The Langston Hughes poem “Harlem” always comes to mind when I think of higher education, our students here at UNLV, and our role in helping grow the economy of Southern Nevada and the Silver State.
We recently hosted a summit of state business leaders to explore the workforce issues they face and ensure that we offer high-demand degrees and certificate programs for the 21st-century economy — programs that integrate workforce readiness and promote active student participation in career planning.
Business leaders have big dreams for economic growth and diversity in Southern Nevada and are asking for programs that blend traditional, technical elements with transferable skills like leadership, interpersonal communication, problem-solving, collaboration, and emotional intelligence.
They also need us to aim our ever-growing research enterprise and faculty at solving problems, improving the lives of our people, and fueling the diversification of our economy.
We are listening. Throughout these pages, you’ll find the proof.
Take, for example, the healthcare sector, which is projected to account for 14.7% of GDP in Southern Nevada by 2060, up from 10.7% today. Just some of the ways we’re supporting that: by expanding the capacity of our medical school and other healthcare programs to graduate home-grown professionals; by launching effective student programs to ensure their success in STEM fields; and by producing research that sheds light on important aspects of care.
We’re also making sure our students understand their state beyond Las Vegas. Over the summer, our Honors College led a unique field trip through Nevada to immerse students in issues that are both wide ranging and interconnected. For example, the state is looking to its endowment of minerals like lithium to spur economic growth, but how will these future leaders take into account the competing interests of the people living on these lands?
The future of higher education will depend on our ability to meet the needs of a continuously shifting job market. All the while, UNLV will continue to focus on groundbreaking research that improves the quality of life, stimulates discovery, generates efficiencies, or advances society.
I believe in UNLV, in this dynamic and innovative community, and in our collective potential to graduate students who will make a difference in Nevada, the region, and beyond. And I believe that our programs truly imbue our students with a deep appreciation for what home means in Nevada.
Please stay connected and engaged with UNLV as we continue our progress to support Nevada’s growing economy.
Keith E. Whitfield
Volunteering through UNLV’s Alumni Engagement office offers a way for you to make a difference in the community and UNLV. There are numerous ways to volunteer — from helping out for a few hours at an event, serving on committees, mentoring students, or joining the board of directors. Learn how by visiting the Alumni Engagement website.