The Early Years
The university's origins were humble indeed. In 1951, when the post-war boom had swollen Las Vegas' metropolitan population to more than 50,000, the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), established an extension program. Twenty-eight students began meeting for classes in the dressing rooms of Las Vegas High School's auditorium. In 1954, the Nevada Board of Regents founded the Southern Regional Division of the University of Nevada, popularly known as Nevada Southern. Students adopted the Rebel name and mascot to reflect their desire to break free from UNR. After Las Vegas residents exerted pressure, the regents decided to acquire land for a campus, finally selecting an 80-acre parcel along the two-lane dirt road known as Maryland Parkway.
On September 10, 1957, the first classes were held on campus in a new 13,000-square-foot building, later named for Maude Frazier, a state assemblywoman and founding force behind Nevada Southern. A year later, the school received accreditation from the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools. To serve the growing enrollment, buildings went up in a flurry of construction, including a physical education and health center, a science and technology building, a classroom building named for regent Archie C. Grant, and the James R. Dickinson Library, named for the first director of the extension program.