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2016: The Year in Review

From a med school on the rise to the world tuning into the Thomas & Mack — 10 moments that marked our year.

Campus News  |  Dec 21, 2016  |  By Jason Scavone

The 2016 Presidential Debate

It took a year of planning, but on Oct. 19, it all came together when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton squared off in the third and final presidential debate of the 2016 election. Campus was a hotbed of activity on debate day and the days leading up to it. Relive what's sure to go down as one of the most significant events in UNLV history with our comprehensive coverage of all things debate-related.

UNLV School of Medicine Hits Milestone

The debate wasn't the only major piece of news on campus that week. Just a day before the candidates were set to take the stage at the Thomas & Mack Center, the UNLV School of Medicine received its preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. That means the school could begin accepting students for its 2017 class, and the public responded in force. More than 650 applications were received in fewer than 10 days, and with cutting-edge technology like virtual anatomy tables and groundbreaking programs at the school's disposal, it's not hard to see why.

$10 Million Donation for Fertitta Football Complex

In what was the single largest gift in the history of the athletic department, the Fertitta family donated $10 million that will fund construction of the new training facility for UNLV football, the Fertitta Football Complex. The pracitce facility could be just the first of two major upgrades for the Rebels — Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the stadium bill into law, which would provide funding for the future home of an NFL franchise, which would be shared with UNLV football.

The Passing of E. Parry Thomas

Banker E. Parry Thomas, who along with partner Jerry Mack, was instrumental in securing the land that UNLV sits on, died Aug. 26 in Idaho at the age of 95. With the Nevada Southern Land Foundation's formation in 1967, Thomas was able to help the university double the size of the campus to more than 300 acres. Of course, Thomas and Mack's $1 million donation was crucial to financing the multi-use complex that bears their name. After his death, the UNLV Foundation created an endowed scholarship to honor Thomas' legacy.

Huge Year for Donations

What happens when more than 10,000 people come together for private pledges and gifts to UNLV? More than $75 million is what. That's great for a single year, but it could represent a new level for contribitions, as over the course of the last two fiscal years, donations broke the $150 million threshold. That's the top mark for fundraising activity tied to the university since its last capital campaign in 2009. With that kind of funding, UNLV was able to create 35 new scholarships, improve facilities and increase endowments. 

Diane Chase Named Provost

Coming to UNLV from the University of Central Florida, Diane Chase was named the university's executive vice president and provost. Chase succeeded acting provost Nancy Rapoport in the school's top academic spot on May 1, when she was tasked with overseeing academic and budgetary policy en route to helping implement UNLV's Top Tier initiative. As an archaeologist, Chase's work on ancient Mayan civilization earned her Central Florida's highest faculty honor, and election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.

A New Skipper at the Helm for Runnin' Rebels

After nine years coaching New Mexico State University, former UNLV asssistant Marvin Menzies returned to the fold in April as the new head coach of the Runnin' Rebels. Menzies had led the Aggies to five straight postseason appearances and five trips to the NCAA tournament. Prior to his turn at NMSU, Menzies spent two years as an assistant in Louisville under Rick Pitino. He takes over a Rebels program that just sent two players to the NBA in the same draft, Patrick McCaw and Stephen Zimmerman Jr. It's the first time two Rebels were tapped for the NBA in the same year since 1991.

Campus Construction Cranks Into Gear

UNLV's newest academic building, Hospitality Hall, broke ground on March 31. Classes are expected to be held in the new beginning by fall 2017. It was a busy year for improvements to campus facilities, with the parking garage at the burgeoning University Gateway opening and a renovation and expansion to the Thomas & Mack Center. Plus, contruction has begun at the U District, which will bring on-campus apartments to UNLV for the first time and, hopefully, jumpstart a revival along Maryland Parkway

UNLV Teams up with Lockheed Martin

Rebels are going to the final frontier. In October, UNLV announced a partnership with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin on work related to space exploration. The five-year partnership will provide up to $5 million for the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering to do work on NASA's next-generation spacecraft, Orion, as well as other exploration-related projects. Orion is currently in development, and is expected to have a launch date around 2023. More than $53 million in awards for research , instruction and training, and other sponsored activity came to UNLV in 2016.

Black Mountain Institute Celebrates 10 Years

UNLV's international literary center entered its 10th year in 2016, and its mission to promote cross-cultural discussion is as vital today as it was the day it was founded. The Institute brought in a robust roster of eight fellows for the year, including former war correspondent David Morris, Iranian fiction and screenwriter Hossein Mortezaeian Abkenar, longtime Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin, and more.