I feel an incredible sense of responsibility and good fortune to work in higher education today.

Written by Len Jessup,
President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

One thing that drew me to UNLV is that this is truly a place of opportunity.

Like so many of UNLV’s students and alumni, I am a first-generation college graduate. I went off to junior college to play baseball and expected to leave with a business certificate. It took a coach and then a series of professors to urge me on to a bachelor’s degree, an MBA, and a Ph.D.

So I feel an incredible sense of responsibility and good fortune to work in higher education today. I know what it’s like for higher education to lift you up from a place with limited options to one that’s wide open. I also know that as we lift up individuals, we lift up our entire community.

For Southern Nevada, in particular, the opportunity for the university to contribute great things is vast and invigorating. The college-degree-holding population in Southern Nevada is about 21 percent—half that of regions around Salt Lake City and Denver, which have robust economies and high quality of life rankings. That’s just one statistic, but it’s indicative of the important role that UNLV, as the primary research university in Southern Nevada, has in contributing to the vibrancy and health of our community.

With that in mind, legislative and business leaders have embraced UNLV’s goals to rise as a top-tier research institution. The Legislature recently granted our full-funding request for the new UNLV School of Medicine which will welcome its first students in fall 2017. They’ll be welcomed to the school with full scholarships generously funded by a cross-section of community leaders and organizations.

If you’ve ever called for a doctor’s appointment only be told the soonest you could get in was weeks away, one impact of the School of Medicine is immediately evident. The school will expand access to health care, particularly to specialists, for our community. But it also will foster spinoff businesses in the well-paying bio-tech sector. By 2030, the school will have created 8,000 new jobs, have brought in $60 million in new revenues for the state annually, and have generated an overall annual economic impact of $1.2 billion.

The medical school is just one great example of how UNLV is aligning its resources to address the issues facing our state, to support our economy, to protect and preserve our environment, and to provide the cultural activities that make the heart and soul happy. I invite you to come discover the many opportunities we offer for community engagement.