Deans: 1990 - 1997
The first permanent dean of Liberal Arts was James Malek who presided over the college for four years. Malek, a University of Chicago Ph.D., served as chair of the English department at DePaul University before coming to UNLV. In a series of personnel decisions, Malek strengthened the standards for tenure and promotion.
During his time, the college hired many promising young scholars, including historian Hal Rothman who was later named a Distinguished Professor. Malek's commitment to excellence led him to secure a Ph.D. program in History. In addition, Malek tried but failed to convince Liberal Arts faculty to adopt a multicultural requirement for the college's majors. He succeeded, however, in obtaining degree-granting status for Women's Studies, which remained a program until it became a department in 2001.
In 1994, Malek resigned to become the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a year later at Florida Atlantic. Several years after that, he was appointed provost of Ithaca College before moving on to the same position at Rollins College in Florida. Following Malek's resignation, Film Studies professor Hart Wegner served as interim dean until Guy Bailey's arrival in 1995.
Bailey, with a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, came to UNLV from Memphis State where he chaired the English department. He was also a strong leader who emphasized more rigorous promotion and tenure standards. Among his accomplishments were starting the foreign language laboratory and the Cannon Survey Center. Bailey also established the Wilson Advising Center.
The center's origins lay in the frustration that Earl and Hazel Wilson Estate trustee Jay Brown encountered when his daughter, a Liberal Arts major, struggled to get sound academic advising. Brown contacted Lea Sexton, who at the time was an as advisor in the Athletics department, about possible creating an advising office in Liberal Arts. Once contacted, Bailey and his associate dean, Michael Bowers (who served six deans in that capacity from 1988-99), immediately met with Brown and later with Mel Wolzinger, the other Wilson trustee.
Recognizing the costs involved with maintaining such an operation, Bailey then lobbied the Harter Administration for more permanent funding. Provost Douglas Ferraro promised the dean that if he could secure enough start-up money from the Wilson Estate, UNLV would make the center a permanent operation in the next biennial budget. Bailey successfully closed the deal, and the Wilson Advising Center began operations in January 1997 with Lea Sexton as the founding director.
Bailey only stayed two years at UNLV before accepting the position of graduate dean at the University of Texas, San Antonio where he later became provost. Then in January 2006, Bailey left the Lone Star State to become chancellor of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, making him the only former dean to become, in effect, a university president.
Deans: 1997 - 2005
Following Bailey's departure, Provost Ferraro tapped sociology chair, James Frey, to be the college's interim head. A year later, he became the permanent dean. Frey, with a doctorate from Washington State and more than twenty years of experience at UNLV, served nearly seven years in his new position, making him the longest-serving dean in the college's history and giving him the time to undertake a variety of initiatives.
In terms of new programs, Frey secured doctoral degree programs in Anthropology, Clinical Psychology, and Experimental Psychology, as well as a baccalaureate degree in Forensic Science, a major in "Spanish for the Professions" within the World Languages and Cultures department, and a graduate certificate in Women's studies. In addition, Frey championed the transformation of women's studies from a degree-granting program to a formal department within the college.
In this same vein, he worked with historian Joanne Goodwin to establish the Women's Research Institute (WRIN), which eventually helped to promote another Frey goal: attracting more grant money to the college.
On other fronts, Frey hired the first woman (Deborah Arteaga) and African American (Rainier Spencer) as associate deans of the college. He also instituted a New Faculty Mentoring program in which veteran faculty mentored new hires to ease their transition to UNLV.
The dean also created a Peer Counseling Program (chaired by Steve Parker) that identified the college's excellent instructors who, in a series of presentations, shared their insights about teaching with colleagues seeking to polish their classroom skills. Besides improving instruction, Frey also moved to attract more majors to the college.
Recognizing that many UNLV students majored in the college of Business, Hotel Administration, and Education because they were convinced that those degrees were more likely to get them a good job, Frey sponsored an annual "Job Fair for Liberal Arts Majors" in which students received job hunting advice from a panel of speakers representing firms known for recruiting Liberal Arts graduates.
The dean also expended considerable effort in trying to raise private funds for the college. In 1998, he resurrected an old Tom Wright strategy by creating a Community Advisory Board (chaired by Charles Cleveland) and an Alumni Board (chaired by Christina Hinds). With the assistance of his development officer, Cynthia Baca, Frey reached out to the Boyer Foundation and got two years of funding for the University Forum Lecture Series.
The college also sponsored its first-ever golf tournament which raised about $12,000. In addition, he traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby Nevada's congressional delegation to gain support for college projects that might be eligible for receiving earmarked funds. The most significant outcome from this effort was obtaining over $1 million in federal funds for the Test Site Oral History Project.
Frey also oversaw the renovation and reconstruction of John S. Wright hall by serving on the building committee. In this capacity, he met regularly with planners and architects to ensure that department chairs had significant input in a process that spanned his entire time as dean.
In 2005, faculty members greeted the building's re-opening with generally favorable reviews. But the dean also experienced a number of frustrations. Among them was his abortive effort in 2001 to encourage more research and publication by reducing the teaching load for Liberal Arts faculty to 2-2—a move criticized in the local press. Eventually, the mounting pressures of being dean for seven years took their toll, and in Fall 2004, Frey decided to retire in June of the following year.