Jan. 25, 2021


Dear Colleagues,

I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Bo Bernhard as Interim Vice President of Economic Development, effective Jan. 1.

Economic development has always been central to our mission as a university, and its importance will only grow in the coming months and years as we work with partners statewide to create and expand businesses, develop new and diverse technologies, and train the highly skilled workforce that will ultimately move Nevada forward.

As Nevada emerges from the devastating effects of the pandemic, UNLV will play a central role in our state’s economic recovery and sustainability. For that reason, I’ve decided to elevate the position overseeing UNLV’s economic development efforts from associate vice president to vice president. The cabinet-level position will report to the president and work closely with senior university leadership.

Bo has served admirably as interim associate vice president of economic development since October. In his expanded role, he will continue to lead a team of faculty, staff, and students that supports faculty innovation and discovery on campus, aligns our research strengths with new and emerging business opportunities, and forges reciprocal partnerships within the state’s economic ecosystem. He will also oversee the teams at Black Fire Innovation, the Nevada Small Business Development Center at UNLV, and the UNLV Research Foundation.

A professor of sociology and hospitality, Bo will also continue to serve as executive director of the UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI). The IGI has grown dramatically in recent years to become the patent hot spot at UNLV and a global leader in research, policy and regulation, and executive education for the gaming industry.

Bo is a native Nevadan who earned a Ph.D. at UNLV after receiving bachelor’s degrees in both sociology and psychology from Harvard, where he also excelled as a student-athlete.

He has earned numerous teaching and research awards during his nearly two decades at UNLV, including the Denken Career Award for Research, the Barrick Scholar Award, and the top teaching and research awards at the Harrah College of Hospitality. He is also the only professor at UNLV to have won both the Spanos Award for teaching and the Harry Reid Silver State Research Award, the university’s top career research award.

Importantly, Bo also serves as the Philip G. Satre Chair in Gaming Studies, a dual appointment with UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno that generates partnerships with the state’s largest industry on educational and research projects that reach six continents and dozens of international jurisdictions.

Please join me in congratulating Bo, and in thanking him for taking on this expanded role during this critically important time for our university, our community, and our state.

Warm regards,

Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.