This column by UNLV President Neal Smatresk was originally published in UNLV Magazine, Spring 2012 issue.
The past few years have been hard for Nevada and Nevadans. All of us have experienced the impacts of the recession and budget cuts, and we have struggled to keep things moving forward. Despite the hard times, I have been impressed with the resilience and strength of our community. Las Vegas is a city built on dreams and hard work, and the entrepreneurial heartbeat of our city is alive and well.
As the city looks up and asks, "What's next?" the connections between UNLV and our community have never been stronger. UNLV has been working hard to help put together the governor's vision for a more diversified economy, supporting the downtown renaissance that has seen the emergence of Zappos, and the Ruvo and Smith centers, and launching innovative educational programs to better prepare our students for a new economy.
Las Vegas and Nevada increasingly see a strong UNLV as a critical part of our future and understand that this is the right time to invest in our young university. The most tangible evidence of this is the generosity of a distinguished Nevada family that decided to invest in the university's future by making a very special gift. The generosity of the Lee family is having an immediate impact in our community and the region, transforming the College of Business into the Lee Business School.
Through this gift, the school can offer premium scholarships to attract the brightest students, recruit trailblazing faculty, and create the Lee Thought Leaders Lecture Series and the Lee Visiting Professors program, which will bring business visionaries to Las Vegas (see Page 22 for more information about the Lees, their gift, and their dream).
Members of the Lee family, known for their ability to recognize opportunity early and seize it, made this gift as a show of faith. Like the Lees, we can see beyond our short-term difficulties to the promise of the future.
We are now on more stable financial ground with a sustainable budget. The Lee family's gift is one reason we can say this with confidence. There are other reasons as well. We have been prudent and strategic, investing limited resources well, and we are starting to see the returns on our investments.
Our focus on discovery and entrepreneurship is leading to greater economic diversification and the creation of new businesses.
Our partnership with the Brookings Institution has expanded, enhancing our reputation and impact at the local, regional, and national levels.
Our academic focus has improved as we identify our strengths and ensure that they are supported.
Other angel investors are stepping up, making it possible to retain and recruit outstanding faculty.
We have fought through this crisis and together we are rebuilding our city and our university into something more -- more focused, more responsive, and more impactful.
Take a look through these pages at our university. Our students are building the future and our graduates are making a difference. Renewed hope can be found in every success.