UNLV History

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Greenspun College of Urban Affairs

The creation of the College of Urban Affairs in 1996 reflected the commitment of UNLV and its then-president, Carol Harter, to the community and to the goal of becoming an engaged metropolitan research university. The college was composed of the Hank Greenspun School of Communication; the School of Social Work; and the departments of environmental studies, leisure studies, counseling, and criminal justice. Robert Rossman, a professor in the department of leisure studies, served as interim dean; the college began with nearly 1,400 undergraduate and 230 graduate majors.

With a $1.7 million gift from the Greenspun family later that year, the college adopted its current name, the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs (GCUA). Martha Watson, associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, became the founding dean in 1997 and continues in that role today.

College Reorganization

Over the next few years, the college fine-tuned its organization. In 1997, the department of leisure studies moved out (to the Harrah College of Hotel Administration), and a year later, the department of public administration moved in. In 2001, the Hank Greenspun School took over KUNV, the university's public radio station; in 2005, the school split into two units: the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies and the department of communication studies. Additionally, the School of Public Affairs was created, comprising the departments of public administration, communications, and criminal justice. Most recently, the department of counseling was reorganized to become the department of marriage and family therapy, one of just a few such departments in the country.

Steady Growth

The college has grown steadily since its formation. By fall 2006, it had nearly 2,300 students majoring in one of its programs, with a graduation rate per faculty member more than double the university average. Greenspun College now offers two doctoral programs — public affairs and environmental studies — in addition to eight bachelor's and seven master's degrees.

The School of Social Work, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, offers a post-graduate certificate in forensic social work to prepare social justice advocates and a dual juris doctor/master of social work with the William S. Boyd School of Law, allowing students to pursue the two degrees concurrently. The public administration department, accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, offers an executive master's in crisis and emergency management, one of the few such programs in the country. After a nine-year hiatus, UNLV's competitive debate team will return to the college in fall 2007, thanks to the generosity of donor Sanford I. Berman.

Faculty Research

Faculty research productivity has grown significantly since the establishment of the college. Three scholarly journals — the Quarterly Journal of Speech, the Journal of Media and Religion, and the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law — are edited by GCUA faculty. Faculty regularly publish articles in the leading journals in their fields and have an impressive record of monographs published by Yale University Press, Michigan State University Press, Brunner/Routledge, W.W. Norton, and Cambridge University Press. Grant funding has also increased dramatically in the last three years, with college units receiving more than $8 million to support research.

Alumni Achievement

GUAC graduates pursue various successful careers, such as:

  • Sports broadcaster Kenny Mayne, '82 — who anchored ESPN2's SportsSmash for many years — provides features to SportsCenter and "The Mayne Event" segments to Sunday NFL Countdown.
  • Anthony Zuiker, '91, is the creator of the highly successful CSI television series
  • Adrienne Cardwell, '02, who completed her thesis on the bottlenose dolphin, now works on the staff at the dolphin habitat at The Mirage.
  • Tara Pike, '94, who developed the recycling program at UNLV as part of her thesis project, now coordinates the program.
  • Alumni have become government leaders such as General Assembly members John Oceguera, '98, and Kathryn McClain, '93; former sheriff Bill Young, '88; and Clark County Manager Virginia Valentine, 2000.

Community Collaboration

The college has developed a range of vital collaborations with the community and the region:

  • The Center for Individual, Couple, and Family Counseling offers low-cost counseling to the Las Vegas community.
  • The college provides diverse educational programming to the community through KUNV, the only traditional jazz station in the valley, and UNLV-TV, a television production unit.
  • The Center for the Analysis of Crime Statistics collects and analyzes data from law-enforcement agencies throughout the state so that reports can be prepared for state policymakers and the media.
  • The Center for Urban Partnerships recently worked with the Clark County Department of Family Services on a $2.5 million project to improve outcomes for families in the child welfare system.
  • A free program open to the public, the Barbara Greenspun Lecture Series, has featured renowned journalists and public figures, such as former President William Clinton, Carl Bernstein, Thomas Friedman, Leah Rabin, David Shaw, and Linda Ellerbee.
  • The department of public administration has sponsored public forums on pressing issues in Nevada, such as the effect of the housing boom on property taxes.

Looking Ahead

In January 2007, the GCUA broke ground for the $94 million, five-story Greenspun Hall, funded by the state and the Greenspun family. The college moved into the building in 2008, giving it a permanent home and identity. Technologically and environmentally advanced, Greenspun Hall houses state-of-the-art production and media facilities. The building also serves as an anchor for the Midtown UNLV project planned to revitalize the Maryland Parkway area.

With these superb facilities and its committed faculty, staff, and students, the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs will continue pursuing its mission of integrating research, teaching, and innovative collaborations to prepare community leaders and address pressing societal and environmental issues.