Putting the “U” in UNLV is how acting President Marta Meana described those at the university who are helping bring it future successes.
The faculty, staff and the students are the hearts of the university, said Meana, who Thursday highlighted success stories during her nearly 45-minute State of the University address.
“It’s all the work they do collectively that promotes our vision and the mission of this university, which is to be a top-tier institution,” she said.
Meana said she’s going to continue the trek toward becoming a top public university, as laid out before her tenure began this summer. Here’s how:
Despite the change of leadership at the school, which Meana noted is always a challenge, she is not willing to be a seat warmer and stand still in her acting role. Her goal, much like that of former president Len Jessup, is to achieve Tier-1 university status.
“Our entire history has been about forging ahead when others thought we could not and would not succeed,” Meana said. “I am betting on our community, our faculty, our staff and our students … and the momentum that makes me so proud to be part of UNLV.”
UNLV will embark on a resource-mapping exercise this academic year to identify the resources it needs to achieve strategic goals. The plan includes identifying revenue sharing, personnel and space needs and other priorities.
A lot of those goals rely on successful research results at UNLV, new facilities and other key aspects.
Those include capital improvement projects such as a continued push for the UNLV School of Medicine, which was modified into a two-prong approach last month, a new engineering building to service one of the fastest growing colleges on the campus and an interdisciplinary research building with lab spaces that promote interdisciplinary collaboration.
Additionally, a cost-benefit analysis is being conducted to explore the possibility of expanding the student union.
Part of making UNLV one of the top public universities is creating a more university feel surrounding campus.
The university corridor is a long-term project being built out strategically, Meana said. The first phases are under construction, with the office building expansion to the parking garage across from In-N-Out Burger on Maryland Parkway and the new student housing center located off Cottage Grove Drive.
These new structures will expand UNLV’s reach across new sections in and around Maryland Parkway, giving a more college feel to the area.
Giving the university area better recognition, Swenson Street will be renamed to University Center Drive, from the airport to Desert Inn Road.
“What this is becoming is a university district, that’s our goal,” she said. “To have this entire part of the city to be centered with all the great things we do. The university, it’s iconic corner is on that street, so we thought it would be wonderful to start identifying this university district with that street name."
Mentioned several times throughout Meana’s speech were the donors who make many of the large projects a possibility.
After the change of power in the summer, funding for university-related projects such as the medical school, were in doubt.
Meana singled out a $5 million donation by Boyd Gaming last week to UNLV Athletics, which was the largest ever corporate donation in the school’s athletics history, as a highlight during her short time as president.
With the planned medical school located off Shadow Lane near downtown a priority and relying heavily on donors, Meana hopes the generosity doesn’t stop with the president change.
"It was important to highlight them because they’ve done incredible things for us,” she said. “The donors have been very generous, and there’s a lot of things that we couldn’t have done without their support. I am massively grateful for everything they’ve done for our university and I hope that they continue to support us the way they always have.”