Housing projects, vaccinations, systemic change, and economic recovery in Las Vegas were big topics for UNLV during the month of April.
As students carried on with virtual and in-person learning, UNLV continued to be a part of the action on national crises. On-campus inoculation teams progressed in serving both first and second-dose vaccinations to Nevada residents. University experts provided expertise on hospitality and police reform as pandemic restrictions lessened and the Derek Chauvin police brutality trial came to an end. A UNLV student team competed in an international solar homebuilding competition and won third in the world for their design of a dwelling built for military veterans with PTSD. And the university’s medical school was renamed after a Las Vegas icon.
This and more UNLV success stories are highlighted in the latest edition of UNLV Newsmakers.
UNLV Renames Medical School
In mid-May, the university’s medical school officially became the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. The move, encouraged by private donors who have helped fund the school’s construction and student education initiatives, honors the late Las Vegas business leader and philanthropist. The school’s five-story, 135,000 square-foot medical education building, which is currently under construction in the Las Vegas Medical District, will also become the Kirk Kerkorian Medical Education Building.
UNLV Students Have Their Day in the Sun
Solar Decathlon is an international collegiate competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy to recognize new innovations and designs by the next generation of architects. This April, roughly 50 students in architecture, engineering, and other disciplines came together to propel Team Las Vegas to a third-place win during UNLV’s third showdown in the solar homebuilding contest. Advised by architecture professor and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Eric Weber, the design for the team’s 628-square-foot entry, Mojave Bloom, incorporated technological and architectural elements that function as a place of healing and respite for military veterans suffering PTSD and other adverse effects of wartime trauma. Below are a few news outlets that detailed their mission:
- Forbes, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), (three times), Las Vegas Business Press, Fast Company, Pahrump Valley Times, PV Magazine, Las Vegas Sun (twice), KTNV-TV: ABC 13, KVVU-TV: FOX 5
COVID-19 and Vaccines: An Update
As spring continues, so does nationwide vaccination. UNLV has been at the forefront of inoculation by hosting a vaccine distribution site for individuals 18 and older throughout Southern Nevada. As the university completed first-dose vaccinations, UNLV experts talked with local and national news outlets to address vaccine hesitancy, barriers to inoculation, and the safety of current vaccines.
- Michael Gardner, vice dean for clinical affairs at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine and a director of UNLV’s on-campus vaccination site, discussed statewide inoculation parameters:
- Public health professor Brian Labus analyzed COVID-related death rates over the year. Labus also discussed vaccination rates and safety:
- Melva Thompson-Robinson, executive director of the Center for Health Disparities Research, talked about vaccine hesitancy and barriers to inoculation in minority communities with Web MD and The Africa Centre. She also identified the requirements of multiple vaccines for students on Verywell Health.
- Bioethics director Johan C. Bester talked about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine with Insider (twice).
- UNLV Health Law program director David Orentlicher and Cybersecurity program director Greg Moody discussed the pros and cons of vaccine passports and associated privacy concerns with El Tiempo. Orentlicher also identified the reasons behind doctors becoming more risk-averse on Yahoo!.
- Psychologist Gloria Wong-Padoongpatt reported an increase in microassaults on Asian Americans during COVID-19 on Healthline.
- Marc J. Kahn, dean of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, explained the safety behind the J&J vaccine on KSNV-TV: News 3, KVVU-TV: FOX 5, and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now
- Psychologist Stephen D. Benning, public health professor, Brian Labus, director of bioethics director Johan C. Bester, and communications professor Emma Frances Bloomfield reflected on the various ways that the pandemic has altered our lives for a one-year anniversary feature in commentated on COVID-19 and its alterations on livelihood on The Nevada Independent.
Black Lives Matter: Remembrance & Progress
People around the nation grappled with feelings of relief, mourning, and continued fear as contentious debates surrounding police reform resurfaced during the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, — raising questions about the judicial process and eventual sentencing. UNLV students, faculty, and staff weighed in on the issue, finding ways to memorialize victims of police brutality and shining a light on racial discrimination, toxic masculinity, and avenues to encourage systemic change.
- KLAS-TV: 8 News Now reported on a mural created on campus by UNLV student Dexter Drake to honor victims of police brutality.
- African American and African Diaspora Studies professor Tyler D. Parry discussed the Derek Chauvin verdict and policing reform: VOA, The Nevada Independent, Le DeVoir, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13
- William S. Boyd School of Law’s Bernstein Senior Fellow, Martha E. Menendez, wrote about the death penalty, police brutality, and reforms to the criminal justice system for The Nevada Independent (twice), (three times).
- Journalism and media studies professor Benjamin Burroughs highlighted the importance of livestream videos during the Derek Chauvin murder trial on USA Today.
- KLAS-TV: 8 News Now shared UNLV president Keith E. Whitfield’s statement recognizing the role of police use of force following the trial’s outcome.
- Comments by Frank Rudy Cooper, director of the Race, Gender, and Policing Program, about the role toxic masculinity plays in encounters between male police officers and African Americans were featured in the Washington Post.
COVID and Casinos
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic’s stronghold on daily life, economic recovery for the Las Vegas hospitality industry flourishes. With over half of the American senior population now vaccinated, the influx of older gamblers has dramatically increased. Casinos have now increased capacity limits to 80%, and restaurants and hotels are reawakening the job market. UNLV experts spoke to the media about evolving safety precautions, travel restrictions, and economic projections.
- Amanda Belarmino, assistant professor of hospitality, talked about increased casino capacity and the influx of older gamblers. Belarmino also provided insight on innovative hotel chains to watch as the travel industry rebounds:
- The International Gaming Institute’s Alan Feldman reflected on Las Vegas’s economic rebound on the Daily Mail and KVVU-TV: FOX 5.
- Career Services executive director Eileen McGarry predicted an improved job market outlook for new college graduates on KSNV-TV: News 3.
- Center for Business and Economic Research director Stephen Miller discussed the national rental car shortage due to high tourist demand with Casino.Org. He also spoke to Casino.Org and FOX Business about casinos reopening and hiring employees as confidence in travel is restored.
- Economics chair C. Jeffrey Waddoups went in-depth on restaurants and labor shortage in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
- On Commercial Observer, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality dean Stowe Shoemaker explained the slow comeback for convention centers.
- Anthony Cabot, a distinguished fellow of gaming law, predicted how soon casinos will return to full capacity on Card Player.
- Gaming historians David G. Schwartz and Michael Green reflected on the history of the Tropicana Hotel on AP. KSNV-TV: News 3 also spoke to Schwartz about how the CDC’s newest travel guidelines might impact Las Vegas tourism.
General Expert Roundup
- UNLV president Keith E. Whitfield reflected on his role at UNLV during the pandemic in The Nevada Independent.
- Several UNLV students made the news:
- The UNLV Baja SAE Rebel Racing team debuted their new vehicle for competition on KVVU-TV: FOX 5.
- The Las Vegas Sun interviewed Vanessa McConnell, UNLV journalism student and vice president of programming for the student-run radio station KUNV, on her journey as a mother and college student.
- KLAS-TV: 8 News Now covered UNLV students’ virtual bingo night fundraiser to help pups in need.
- Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy interim executive director Amanda Haboush-Deloye described the impact of limited resources on child neglect to the Las Vegas Sun and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now.
- Law professor Nancy B. Rapoport noted the correlation between corporations’ bankruptcies and bonuses on NBC News.
- The Nevada Independent reported on research professor Kristen Averyt’s legislative testimony surrounding reduced greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas.
- Geology professor emeritus Stephen Rowland encouraged increased federal protection of public lands on KVVU-TV: FOX 5.
- Insider asked Wellness & Integrative Medicine director Anne Weisman about the effects of epsom salt baths.
- Nancy Lough, co-director of UNLV Sports Research and Innovation Initiative, discussed the societal problems of gender bias and gender-influence words on CNBC, Deutschlandfunk, and Fast Company.
- Couple and Family Therapy professor Katherine M. Hertlein advised ways to combat sexual anxiety and tension in Woman & Home Magazine, and Metro (twice), (three times). She also spoke to the Deseret News about the rise of multigenerational homes.
- Didactic Program in Nutrition & Dietetics director Samantha Coogan talked about the nutritional value of wine in Wine Enthusiast.
- Communication studies professor and social media expert Natalie Pennington explained to the Los Angeles Times and Yahoo! why former President Donald Trump’s deactivated Facebook page has become a de facto online memorial.
- Sociology expert Barbara G. Brents talked to the Daily Beast about the pandemic’s impact on Nevada brothels and the online sex industry.
- William S. Boyd School of Law professor Francine J. Lipman highlighted the most tax-friendly states for Moneygeek and the Hazard Herald and answered common questions about the tax process this year for Marketplace.
- Shashi Nambisan, director of the UNLV Transportation Research Center, explained how Charleston Boulevard can be a potential transit region on KNPR.
- Adweek asked marketing professor Anjala S. Krishen about how CPG brands can recreate in-store impulse buying online.
- Sociologist Robert Futrell explained the complexities of rioters’ behaviors behind the Capitol Riot in The Washington Post.
- Ruben Garcia, law professor and labor expert, talked about the incalculable correlation between unions and political parties on NPR.