Joyful Introductions Abound at Charter Class Scholarship Mixer

Joyful hellos, hugs, and ear-to-ear smiles permeated the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Charter Class Scholarship Mixer on August 2. After a much anticipated two-year wait to meet their scholarship recipients, Kerkorian School of Medicine Founding Scholarship donors had an opportunity to meet and visit with their respective scholarship recipients at the mixer, hosted by Founding Scholarship donors, Debbie and Gary Ackerman. Nearly three-fourths of the Founding Scholarship donors, and several new scholarship donors were on hand to get acquainted with members of the charter class, school leadership, medical education faculty, and staff.

All 60 medical students in the inaugural class have full-tuition scholarships from the 2015 Founding Scholarship Campaign which raised $13.5 million for 135 scholarships in total. Thanks to a leadership gift by the Engelstad Family Foundation to provide 100 four-year scholarships, 25 each for the first four classes at the medical school, 38 additional donors in the community stepped up to support the other 35 four-year, full-tuition scholarships for the charter class.

Sean McGarry, center, represented the Engelstad Family Foundation to meet the first 25 Engelstad Medical Scholars

Sean McGarry, center, represented the Engelstad Family Foundation to meet the first 25 Engelstad Medical Scholars at the Charter Class Scholarship Mixer. Flanking the group, UNLV Provost Diane Chase and Acting Dean Shawn L. Gerstenberger, Ph.D.

Since Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson is on medical leave, UNLV President Len Jessup and Provost Diane Chase introduced the acting dean for the medical school, Shawn L. Gerstenberger, Ph.D., dean of the UNLV School of Public Health. Dr. Gerstenberger pledged to work with the current medical school team to advance the founding dean’s vision for the school.

President Jessup thanked Debra and Gary Ackerman for hosting the event and all of the donors present for their generosity in supporting these students. He encouraged the charter class to make the most of their time in medical school, to choose to practice in our community as physicians, and to pay it forward by supporting scholarships for future medical students.

Dr. Ellen Cosgrove, vice dean for academic affairs and education, highlighted the tremendous diversity in the charter class. Academic talents range from engineering to film studies, and from neuroscience to biochemistry. Many in the class have significant work experience already. The class is composed of nurses, mental health workers, teachers, waiters and waitresses, researchers, EMTs, and paramedics as well as students who have worked in the retail, gaming and service industries. Most importantly, members of the charter class have already demonstrated a deep commitment to community service, having worked closely with women and children, homeless individuals, those who have been impacted by HIV and substance abuse and those who have been incarcerated.

New Founding Scholarships Created for Charter Class

New Founding Scholarships were recently created for the class of 2021 to cover four years of medical school tuition.

Vladislav had the opportunity to meet leaders from the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada at the Charter Class Scholarship Mixer on August 2.  From left to right - James Kildea, Practice Director of Operations; Jon Bilstein, Executive Director; Vladislav; and Mary Ann K. Allison, MD, President.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada Scholarship

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada (CCCN) is committed to a tradition of community involvement, including raising awareness and funding for cancer research and the development of the next generation of physicians to treat and combat those impacted by cancer.

To demonstrate this commitment, CCCN recently established the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada Scholarship at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. The scholarship was awarded to first-year medical student, Vladislav Zhitny, who has already demonstrated a keen interest in cancer research, having interned on cancer research projects at Harvard, NYU, and Stanford while completing his undergraduate biology degree at UNLV.

“Our practice is proud to support the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV with the inaugural Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada Scholarship,” said Dr. Mary Ann K. Allison, practice president and co-founder of CCCN. “We see this as an important investment in our community and the doctors that will care for Southern Nevadans in the years to come. It was a real pleasure to meet our first scholarship recipient, Vladislav, and learn that he has a keen interest in cancer research. We hope to be a mentor and resource for him throughout his medical school journey."

For more information about the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, please visit their website.

Dr. and Mrs. Bacchus get acquainted with their scholarship recipient, Anita Albanese, at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Charter Class Scholarship Mixer.

Amir S. Bacchus, MD and Colleen M. Bacchus Scholarship

As a long-time physician leader and innovator in Las Vegas as well as a Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Community Engagement Board (CEB) member, Dr. Amir Bacchus is committed to the success of the Kerkorian School of Medicine. For the past three years, he has actively shared his counsel and expertise with founding dean, Dr. Barbara Atkinson, and her leadership team as they tackled the myriad of steps and met the milestones needed to launch the medical school.  More recently, Dr. Bacchus and his wife, Colleen, chose to support the medical school philanthropically by setting up the Amir S. Bacchus, MD and Colleen M. Bacchus Scholarship, also a Founding Scholarship, for a member of the Class of 2021.

Their founding scholarship recipient, Anita Albanese, graduated from Silverado High School in Las Vegas, and completed her Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in chemical engineering and neuroscience at the University of Nevada, Reno. “To be given a full tuition scholarship from a doctor is an honor and privilege,” Albanese said. “I am so humbled by and grateful for the Bacchus family putting their faith in me before ever knowing me. Their generosity speaks to the collaborative spirit of Las Vegas. I look forward to giving back to Nevada and the healthcare profession.”

First Endowed Scholarship For Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV

Jim and Toni Campton

Jim and Toni Campton have established the first endowed scholarship to benefit the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, the Campton Family Endowed Scholarship.

This legacy scholarship was made in memory of Jim’s late parents, Roy and Sadie Campton, and his older brother, Dennis G. Campton, MD.  Dr. Campton was a prominent physician in Las Vegas during its early years and a driving force behind the creation of the hospital in Pahrump. Since Jim’s parents never had the advantages in life that he and his siblings have had, Jim and Toni created this scholarship to help medical students obtain their degrees, so they, in turn, can continue to help others as physicians.  As an endowed fund, the scholarship will make awards in perpetuity.

Jim and Toni met in 1958 in Okinawa while Jim was stationed there in the U. S. Navy.  They married in 1959, moved back to the U.S., and called Phoenix home until they moved to Las Vegas in 1976.  Jim earned a B.S. in Business Administration from UNLV in 1982.  Toni, formerly Takamine Toshiko, had been a bank teller in Okinawa, and according to Jim, “She is the force that made us save regularly and control our credit spending.  Careful investing has allowed us to make this contribution.”

By making monthly purchases of Southwest Gas stock through their utility statements, the Camptons’ holdings grew significantly over the years. Thanks to an astute suggestion by their financial planner, Vince C. J. Eckelkamp, CFP, and their financial advisor, Craig Lyman, the Camptons were able to create this permanent tribute to his family by making a gift of stock to the UNLV Foundation.

“We are humbled by this thoughtful and forward-thinking investment in our community’s health care,” notes Shawn L. Gerstenberger, Ph.D., acting dean of the medical school. “What a fitting way to honor the Campton Family name by providing scholarships to educate our state’s future physicians."

If you are interested in learning more about endowed scholarships or how stock gifts can be a smart, tax-advantaged way to make a philanthropic investment, please contact Jeffrie Jones, Director of Development, Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, at 702-895-0483, or email her at

Nevada Community Foundation Collaboration Helps Ackerman Autism Center

In cooperation with the Nevada Community Foundation (NCF), the UNLV Medicine Ackerman Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Solutions recently received an anonymous $200,000 gift to benefit the center’s overall operations. “Being able to partner with NCF on this significant investment in the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV’s Ackerman Autism Center has been a win-win for everyone involved,” notes Maureen Schafer, chief of staff at the Kerkorian School of Medicine. “We are very grateful to the donor for making it possible for us to see more patients and expand our services with this gift. We also appreciate the Nevada Community Foundation and their staff for helping to raise awareness of this important program for our community among their donors.”

Opened in July 2016 as a partnership between the school and Grant A Gift Autism Foundation, the Ackerman Autism Center provides state-of-the-art diagnostics, treatment, behavioral and vocational training, support programs, and education for infants to young adults with autism and neurodevelopmental challenges. In just over 12 months, the center has seen over 2,600 patients in almost 7,800 patient visits.

Foundation Collaboration

New programs at the center have also been implemented during the past year, including the Early Start Denver Model and telehealth services. The Early Start Denver Model provides an early and comprehensive behavioral intervention approach for children with autism from ages 12 to 48 months.  

For its new telehealth program, the Ackerman Autism Center is collaborating with Hart Robotics, LLC and Grant A Gift Autism Foundation to extend the reach of the center’s services into the community. Telehealth is being used to educate families in their own homes about their child’s therapy, to provide individual therapy services to the child, and to provide supervision and observation sessions for these families.

About one in 68 U.S. children has a disorder on the autism spectrum, developmental disabilities which can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. More than 4,750 Clark County residents, between the ages of 3 and 21 have been diagnosed with autism.

To learn more about the Center and its services, please visit the website or call 702-998-9505.

Tim and Lisa Jones

Helping Others Lead Healthier, And More Active Lives

Tim and Lisa Jones are creating The Lisa and Tim Jones Inflammatory Disease Endowment through their estate plan to enable the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV to better understand the causes of inflammatory diseases, to diagnose these disorders earlier and more accurately, and to identify better ways to prevent and/or treat individuals afflicted by inflammatory diseases so they can lead healthier, and more active, productive lives.

Looking after others’ health and well-being comes naturally to Lisa and Tim Jones. Lisa had a 27-year career with the Nevada State Health Division. Tim served as Corporate Executive Director for Safety & Health at MGM Resorts International for 11 years – after more than 20 years with Employers Insurance Company of Nevada.

Tim, a former collegiate athletic trainer who volunteered for several years with the Arthritis Foundation in Nevada, and Lisa, a former collegiate basketball player, have seen how inflammatory diseases, like arthritis, can create serious health challenges for individuals and reduce their quality of life.

Through their support of this endowment at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, they are making a personal commitment to help the more than 53 million men, women and children in the United States who live with inflammatory diseases, like arthritis, and the families who support them.

Community Support Founding Scholarship Drive: A Monumental Success

The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Founding Scholarship drive, launched in April 2015, wrapped up months ahead of schedule and raised twice as many scholarships as targeted when 41 local businesses, physician groups, families and community leaders made commitments to fund all 60 scholarships needed for the school’s charter class — plus 75 more for the next three classes. In all, the school raised $13.5 million for 135 scholarships. Kris Engelstad McGarry, trustee of the Engelstad Family Foundation made a $10 million pledge to fund 100 scholarships — 25 for the school’s 2017 charter class and 25 for each of the next three entering classes. Each scholarship is an estimated $100,000.

Donor Stories

“In a state starving for doctors, expectations will be high for the school’s first students. We need to attract the best high-quality students in Nevada and across the nation that will elevate the school’s reputation and set the tone for long-term success. These scholarships will significantly increase the quality and volume of the applicants we will receive and will benefit the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV and our future student pool.”

Dr. Barbara Atkinson, Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Founding Dean

Founding Scholarship Donors

  • Debra and Gary Ackerman
  • Hope Anstett
  • Amir S. Bacchus, MD and Colleen M. Bacchus
  • Barbara F. Atkinson, MD, Founding Dean
  • Diana L. Bennett
  • MaryKaye Cashman
  • Children's Heart Center Nevada
  • Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada
  • Jeri S. and Richard T. Crawford
  • Dignity Health – St. Rose Dominican Hospitals
  • Engelstad Family Foundation
  • Thomas E. and Mary K. Gallagher Foundation
  • Randy A. Garcia
  • Susan N. Houston
  • Drs. Florence and Gard Jameson
  • Leonard M. Jessup
  • Andrew Scott "Andy" Katz*
  • John C. Kish Foundation
  • Gregory T. H. and Dana S. Lee
  • Irene and Duncan R. Lee
  • Richard and Claire MacDonald
  • The Tony and Renee Marlon Charitable Foundation
  • Frank and Bonnie Martin
  • Robert L. and Paula Mendenhall
  • Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Murphy, III
  • Ted and Maria Quirk
  • Russell M. Rowe, Esq.
  • N. Sanchez Medical Research Corporation
  • Maureen E. Schafer
  • Don and Dee Snyder
  • TAM Trust
  • UNLV Alumni Association
  • VA Clinic Associates, LLC
  • WellHealth Quality Care
  • Wells Fargo
  • Women's Cancer Center of Nevada
  • Women's Health Associates of Southern Nevada
  • Michael and Renee Yackira
  • Jim M. Zeiter

* deceased

Donor Profiles

Nephi Sanchez

The N. Sanchez Medical Research Corporation: A Founding Scholarship at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV

Joan and Dr. Joe Lapan

The Joan and Dr. Joe Lapan Pediatric Endowment at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV

Jeri S. and Richard T. Crawford

The Jeri S. and Richard T. Crawford Scholarship: A Founding Scholarship at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV



Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Founding Dean Barbara Atkinson, MD, received the most anticipated phone call in her two and a half years at the new Kerkorian School of Medicine on October 18 – the call from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) letting her know the medical school received preliminary accreditation and could begin accepting applications for its charter class.

To celebrate this landmark milestone, Dean Atkinson and UNLV President Len Jessup recently gathered with more than 120 special guests to thank everyone for the important roles they each played in the medical school’s success. At the gracious invitation of our hosts and donors Sandra and Steven Hardie, community advisory board members, civic and government leaders, donors and faculty celebrated at the Hardies’ home in Summerlin. President Jessup and Dean Atkinson expressed their gratitude for the countless hours, energy and resources everyone had invested in securing the school’s accreditation.

Innovation: United Health Foundation

United Health Foundation recently awarded a five-year $3 million grant to help the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV plan three multi-specialty community clinics to provide access to care for underserved areas with large Medicaid populations and to develop three new innovative educational programs in population health, bioethics and hospitality in health care.

The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV community clinics will serve as the clinical training sites for the school's third-year medical students, who will spend an entire year in the outpatient clinics taking care of patients under faculty and resident supervision.

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United Health Foundation

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises and manages private funds for the benefit of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Tax ID# 94-2790134.