UNLV gets $14 million grant to aid nonprofits

Fourteen million dollars can do a lot of good, and so it was with much fanfare Wednesday that UNLV's leaders announced such a gift to the university.

"Today is one of those game-changing days for the university," UNLV President Neal Smatresk told a crowd of community leaders and dignitaries.

The money, from the Lincy Foundation, a nonprofit formed by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, will help establish the Lincy Institute on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

Smatresk said he and William Boldt, vice president for university advancement, had been working with the foundation for more than a year to flesh out an arrangement.

The institute, which will report to the vice president for research and graduate studies, is expected to employ several executives, a full-time grant writer and a dozen faculty members, as well as graduate and undergraduate student assistants. Those hires have yet to be made.

Its purpose will be to bring the university's resources together with those of local nonprofits, with a particular emphasis on education, health care, social systems and public policy.

It will help coordinate community outreach efforts and research done by the university, and will help find funding sources for state nonprofit agencies.

Smatresk noted that other universities have established similar institutes, but they are usually housed within a single college at the university. This one will instead focus on coordinating efforts from the entire university.

For example, if an outreach effort in the College of Education should be coordinating with a similar effort done by the psychology department, the institute's people would know what both groups were doing.

Similarly, two separate nonprofits might better serve their clients by working together through the institute, university officials said.

Before the gift or the institute become formal parts of the university, they must be approved by the higher education system's governing Board of Regents. Approval is expected at the next regents meeting, set for next month.

Board President James Dean Leavitt said at Wednesday's event that "this gift is about changing lives today and tomorrow."

The institute will be housed in the new Greenspun Hall, where it will partner with another institute. Though it is widely believed that the Brookings Institution, an internationally known think tank, will be the second part of the grouping, UNLV officials are holding back on a formal announcement until Sept. 8.

Anthony Mandekic, chairman of the Lincy Foundation, noted that the gift is being made in honor of longtime Kerkorian friend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid told the group that he was "glad to be part of this wonderful day."

Kerkorian, the majority shareholder in MGM Mirage, did not attend the festivities.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.