Following his announcement, the search for a successor began almost immediately. In July 2004, Edward Shoben, a Stanford Ph.D. and former chair of the Psychology department at the University of Illinois (from 1995-2003), left that institution to head UNLV's College of Liberal Arts.
With his new associate dean, historian Andrew Bell, Shoben undertook a series of initiatives over the next three years to enhance the quality of the college. Improving the quality of the faculty was a major objective. Shoben insisted that departments hire only the strongest candidates, trained at America's best institutions, with excellent records of publication/creative activity and ambitious agendas. Most notably, his efforts resulted in the recruitment of an endowed full professor emeritus of political science from the University of Maryland as well as an assistant professor and a postdoctoral fellow from Harvard's Psychology department.
In his effort to improve scholarship overall, Shoben encouraged faculty members to submit their works to the best venues possible by reforming the merit system to reward excellent work as well as the impact of past work upon the field. To this end, he lobbied UNLV's administration to expand the pool of merit money available to a college that traditionally received less of the distribution than many of its counterparts.
The same sense of purpose marked Shoben's effort to fulfill the college's mission in the area of teaching. One of his goals was to create a more diverse faculty. Despite some early progress in several departments, this is an undertaking that cannot be accomplished overnight and will take several more years to fully realize.
The same will be true of his effort to reduce the number of part-time instructors and increase the contact time that students at all levels have with full-time faculty. Shoben's first notable success in this area was in History where he secured a number of new positions, including faculty-in-residence assistant professors, to dramatically reduce that department's reliance on part-time instructors in survey courses fulfilling general education requirements. He also proposed a system of incentives to encourage faculty to teach larger classes while giving others the option of teaching smaller classes.
In 2006, the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute was established. It originated with Glenn Schaeffer, the former Mandalay Resort Group president and CFO, who had attended the Iowa Writers Workshop. Former UNLV President Carol C. Harter, an English professor, became the first director. The institute now bears her name and that of its biggest financial and community supporter, Beverly Rogers. The City of Asylum program, which provides haven for writers under threat in other countries, became part of BMI.
Following a three-year stint as dean, Dr. Shoben left that position in May 2007. Dr. Chris Hudgins, longtime chair of the Department of English and an internationally prominent authority on the works of David Mamet and Harold Pinter, became dean. Hudgins continued building on the creative writing and MFA programs in the English department. He also strongly supported the Black Mountain Institute and became the longest-serving dean in the history of the College of Liberal Arts before retiring from UNLV in 2016.
In 2012, the colleges of Liberal Arts and Education teamed up to start The PRACTICE – the Partnership for Research, Assessment, Counseling, Therapy, and Innovative Clinical Education – a community mental health clinic.
In 2016, Chris Heavey, a psychology professor and vice provost, succeeded Hudgins as dean. During his tenure, the college added its first endowed chair – the Harry Reid Endowed Chair for the History of the Intermountain West – with Susan Lee Johnson, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, beginning the position in 2019. Heavey oversaw a college with 13 departments and centers, more than 170 faculty, and more than 3,700 students before returning to the provost’s office in 2018. He was succeeded by Executive Associate Dean Jennifer Keene.