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UNLV president highlights progress in annual speech

In 1955, Las Vegas high school seniors went door to door asking people to donate to a budding idea: a university in southern Nevada.

Supporters of the initiative turned on their porch lights.

University founder Maude Frazier’s Porch Light Campaign was one historical moment UNLV President Len Jessup highlighted in his state of the university speech to show 60 years of progress for the school.

“It’s unbelievable,” Jessup said. “Maude Frazier’s vision and her grit got us to where we are today. … Just imagine what we’ll all accomplish together in the next little bit.”

Speaking to a crowd of about 550 people in the Judy Bayley Theatre, Jessup’s speech largely focused on recent accomplishments that he believes will boost UNLV’s status as a research university.

This week, UNLV was listed in a three-way tie on the annual U.S. News and World Report list that ranks schools by ethnic diversity. Details continue to emerge on the university’s long-term partnership with the Oakland Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board. Conversations are beginning about the research that will be done by a new bipartisan think tank chaired by for Sen. Harry Reid and former U.S. Rep. John Boehner.

As for the next 60 years, Jessup said he envisions the university growing from 30,000 to 40,000 students. More student housing will need to be built to support that growth, as well as an expanded student union. Jessup also sees the need for development of another 2,000-acre research park in North Las Vegas.

Jessup said UNLV’s location in the epicenter of Las Vegas will fuel the growth.

“This is a special university, and we have before us a very special opportunity to make a difference,” Jessup said. “And that’s our responsibility to do so.”

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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