When I accepted the job as acting president, I did so with the understanding that I would not be a “seat warmer.” That is not who I am, and it is not what UNLV is. Our entire history has been about forging ahead when others thought we could not — and would not — succeed.
After 21 years of serving as a professor and administrator at UNLV, Las Vegas is my home, and I am committed to ensuring the university’s continued trajectory toward Top Tier status.
We are a growing university with tremendous aspirations, so it’s natural to have growing pains. We are navigating through our challenges with the knowledge that they are the result of much work that elevated this university to greater heights.
This past year has not been easy, in many ways. Leadership changes — though inevitable — are always unsettling, and Oct. 1 represents the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that indelibly marked us. The outpouring of generosity and love by our university that evening — and for the difficult days that followed — was breathtaking and reflected so much of who we are. In the first few hours after the Oct. 1 shooting, UNLV staff members sprang into action. Police Services, Thomas & Mack staff, and the many professionals on campus with crisis counseling training all helped survivors get through the darkest night of their lives.
And then the UNLV academic community began to do what they do best: applying their resources and skills to better understand our world. Whether they are psychologists seeking ways to help people cope with trauma or historians making sure important stories and data are preserved for the future, UNLV faculty are examining the lessons in the tragedy. I have no doubt their work will prove vital in the years to come.
For more than six decades, the mission of UNLV has been steadfast: to create meaningful, transformative experiences for our students as we prepare them for highly successful and socially impactful lives. Student success will continue to be at the center of our Top Tier efforts. Sometimes the focus on student success is seen as a pivot away from the research message, but it is not one or the other. The student and research missions must co-exist for us to thrive, and make a difference in people’s lives.
Socioeconomic status has long been the biggest predictor of college success. So the fact that UNLV has a high number of students who are the first in the families to go to college or who struggle financially is a motivating force for me and for UNLV. It gives us the opportunity to become a leader in changing that national narrative. Throughout these pages, you’ll find examples of how we are already rewriting that story — with the proof being in the success of our students, our faculty, and ultimately, our graduates.
We have much to be proud of and can accomplish much more together. I want to thank you — our alumni and supporters — for being a critical partner in this journey. Your tenacity, resiliency, passion, and kindness give us the inspiration to move ever forward.
Acting UNLV President