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Engelstad Family Foundation Pledges $10 Million for UNLV Med School Scholarships

In less than 60 days, “60 by 16” scholarship drive raises $13.5 million to fund 135 four-year School of Medicine scholarships.
Campus News  |  Jun 17, 2015  |  By Pam Udall
Media Contact: Pam Udall, (702) 895-0719
Bill Boldt, Mark Doubrava, Barbara Atkinson, Kris Engelstad McGarry, Len Jessup, and Kevin Page hold up giant check

From left, UNLV Vice President for Advancement Bill Boldt, Regent Mark Doubrava, UNLV School of Medicine Dean Barbara Atkinson, Engelstad Family Foundation's Kris Engelstad McGarry, UNLV President Len Jessup, and Board of Regent Chair Kevin Page pose with an oversized check June 16, 2015 at the Engelstad Family Foundation Offices in Las Vegas. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

The UNLV School of Medicine scholarship drive wrapped up months ahead of schedule and raised twice as many scholarships as targeted when Kris Engelstad McGarry, trustee of the Engelstad Family Foundation, made a $10 million pledge.

The gift will cover 100 full four-year scholarships - 25 for the school's 2017 charter class and 25 for each of the next three entering classes. Each scholarship is an estimated $100,000.

"The UNLV School of Medicine is one of the most important developments in the history of higher education for Southern Nevada," said Engelstad McGarry. "We want to help students fulfill their dreams of becoming a doctor, while at the same time helping our community."

Investing in Southern Nevada's Future

The Engelstad Family Foundation's $10 million pledge continues its long-standing commitment to supporting higher education. In 2009, the foundation donated more than $12.6 million to create the UNLV Engelstad Scholars program, the largest active scholarship endowment in Nevada. The foundation's combined scholarship gifts to UNLV now stand at $22.6 million.

"We really believe in the power of education," said Engelstad McGarry. "My father was a scholarship recipient. It made a tremendous difference in his life and continued success. We want to give other students the same opportunity while encouraging them to give back to the community in some way."

Scholarship recipients will gain hands-on experience working in nonprofit agencies such as Opportunity Village and Three Square in addition to a full year working in community health clinics across Southern Nevada.

"The gift will help us educate culturally competent physicians," said Dr. Barbara Atkinson, planning dean of the UNLV School of Medicine.

Scholarship Campaign

The UNLV School of Medicine launched its "60 by 16" scholarship drive in April to cover tuition for all 60 students in its charter class. In less than 60 days, the school received commitments from local businesses, physician groups, families and community leaders to fund all 60 scholarships needed for the school's charter class -- plus 75 more. In all, the school raised $13.5 million for 135 scholarships.

"The outpouring of support from the community is truly remarkable," added Dr. Atkinson. "It will help us recruit the best and the brightest students, which is critical for accreditation and for overall program success."

"It has been a tremendous month," said UNLV President Len Jessup. "First, the Nevada Legislature approved the budget request needed to keep the medical school on track, and then Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the state's appropriations legislation on our campus last week. Now, the Engelstad Family Foundation is generously pledging a sizeable gift to help more students receive their education at UNLV. This is truly a community partnership."

The Nevada Legislature recently approved the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents $26.7 million budget request for the UNLV School of Medicine. The startup funds will cover operational costs such as faculty, staff, lab equipment, program development, information infrastructure, insurance, and maintenance. Funds for capital and academic program development will come from private donations and other revenue sources. When the school is fully built out, state money will represent roughly 18 percent of total funding.

UNLV is seeking accreditation to admit a charter class of 60 students in fall 2017, with expansion to 120 students within four years of the school's opening.