Dear University Community,
I spent the weekend reflecting about this amazing university and all the people who have come before me and those that will be here long after. During my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to meet people who are transformative in how they think about possibilities and go beyond what you can see to imagine greatness. Former UNLV President Dr. Carol C. Harter was one of those people. Sadly, as you might have read over the weekend, President Harter passed away late last week.
Her contributions to UNLV cannot be overstated. President Harter oversaw tremendous change and growth during her 11 years as UNLV’s leader. She loved and cared so much about our university. She worked tirelessly so it could reach its potential, and was the first to have the vision of how UNLV could – and would – become a major research university. Her vision set UNLV on the path to becoming a Carnegie R1 “very high research” university, placing us among the top 3 percent of research universities nationally.
The UNLV School of Dental Medicine, William S. Boyd School of Law, Lied Library, and the formation of the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs all occurred during Dr. Harter’s tenure. She was a role model for many as the first woman president at UNLV, and she was a fierce proponent for gender equality. She established the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada and also was instrumental in founding and creating the vision for the Black Mountain Institute, along with philanthropist Beverly Rogers.
But more than anything else, President Harter championed the needs of our students, always with an eye on their success. She understood that UNLV offered our students a chance to dream big, explore careers, and improve their quality of life. She believed in them, encouraged them, and advocated for them.
She was a leader ahead of her time, and a mentor to me. Carol would reach out periodically and ask how I was doing, share her thoughts on an issue, or offer counsel when I needed a different perspective or approach. She would even text me about UNLV football games. She was honest and critical at times, but always supportive, drawing on her experience as the longest serving UNLV president. She always wanted what was best for this university.
The UNLV community extends our condolences to her husband Mike, the entire Harter family, and her countless friends – including many university faculty and staff. I will work with her family and close friends to organize a campus event later this fall that will celebrate her life and contributions to UNLV.
We have lost an incredible colleague, a caring mentor, and a friend.
Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.