Aug. 19, 2022

Dear UNLV Community,

Welcome to the fall 2022 semester and a new academic year! Thank you for all you do every day to make UNLV stronger, and for helping our students fulfill their higher education dreams.

One of the things I’ve become keenly aware of during my tenure as UNLV president is that our people are what makes our university truly special.

There’s so much to look forward to this academic year.

Construction abounds on our new engineering building, and the new medical education building is scheduled to be completed this fall, thanks to our generous donors. Research is flourishing in our labs, and our student-athletes have been training to compete and represent our university with pride this fall. 

The grounds are as vivacious and welcoming as ever – check out the recent addition of the Campus Labyrinth. Our Performing Arts Center is gearing up for a wonderful season, and in October we’ll mark the return of the Barrick Lecture Series with a visit from Deepak Chopra, and UNLV will host the NSHE Diversity Summit on Oct. 7. Also this fall, UNLV will partner with local television station KLAS-TV (Channel 8) to host two political debates scheduled ahead of November’s general election as we continue to advance our efforts to build community and embrace our role as a venue for civil discourse.

We’ll return this fall with nearly 75 percent of courses planned for in-person instruction, a formula we’ll evaluate each semester as student demand evolves.

I know there remains some anxiety about COVID-19 as new variants linger, but I also feel there’s a new energy of “we’ve got this.” We have battled this pandemic and have largely overcome it. UNLV has adjusted and grown immeasurably in our knowledge from responding to ever changing issues related to the pandemic and we learned how to be flexible so we can all move forward, no matter what is thrown at us.

COVID-19 cases continue to decline locally, according to the Southern Nevada Health District. While that’s great news, some members of the university continue to choose to wear masks while on campus, and we ask that you continue to exhibit kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward one another – regardless of the personal decision to wear, or not wear, one. I also encourage everyone to keep up to date with COVID vaccinations and boosters – it is the best defense against COVID-19 – and to self-report positive tests to UNLV so our contact tracing team can help you with next steps and related guidance.

To continue on the theme of protecting the health and safety of our campus community, UNLV has joined thousands of higher education institutions and is now smoke-free and tobacco-free. I understand that this may disrupt routines for some, and we’re offering free resources to help those in the UNLV community who need it.

In addition, UNLV has joined the national campaign to promote the 988 mental health crisis hotline, which enhances existing employee mental health resources offered through the Employee Assistance Program.

In preparation for a new academic year, please plan to join Provost Chris Heavey, Vice President for Human Resources Ericka Smith, CFO Jean Vock, and me for our first “All-Hands Meeting” from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. Aug. 22 in the Student Union Ballroom. We’re hoping to create a new tradition each semester by bringing the entire campus together for meaningful conversations about our shared purpose and goals.

As you return to campus, I hope you will feel the same vibrancy as I do. It is inspiring. And for all our new faculty and staff, I encourage everyone on Friday’s to wear red for #RebelRedFriday.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility and for your commitment to a healthy, safe, and inclusive university.

Being a part of our UNLV community has taught me that there’s nothing we can’t face if we do so together. Welcome back for a new academic year. I look forward to seeing you.

Warm regards,

Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.
UNLV President