UNLV History

Roman Zorn

Roman J. Zorn began his tenure in 1969. Zorn, a historian, came to the university after serving as president of Keene State College in New Hampshire. He knew little about the valley, but he saw the city's growth potential and was convinced that there was considerable opportunity for fostering and building a great university in Las Vegas. Zorn was widely respected as a firm spokesman for the state's southern campus and worked hard to establish UNLV in the university system.

Private giving was also important to the Zorn administration. His predecessor, Donald Moyer, had initiated a campaign to raise funds for the construction of a theater, which came to fruition during Zorn's years with the construction of the Judy Bayley Theater. The William D. Carlson Education Building and the Flora Dungan Humanities Building were also built during Zorn's years. He also helped negotiate a gift of $5 million from the DeVos family for scholarships and student aid. The DeVos Scholarships were among the earliest sources of financial assistance available to UNLV students.

During his tenure, Zorn raised faculty salaries and reduced course teaching loads. This allowed professors to have more time to publish. In doing so, Zorn hoped to empower UNLV faculty and the value of a UNLV degree. Under Zorn, the hotel administration program became a college. Additionally, he and his academic vice president, Don Baepler, created the Graduate College.

Zorn also recognized the importance of athletics. In 1973, he energized UNLV's sports program by hiring Jerry Tarkanian as the new coach of the Runnin' Rebels basketball team.

In 1973, Zorn left the presidency and returned to his faculty position in the history department, where he served until his retirement in the early 1980s.

Hulse, James W.; Goodall, Leonard; and Allen, Jackie. Reinventing the System: Higher Education in Nevada. University of Nevada Press, 2002.

Moehring, Eugene P. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas: A History. University of Nevada Press, 2007.