Dr. Bo Bernhard Named Interim Associate Vice President for Economic Development

Sep. 23, 2020


Dr. Bo Bernhard has been named Interim Associate Vice President for Economic Development, effective October 1, 2020.

In this role, Bernhard will lead a team that will tackle the vast economic recovery, development, and innovation challenges facing the state, and just as he has during his time as executive director of the UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI), he will do so by building bridges with the community and the state’s economic ecosystem. Bernhard will maintain his leadership role with IGI, while also overseeing the teams at the newly-opened Black Fire Innovation, the Nevada Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UNLV, and the UNLV Research Foundation.

During his time at the IGI, Bernhard has overseen a remarkable growth period. His team has grown from 2 members to 38, and the IGI now houses award-winning centers of excellence and initiatives in research, innovation, policy, regulation, diversity and inclusion, problem and responsible gaming, and leadership. During his tenure, the IGI’s innovation labs have produced more issued U.S. patents than any other higher education research lab in the state.

On a personal level, Bo’s family goes back five generations in Nevada, and he has been learning on the UNLV campus since his parents served as Upward Bound counselors in Tonopah Hall. A proud product of the Clark County School District, Bo later attended Harvard University, where he captained the baseball team, won an MVP award on the nationally-ranked soccer team, earned a double major in sociology and psychology, and wrote a magna cum laude thesis on the socio-economic impacts of the gaming industry in Las Vegas. The foundations of this analysis have since been extended worldwide, and by the age of 30, Dr. Bernhard had lectured on his research on six continents.

Over the course of his career, Bernhard’s efforts have earned him several awards, including the top teaching and research awards at the Harrah College of Hospitality, the Denken Career Award for Research, and the Barrick Scholar Award. He is the only professor at UNLV to have won both the Spanos Award (given annually to the university’s top teacher) and the Harry Reid Silver State Research Award (the university’s top career research award).

Lori Olafson, Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development says, “We are happy to have Bo in this expanded role and look forward to his leadership during this interim period.”

Bo is filling the position held most recently by Zach Miles, who will leave UNLV at the end of September to join Oklahoma State University.

“Zach has been a true professional over the past six years," says Lori. "I’ve often counted on his wise counsel for all manner of issues. We wish Zach well in his new journey, and we thank him for his incredible contributions to UNLV and to economic development in Southern Nevada.”