UNLV felt the love this February as university experts weighed in with fascinating facts about Valentine’s Day, several university leaders and faculty members were honored for their contributions to Black history, and researchers in two units — the Department of Brain Health and College of Education — embraced the community by launching new programs. Read on for a more in depth look at these topics and more.
State of the University Address
UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield kicked the month off on a positive note with his annual State of the University speech on Feb. 1. He outlined highlights of his second year on the job, unveiled a new digital AI version of himself that allows students to “interact” with him online 24/7, and detailed plans to expand the university — starting with a new building for the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering.
- The Las Vegas Sun and KNPR highlighted the key takeaways.
- KTNV-TV: ABC 13 and Inside Higher Ed showcased President Whitfield’s new virtual counterpart, the nation’s first artificial intelligence university leader.
- University expansion plans, including the groundbreaking for a new building for the College of Engineering, were covered by KVVU-TV: Fox 5 and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Be My Valentine?
Valentine's day is known colloquially as the day of giving and receiving gifts and sweets to and from your loved ones. But did you know the history behind how it all began? There’s a UNLV class for that! UNLV experts explained the commercialization of Valentine’s Day over the centuries and the health implications of ingesting all those sweet treats you might receive.
- Communication studies professor Jenny Farrell and Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine therapist Katherine Hertlein told KNPR and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now about a new UNLV class focused on navigating love and relationships.
- History professor Elizabeth White Nelson’s comments about the history of Valentine’s day were picked up by CNET, The Michigan Daily, Teen Vogue, WRAL-TV, Indy Week, Sputnik, and Newsweek.
Shoring Up the Teacher Shortage
While the demand for teachers across Nevada continues, UNLV’s College of Education has created a solution that allows open teaching positions in CCSD to be filled by individuals who are already working in local schools. The Paraprofessional Pathways Project is empowering CCSD support staff and instructional aides to make the transition to a full-time teaching career in as little as one year. Program participants either have an associate's degree or 60 credits of college-level general education courses, and PPP puts them on the fast track to licensure. The combination of in-person, hybrid, and online will help CCSD diversify their workforce and chip away at the more than 800 teaching vacancies.
UNLV’s student body has consistently been recognized as one of the most diverse in the nation. During Black History Month, we celebrated diversity as several staff members were lauded for their impact on the community. In other history news, the Golden Age of Hollywood was brought back to life by UNLV history students.
- UNLV Libraries’ Oral History Research Center director Claytee D. White was recognized by KTNV-TV: ABC 13 and a Boulder City Review opinion letter writer for her role in the Black community in Las Vegas.
- KTNV-TV: ABC 13 and KSNV-TV: News 3 highlighted President Whitfield’s legacy as UNLV’s first Black president.
- The Las Vegas Review-Journal featured law professor Rachel Anderson, the first Black attorney to serve as general counsel for the Nevada attorney general’s office.
- History professor Deirdre Clemente and her students recounted their efforts to preserve and revive Walking Box Ranch, the desert oasis home of 1920s silent film stars Clara Bow and Rex Bell for public tours for KSNV-TV: News 3 viewers.
UNLV and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health were awarded $11.3 million in continuing grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance neuroscience research in Southern Nevada. Since 2015, researchers from the two organizations have partnered to investigate diagnostic methods, health disparities, and therapeutic interventions related to neurodegenerative disorders, including work to better understand commonalities among disorders. The new award, co-led by UNLV Department of Brain Health founding chair Jefferson Kinney and Dr. Aaron Ritter of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, will help launch a second phase focused on further development of existing projects related to biomarker, imaging, and clinical research.
General Expert Roundup
- African American and African Diaspora Studies professor Tyler D. Parry spoke about the history of jumping the broom, a Black wedding tradition, with The New York Times.
- Gaming historian David G. Schwartz provided context to New York Times readers about sports gambling and the NFL.
- KVVU-TV: Fox 5 Vegas reported on a new UNLV program that’s helping foster care youth transition into the workforce.
- The Morning Chalk Up spoke to School of Integrated Health Sciences nutrition sciences professor Samantha Coogan about creatine.
- Las Vegas Weekly highlighted Whisper Rooms, a new communication studies department lab for students to rehearse speeches in a private, soundproof environment.
- Jamie Davidson, associate vice president for student wellness, spoke to Kaiser Health News about mental health resources on college campuses.
- Science Daily, Medical Xpress, Technology Networks, and ANI News covered a new study led by UNLV neuroscientists Rochelle Hines and Dustin Hines that brought science one step closer to developing targeted drug therapies that may reduce seizures, sleep disorders, and related symptoms common in people with intellectual disabilities.
- Shashi Nambisan, director of the UNLV Transportation Center, was a panelist on a Vegas PBS Nevada Week segment about traffic safety.
- Lee College of Business marketing professor Marla Royne Stafford was interviewed by Marketplace about highway exit signs.
- Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine executive director Martin Schiller explained genes and heredity to Giddy.
- Yahoo! picked up an Insider story that shared Johan Bester’s insights on the politicization of ivermectin. Bester, the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine’s director of bioethics, also spoke to the Reno Gazette-Journal about physicians’ roles in the death penalty.
- School of Public Health researcher Amanda Morgan also spoke to Insider about the sexual wellness industry.
- Brett Abarbanel, director of research at the International Gaming Institute, explained to NBC News how the legalization of sports betting has led to an overall increase in betting. She told The Hill and Yahoo! that Super Bowl LVI played a role in skyrocketing sports betting figures.