When the UNLV Foundation was launched in November 1981, there were no emails, tweets, or texts announcing its formation. There was no story on the UNLV website -- there was no UNLV website. Thirty years ago, IBM was releasing its first personal computer and the Internet was in its infancy. Needless to say, times have changed.
Over the past 30 years, UNLV has changed in amazing ways, too, and many of the landmark buildings and programs that have transformed the face of the university are the result of private gifts made through the UNLV Foundation.
The mission of the Foundation remains the same: to raise and manage private funds for the benefit of UNLV thus enhancing its quality and strengthening its missions of teaching, research, and community service.
"The Foundation was started by a group of visionary local citizens who recognized that state funding alone simply couldn't keep up with the growth of UNLV or the needs of the community," said Nancy Strouse, UNLV Foundation executive director. "One of the first to answer that call was local developer and businessman Irwin Molasky, who not only is responsible for creating much of the Las Vegas skyline, but also is a key figure in the development of UNLV."
Strong University Key to Las Vegas
Molasky donated 45 acres of land at Flamingo Road to expand the university's campus.
As an innovative developer in the throes of a burgeoning business and rapidly growing metropolis, Molasky recognized that in order for Las Vegas to thrive, a strong hometown university was essential. The Foundation's original board of 18 business and civic leaders quickly grew to more than three dozen.
"At the core was an enormous need that had to be addressed if Las Vegas was going to be the type of place we envisioned for our families, our employees, our clients, and their families," Molasky explained. "We needed a great university to create a smart workforce, to attract out-of-town talent, to offer culture, and to meet challenges. Without a better UNLV, we couldn't expect a better life in Las Vegas. We all shared that goal. We all wanted to succeed."
In its first year, the Foundation raised $800,000 in support of UNLV. Over the past 30 years, it has cumulatively raised more than $800 million. The university's endowment now tops $100 million. Signs of this extraordinary support are evident in named buildings throughout campus; in thousands of scholarships that have been awarded; and in myriad new initiatives and programs. But numbers don't tell the whole story.
Kristen Tardio, a third-year student in the Honors College, can speak to the importance of these contributions. "Many students rely on private scholarships and programs created through private gifts. With such support, they can succeed in ways they never before thought possible."