Calling it "a moment in history for this university and this state," Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 514 into law today in the UNLV Student Union. The bill, along with other measures approved during the 2015 Legislative Session, provides funding to startup the UNLV School of Medicine and to build Hospitality Hall for the Harrah Hotel College. It also provides additional funding for the William S. Boyd School of Law and to launch the International Center for Excellence in Gaming Regulation.
The governor noted that the UNLV funding is part of "investing so we have a healthy and educated citizenry and investing so that we have a vibrant and sustainable economy. But that comes at a price and that's where tough politics comes in; that's where leadership comes in."
He added that "the governor and the people of the state 50 years from now ... are going to look back to this Legislative session in 2015 and say they did it right -- they invested, they showed courage, and they changed the trajectory of this state forever."
School of Medicine
With $26.7 million in operating funds from the state, the UNLV School of Medicine is on track to welcome its charter class in fall 2017. Funds will cover start-up costs including faculty and staff hiring, program operations, and curriculum development. Public money from the state of Nevada will represent only 18 percent of the school's total funding when the program is fully built out.
The school is a key part of meeting the health care needs of Nevada's growing population, particularly in the areas of mental health and addiction, neuroscience, cardiology, cancer and orthopedics. It will also have a local economic impact of more than $1 billion annually and create 8,000 jobs by 2030.
"The School of Medicine is one of the best investments we can make in our own community," UNLV President Len Jessup has said. "It will make this community a healthier place to live and will bring direct economic impact in terms of fostering a biotech economy and keeping our health care dollars local."
Last fall, the school began the 18-month accreditation process and established its Community Advisory Board. The school also received tremendous support from private and corporate donors for its 60 by 16 campaign, which is raising $6 million to fund full-tuition scholarships for the entire inaugural class.
The state is providing $24.4 million for construction of Hospitality Hall, a new academic building for the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Remaining funding for the $56 million project will come from UNLV. The university has already raised nearly $16 million from hospitality industry partners.
The building will feature sweeping views of the Las Vegas Strip and serve as a bridge between the university and the hospitality and gaming industry. Early designs call for about 95,000 square feet of classroom, laboratory, and meeting space. It will be located in the center of campus, west of Beam Hall, which the college currently shares with the Lee Business School.
Groundbreaking for the building is expected this fall.
The appropriation bill also provides $1.5 million each year of the biennium to support UNLV's Boyd School of Law operations, as well as $500,000 per year for a new International Center for Excellence in Gaming Regulation. A partnership between the Law School and Hotel College, the center will offer research and education programming on gaming regulation. It's intended to serve seasoned industry professionals and those new to gaming regulation and to be a resource to regions considering adding gaming to their economic mix.
The Legislature also approved a bill to extend the UNLV Campus Improvement Authority Board for two more years. The board, first approved during the 2013 session, was tasked with evaluating the feasibility and timing of a new stadium on or near campus.
In a message to campus, Jessup stated, "Governor Sandoval and the Legislature made it known this session that education -- from childhood through college -- is a priority in Nevada. The tireless work of so many in our state the past several months will undoubtedly lead to a brighter future for UNLV and for Southern Nevada."