Paul Aizley, 87, former three-term Nevada Assemblyman and longtime UNLV math professor, died April 23, 2023. Aizley received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree at University of Arizona, and a doctorate from Arizona State University. With his wife, Sari, Aizley formed the Southern Nevada chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1980s. He was also involved in the effort to establish Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, and he developed the OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) program while serving as dean of UNLV’s Continuing Education Division.
James (Jim) Cross, longtime faculty member in UNLV’s marketing and international business department, died April 2023. Cross will be remembered by many across campus for his reliable and calm nature. He earned his doctoral degree in marketing and his MBA from the University of Minnesota. He began his career working as a market analyst in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and five years later shifted into teaching as an assistant professor at Arizona State University. He joined UNLV as an associate professor of marketing in 1989 and had been with UNLV since then. Over the course of his more than 30-year career at UNLV, he was a foundational member of the department. He served in various leadership roles, including eight years as department chair and director of the MBA program.
Paul Dzerk, retired supervisor of UNLV Grounds’ tree crew, died in October 2022 at the age of 84. Dzerk served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years prior to joining UNLV in the 1980s. While at UNLV, he worked in the landscape, grounds, and arboretum department as an arborist and supervisor. In July 2019, he retired after 35 years. The tree crew is responsible for maintaining the 4,000-plus trees planted across UNLV’s 335-acre campus. Dzerk often trained new recruits, teaching them how to properly (and safely) climb or prune the trees. During his time at UNLV, the campus received designations as an official arboretum and as a Tree Campus USA from the Arbor Day Foundation; In December, the grounds team planted Dzerk’s favorite tree, a water oak, in his honor along the Academic Mall, near the UNLV Amphitheater.
Clarence Gilyard, 66, film and theatre professor, died Nov. 28, 2022, after a long illness. Gilyard had a career in television, film, and theater that spanned more than 30 years. He earned his bachelor’s in theatre arts from California State University, Dominguez Hills. After 13 years as the co-star of two successful television series, Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger, he took a sabbatical and completed an MFA in theatre performance at Southern Methodist University. Film credits include Top Gun and Die Hard. While teaching acting at UNLV, he remained active as a professional and directed productions for Nevada Conservatory Theatre.
Robert Justin Hersh, 35, an associate principal at TSK Architects, died October 2022 as a result of complications from a stroke. Hersh, ’09 BS and ’11 Master of Architecture, was the architectural project manager for the recently completed Kirk Kerkorian Medical Education Building, a striking and inviting $120 million venue for the training of medical doctors for generations to come at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV.
Marla Jordan (DaVee) Hudgens, 40, ’08 JD died Nov. 16, 2022. Hudgens clerked for Nevada Supreme Court Justice James W. Hardesty before joining Lionel Sawyer & Collins in Las Vegas as an associate attorney in 2010. In 2014, she joined Lewis Roca, which returned her to her hometown of Reno and ultimately led her to Phoenix, Arizona, where she made partner in 2017. She practiced administrative and regulatory law. She was passionate about humanitarian causes, working especially with sovereign Indian tribes during the pandemic. In her shortened career, she established a reputation for integrity, intelligence, her sharp wit, and working tirelessly in the name of truth and justice.
Robert Vincent Jones, 75, ‘74 BS Education and '78 M.Ed. Educational Administration, died Oct. 20, 2022, in St George, Utah. He taught many years at Bowler Elementary in Moapa, Moapa Valley High School and W. Mack Lyon Middle School in Overton. He coached volleyball, basketball and track and field for over 35 years.
Pat Moreo, '69 BS Hotel Administration and '83 Ed.D., a professor of hospitality, died March 24 in Sarasota, Florida. Moreo was in the first class of the then-named UNLV Hotel College. He served on the UNLV faculty at various points since the 1980s, including as associate dean and director of the graduate program. He also taught at Penn State, New Mexico State, and South Florida universities. He received the Meek Award for lifetime achievement in hospitality education from the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education.
Kurt Rasmussen, a professor in the UNLV School of Music, died in November of a longerm illness. Rasmussen taught the UNLV Brazilian ensemble Mocidade Rebelde (“young rebels") and world percussion classes. He leaves a five-decade legacy of percussion performance and toured with musician including Paul Anka, Quincy Jones, Kenny G., Natalie Cole, and Diana Ross. He was a percussionist for 15 years with Cirque Du Soleil’s O, regularly brought Cirque performers to UNLV, and helped students build connections at the productions on the Strip. Under his direction, Mocidade Rebelde performed at many festivals and professional engagements around Las Vegas, including at the Latin Grammys.
Daniel Ware, a scene shop supervisor in UNLV’s theatre department, died February 2023. Ware was a champion of student workers and a committed craftsman who delivered shows under budget and on time. His previous positions included master carpenter at George Street Playhouse, technical director of a national and international tour of Tap Dogs, and carpenter at many other venues. His love for theater started at Skidmore College, where he received a BFA in history. Before joining UNLV, Ware was the costume and prop rental supervisor for PCPA, where he worked with his wife Lynn Ware, a UNLV theatre alumna and the resident technical director of UNLV’s Performing Arts Center.
Walter Charles Vodrazka Sr., 89, professor emeritus of civil engineering, died Dec. 21, 2022. Vodrazka earned a BS in civil engineering from Manhattan College, an MS in civil engineering from Mississippi State University and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Purdue University. He worked on several large engineering projects across the U.S. before teaching at University of Texas at Austin and University of Wisconsin at Platteville. At UNLV, he served as associate dean of the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering and as the faculty advisor for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Chapter. He was an active member of ASCE and the National Society of Professional Engineers, for which he served on local, state and national boards and committees.