Incoming freshman had a few choices in the fall 1957 semester. They could matriculate into the colleges of Agriculture, Arts and Science, Education, or Engineering, or the Mackay School of Mines. The more than 100 courses would get you going as a freshman or sophomore, but until 1965, students who wanted a four-year degree were still required to spend at least one semester in Reno.
Nevadans taking more than six credits had to come up with $100 in fees for the semester; no tuition. Chemistry 101 cost an extra sawbuck. But they didn’t have campuswide Wi-Fi, so it’s kind of a push.
From its earliest days as Nevada Southern (“Your Regional Division of the University of Nevada” as the tagline proclaimed) UNLV stood apart. Sometimes against its own will. Though it strived toward independence from its earliest days, Nevada Southern was often an afterthought in the state. The balance of power heavily favored the north in Nevada Southern’s Tumbleweed Tech era.
But just as statewide demographics would eventually shift the balance of political power ever-so-southward, it would do the same in education. By the time it became the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1969, the school was over 5,000 students — a tenfold increase from the year campus opened in 1957.
Through growth in the 1970s and ’80s to the 1990 NCAA National Championship to Las Vegas’ boom years of the early 2000s, growth — sometimes steady, sometimes breakneck — has been the constant.
Here we are, 60 years, 122 buildings, 30,000 students later, driving toward Top Tier status, an initiative that will raise UNLV into the cohort of premier research universities in the United States.
This is how we got here.