Donald Moyer, an educator from New Mexico, was the first official president of the institution, then called Nevada Southern University.
Moyer spent much of his time working with students to elevate the campus experience. During his tenure, the first on-campus housing facility, Tonopah Hall, was built. He also secured funds for other buildings, including the original Student Union, which was later dedicated to him.
Moyer is credited with launching the hotel administration program at UNLV, which ultimately attracted the interest of Las Vegas' booming tourism industry. In later decades, resort executives would play a major role in fundraising for UNLV. Moyer raised money for the Performing Arts Center and laid the groundwork for intercollegiate football. Additionally, he worked to create the Nevada Southern Land Foundation, led by banker E. Parry Thomas, which used state funds to buy much of the 334-acre campus that UNLV has today.
Hulse, James W.; Goodall, Leonard; and Allen, Jackie. Reinventing the System: Higher Education in Nevada. University of Nevada Press, 2002.
Moehring, Eugene P. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas: A History. University of Nevada Press, 2007.