The Rogers name has been synonymous with Southern Nevada for decades, particularly as it relates to philanthropy and education. And right there at the forefront has been Beverly Rogers. Along with her late husband James “Jim” Rogers, Beverly established The Rogers Foundation in 2014 to channel the family’s charitable efforts into public education, literacy, and the arts.
After receiving her undergraduate degree from UNLV while working full time, Beverly embarked on a career in radio and television communications. She married Jim in 1997 and continued her career with Intermountain West Communications. Later, she returned for her 2006 master’s degree in English.
A self-proclaimed bibliophile and recognized expert in Victorian publishing practices, Beverly has helped fund numerous literary and arts projects throughout the community. Perhaps her greatest contribution is to be found in her collaboration with former UNLV President Carol Harter and ongoing support of the now-named Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI).
BMI opened in 2006 with the goal of expanding poetry and fiction curricula. With the Rogers Foundation support, UNLV has been able to expand its number of graduate assistants, offer a generous fellowship program for emerging professional writers, and bring internationally recognized intellectuals to Las Vegas for public events and residencies.
Rogers' legacy can be felt all across her alma mater. UNLV’s first library, named in her honor after its remodeling, now houses the Honors College, English department, and BMI. She has established several scholarships to support post-graduate education in honor of her brother, Donald Barlow, ’07 BA Interdisciplinary Studies.
In September, UNLV announced her latest gift: A $5 million endowment to enhance the rare books collection in UNLV University Libraries and to fund a curator position. In addition, Beverly will donate her personal book collection, valued at more than $1 million. The Rogers collection contains four sub-genres: Victorian First Editions; Joseph Conrad Firsts & Association copies; John Steinbeck Firsts & Association copies; and “Books About Books.” [Read "On the Hunt: Finding the Connections Behind the Collection"]
Of course, UNLV is not alone in benefitting from the generosity of Jim and Beverly Rogers. Their philanthropic efforts touch individuals near and far, from the University of Arizona to Kentucky Wesleyan University as well as the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Nearly three decades after earning your bachelor’s degree in history from UNLV, you returned to get your master’s degree in English. How did that experience impact you?
To return to campus at age 52 was a prospect that brought with it both excitement and more than a little anxiety. My internal conversations included many questions with unknown answers: Could I retain information? Would I be viewed as an outcast by classmates? Would I sound foolish participating in a discussion?
Much to my delight, I quickly discovered that I could indeed retain information, and I did feel like I belonged. That’s because the program was populated with students of all ages, including many working outside academia, some already teaching, and a few who were there for the same reason as I: the exquisite pleasure of learning.
I not only remember the first time I joined in on a discussion, but I remember every subsequent time I did so. These are the profound memories that stay with me today because they’re the moments my self-consciousness and insecurities slipped away. When the professor prodded me to go deeper, when a classmate respectfully argued a point, or when another took my thought another step — that’s when I saw the genuine spirit of a cadre of individuals (professors included) who seek to learn from each other. No one judges. It was a support system unlike few others I’ve encountered.
The bonds and friendships forged through my UNLV master’s experience continue to influence the thoughts and actions in many of my endeavors today. So much so that, were it possible, I’d time-travel to the seminar room on the sixth floor of Flora Dungan Humanities Building and shout out a big ‘thank you’ to every lover of literature who taught me what it means to be openminded.
What does it mean to be a Rebel, and how do you express “Rebel Pride”?
As a lifelong student of the humanities, I am a rebel in a rather unconventional sense. Most importantly, I rebel against the stereotypical notion of Las Vegas as it’s often perceived from the outside — that is, as a city that thrives on debauchery, with little or no cultural and educational infrastructures to spawn future generations of leaders, entrepreneurs, builders, and thinkers. That’s why I’ve made it my life’s goal to help raise the cultural barometer of our community through philanthropic endeavors that stimulate long-term change and generate exponential benefit.
Many of the undertakings of change are channeled through The Rogers Foundation, where we offer scholarships to high school seniors, grants to K-12 public schools, sponsor an awards program for Clark County’s public-school teachers, and support CORE, a nonprofit model that transforms the lives of under-resourced youth.
In addition, my work toward generating long-term change ranges from sponsoring local documentary filmmakers, to supporting various empowerment programs for writers and speakers, to championing leaders in the realms of arts, culture, and education.
I am proud to be a UNLV graduate and grateful to have the opportunity to express that Rebel Pride in each of my daily thoughts and actions. My relationship with UNLV is not transactional; it is relational. I am engaged and connected for the rest of my life.
What’s your message to current and future Rebels?
More than anything, it’s that the value of your degree in the future directly correlates to what you do today. All of your achievements — as a student, as a citizen, in your occupation, in your avocation — become part of the notion that “rising tide that lifts all boats,” an adage that bears as much meaning now as when first proclaimed in 1963.
Your education will provide you with the wherewithal to think independently and to take advantage of available resources, as well as offer you the ability to analyze, research, stretch, and communicate. Your college experience also will open your eyes to the benefit of imagination. Don’t be afraid to use it. Engage with one person, your neighborhood, or beyond. See opportunity when challenged, seize opportunity to build on your dreams, and provide opportunity to those who need a lift.
Finally, never forget that a Rebel acts. So act intentionally, forthrightly, and honestly. If you align your passion with all of your endeavors, you can’t help but make the world better.