made significant and real strides toward National Research University status by recruiting distinguished high-quality faculty in strategic areas, improving its research infrastructure and investing more funds in scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. This capitalizes on previous steps that laid the groundwork for growth in research, starting with the acquisition of Discovery Park, the initiation of the College of Engineering and completion of new facilities for chemistry and life sciences.
UNT also has improved its student services and its athletics programs since 2010. Apogee Stadium, the nation's most sustainable collegiate stadium and home of Mean Green football opened and this fall UNT will compete in Conference-USA. And, UNT enjoys a stronger public image as "A green light to greatness." for students and the communities it serves.
Before joining UNT, Rawlins previously served as President at Washington State University from 2000 to 2007 and the University of Memphis from 1991 to 2000. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Rawlins is a native of southeast Idaho. He and his wife, Mary Jo Rawlins, have three children and 11 grandchildren.