On April 8, 2016, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas hosted TEDxUNLV in the Black Box Theater. The theme was “Living in the Extreme” and 180 people crowded the seats to hear 16 speakers and experience three performances throughout the day-long event. During the extended “get-to-know-each-other” breaks, guests could write on the graffiti wall, admire sculpture and art, visit the student live-streamed viewing party, or simply rest and reflect.
This event had an impact on UNLV’s relationship with students, faculty/staff members, and the community. It provided opportunities for students to get actively involved in a major production – highlighting their talents and adding to their resumes along the way. Equally important is the fact that TEDxUNLV drew new volunteers – and donors – to the university.
Speaker applications and nominations came from across the country:
- 63 applications/nominations
- 16 total speakers
- 3 performances
- 3 UNLV faculty members
- 1 UNLV student
- 5 UNLV performers (1 faculty member and 4 students) performed
- 7 out-of-state speakers
UNLV students not only volunteered, they filled key production roles. Three master of fine arts students – Lesley Boeckman, Christian Taylor and Manuel Ramirez – served as production director, set designer, and lighting designer, respectively. Due in part to his role with TEDxUNLV, Manuel was offered a job in New York as a lighting designer.
Students – working with Daniel Grimes at UNLV-TV – ran the production control booth, manned cameras, and called the show. Job prospects become brighter with this kind of experience on one’s resume.
Students in one of the event management capstone classes in the Harrah Hotel College planned and hosted the student viewing party. Again, invaluable experience that can lead to jobs in the future.
Tickets were made available to students through various channels for one or more of the three speaker sessions during TEDxUNLV. Being part of a TEDx event is a memorable, sometimes life-changing experience.
From the very beginning, people from the community were drawn to this project. Three major committees – theme development, speaker selection, and oversight – made the major decisions regarding TEDxUNLV. Of the 23 community members involved in these committees, most had never been on the UNLV campus or been involved with the university in any way.
Community members also participated in one or more of three TEDxUNLV “adventures.” Offerings included a tour of the new UNLV Honors College building and tickets to hear Barrick Lecturer Fareed Zakaria; a backstage peek at MGM’s Ka Theater; and a trip through the past at the Mob Museum. Adventures allow TED enthusiasts to get together and share unique experiences, getting to know one another in the process.
TEDxUNLV was live-streamed and the viewing numbers are impressive. More than 1,300 discrete viewers from 63 countries spent a total of 365 hours watching the speakers. Since the day itself, viewers have continued to watch the recording with similar results: 1300 viewers, 49 countries, with a total of 228 viewing hours. That’s before the videos even go up on YouTube!
TEDxUNLV provides potential donors with a unique opportunity for giving. Not an academic activity or athletic endeavor, TEDxUNLV is truly a community-centered event. The TED brand has such cachet that companies are eager to become sponsors. This year we had 20 sponsors that made cash donations or gave materials – many of them donating to the university for the first time.