Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content
Staff Photographer

New head of UNT System could make up to $815,000 in first year

Lesa Roe, the next chancellor of the University of North Texas System, has a contract that could potentially be worth more than $2 million over the next three years in the role.

Roe, who will start in the position Oct. 9, will earn an annual base pay of $575,000 plus perks, according to the contract obtained by the Denton Record-Chronicle. At the end of each year, she can get up to a 30 percent bonus, worth $172,500. She also will be reimbursed for moving costs and living and travel expenses. The total possible compensation for her first year would cap out at about $815,000.

The contract was executed by G. Brint Ryan, chairman of the UNT Board of Regents, on Monday. He did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. 

Roe will come to Dallas from a longtime career at NASA and will replace outgoing Chancellor Lee Jackson. She is currently serving as acting deputy administrator at NASA, and her last day will be Sept. 30. She was named the sole finalist for the chancellor position in August. 

"It's an exciting time for the UNT System. We are saying thank you to Lee Jackson, an icon in Texas public service who really built UNT into a modern system," said UNT System spokesman Paul Corliss in a statement. "And at the same time we are welcoming an incoming CEO with an incredible background in research, innovation and leadership — she has literally landed on Mars — to help lead the UNT System into a new era."

Jackson will transition into an advisory role when Roe starts in the position. He'll stay on as a senior adviser until the end of the year, when he formally retires from the UNT System. 

In recent years as chancellor, Jackson's base salary has been $608,100, according to his contract. He also had retention payments annually for 20 percent ($121,620). Jackson led the UNT System for 15 years. 

As an adviser, he will get $22,920 monthly as he helps transition out of the role of chancellor.

Bill McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas System, made $1.5 million in 2016 and John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, made almost $1.3 million. 

New UNT System Chancellor Lesa Roe is seen during an interview at The Adolphus in Dallas, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News)Staff Photographer
New UNT System Chancellor Lesa Roe is seen during an interview at The Adolphus in Dallas, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News)
Staff Photographer

Roe's husband, Ralph Roe, will stay in Virginia and continue as NASA's chief engineer. Since he'll be in Virginia, there are additional allowances in the contract for expenses such as flying to Virgina monthly.

"Our Board of Regents wanted Lesa to get started as chancellor of the UNT System as soon as possible, and these temporary contractual provisions will allow her to get to work in October while still allowing time to work through logistics of a cross-country move in the coming months," Corliss said. "Family and career are both very important to Lesa, and she is appreciative that our Board understands her values."

Here's the breakdown of Roe's contract: 

  • $575,000 base salary,

  • $47,000 bonus on first paycheck,

  • Ability to get annual bonuses, up to $172,500,

  • $800 monthly car allowance for first three months,

  • $3,000 monthly housing allowance for first three months (this can be extended for another three months at the Board of Regents' discretion),

  • Reimbursement for undisclosed relocation costs to move to Texas,

  • One year of plane tickets, up to 12 round trips, to return to Virginia for personal business, and 

  • Reimbursement for insurance during the first 60 days in office, before UNT’s insurance can begin.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.