Record $5 million gift establishes endowed position at UNLV

Lang to serve as inaugural Lincy Endowed Chair in Urban Affairs

Wed, Dec 11, 2019 (8:24 a.m.)

A leading Southern Nevada public policy researcher will serve in a newly endowed position at UNLV that was funded by the largest donation of its type in state history. 

The university announced Tuesday that Robert Lang, a UNLV professor of urban affairs and executive director of The Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West, had been named the inaugural Lincy Endowed Chair in Urban Affairs. The position was funded by a $5 million gift from The Lincy Institute, a public policy research organization that operates in the UNLV’s Greenspun College of Urban Affairs. 

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Dr. Robert Lang, Brookings Mountain West, discusses "Big Picture Issues" at Preview Las Vegas, the business forecasting event, sponsored by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce at the Thomas & Mack Center Cox Pavilion on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

In a news release, the university quoted an anonymous donor from The Lincy Institute as saying the gift was “an acknowledgement of the hard work, time, and talents of the entire team at The Lincy Institute, but most especially the dedication of Dr. Robert Lang.” Before coming to UNLV, Lang was a professor and chair of urban planning at Virginia Tech and served as a senior director at Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C. 

“Rob moved his family, uprooted his life and believed in Nevada at a time when we may not have believed in ourselves,” the donor stated in the release. “He has never strayed from the mission of The Lincy Institute, which was to provide facts and data to inform public policy discussions in Nevada. This is an opportunity to thank Rob for all he has done.”

Lang’s work has influenced a number of prominent community and state projects. In a recent example, Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute provided technical support for a new plan to construct an instructional building for the UNLV School of Medicine. That proposal, fueled by $155 million in contributions and commitments from UNLV supporters, involved the creation of a nonprofit development corporation that will construct the building and lease it to UNLV for $1 a year.

“I want to thank the donor for their confidence in and continued support of The Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West, and the evidence-based policies the centers have brought to Nevada,” Lang said in the release. “The endowment acknowledges over a decade of policy impact and provides even more resources for collaboration and partnerships on key policy initiatives that will improve our community for decades to come.”

Lang’s current work includes a collaboration with The Brookings Institution on a project aimed at improving social mobility and enlarging the middle class in Las Vegas. Brookings Mountain West is associated with the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, for which Lang is a senior fellow.

“Decision makers require accurate, timely, and relevant research to create effective public policies that improve the quality of life in Las Vegas, in Nevada, and across our nation,” said Robert Ulmer, dean of the College of Urban Affairs. “The Lincy Endowed Chair recognizes the reputation of a distinguished faculty member, elevates the reputation of our college, and enhances our ability to attract outstanding faculty and students to explore critical public policy issues for our city, state, and nation.”

University officials said the endowment would expand opportunities for engagement and mentorship of students, and would support the launch of an academic, peer-reviewed journal produced by The Lincy Institute and partner faculty members.

The university has scheduled a donor recognition for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the College of Urban Affairs’ first-floor lobby. 

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