Jan. 16, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin the spring semester at UNLV this week, I know that it will be unlike any we’ve experienced as a university.

We look forward to getting back to our core mission of educating students and continuing the important and urgent work that UNLV contributes to our community and state. But we can’t ignore the fact that we are, both individually and collectively, still processing last month’s tragedy, and we are continuing our recovery together.

The key word is together. Our university community – and as I witnessed, the larger community in Southern Nevada – rallies around one another when faced with adversity. I am confident that by working together we will emerge as a stronger university. Our road to recovery won’t be completed overnight, but it will be focused, inclusive, compassionate, and driven by the notion that the safety, security, and well-being of the UNLV family – our employees and students – are our priority. Enrollment remains steady, and as students return to campus this week, they’ll see an elevated, visible security presence by both university police and a private security team.

To help UNLV move forward, I have developed a campus-wide Rebel Recovery Program in collaboration with university leaders. We’re engaging our faculty, staff, and students to ensure all voices are heard as we develop short and long term enhancements to campus safety and security, while offering comprehensive wellness and mental health programming. 

We have begun to review existing security measures to develop a comprehensive safety infrastructure plan, and we look forward to working with local, state, and federal partners to implement strategic and focused improvements on our campuses.  

The start of any new semester is met with a mix of excitement and anxiety – and that will certainly be the case this spring. Today, representatives from area Tribal Nations are helping us launch the new semester by performing a traditional Healing Ceremony on campus. It’s another step forward in our recovery. 

I want to end with a note of gratitude. Thank you all for your continued kindness and compassion for our university, our students, and our faculty and staff. I’ve seen a community shine bright with love, support, and encouragement. On behalf of the entire UNLV community, I am eternally grateful for all you have done and continue to do to support our great university. 

As I’ve said since I arrived at UNLV more than three years ago – and it’s as true as ever today – this is a very special community. Together, we are UNLV. Together, we are UNLV Strong!

Warm regards,

Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.