UNLV plans a campaign to raise more than $500 million to help finance Southern Nevada’s first medical school, a major on-campus football stadium/entertainment center and other major campus improvements, the university’s president said Wednesday.
Neal Smatresk, president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, confirmed what he described as an effort in the “exploratory” stage.
Smatresk said the university wants to quietly raise 50 percent of the money from donors before launching a high-profile public campaign that could come a few years down the road.
UNLV will spend the next three or four years identifying needs at its colleges, and then set fundraising goals based on those needs, said Bill Boldt, vice president for university advancement. Boldt worked on similar capital campaigns at other universities before coming to Las Vegas in 2007.
UNLV raised $537 million in its most recent campaign, which was completed in 2010, Boldt said. The money helped create scholarship programs, endowments, several institutes and the William S. Boyd School of Law, Boldt said.
Besides helping fund the medical school and stadium, the next campaign will focus on five major areas at all the UNLV colleges — student scholarships, faculty support, technology, facilities and educational program enhancements, Boldt said.
The Board of Regents would have to approve a medical school or health-science initiative before that school could be planned, Boldt said. Talk of adding a medical school has been around for years, and Mark Doubrava, a Las Vegas eye doctor and state university regent, has championed a med school at UNLV.
Though some medical students complete residencies at University Medical Center, the University of Nevada School of Medicine is based in Reno.
That makes Las Vegas the largest city with no allopathic medical school, or one that grants a traditional M.D., Doubrava has said.
Advocates of a UNLV medical school argue it’s needed to alleviate chronic doctor shortages, raise the quality of medical care, draw more federal research dollars and enhance medical tourism.
The new campaign will take seven to 10 years, said Boldt, who worked on the first billion-dollar university campaign at Cornell University, which was a $1.5 billion effort from 1987-94.
UNLV’s next campaign will be different from the last because needs and goals at all university colleges will be identified, Boldt said.
“We have to look at the facts before we come up with the solutions. There will probably be more needs than resources. We have to prioritize the needs,” said John O’Reilly, chairman of the UNLV Foundation and a Las Vegas lawyer.
Ted Quirk, a member of UNLV’s development advisory board, said, “Universities run capital campaigns. That’s what they do. Obviously people think about it.”
He stressed, however, there is no immediate plan for the campaign.
“It is premature,” Quirk said. “Will there be one? Yes. Will it happen now? No.”
While some argue for a new medical school, a new UNLV committee made up of Regents, resort industry executives and lawyers met for the first time on Monday to begin studying the need, scope, cost and funding of a new football stadium/events center on campus.
UNLV’s campaign would help drive its goal of becoming a Carnegie-designated top-tier research university in the same class as the University of Utah; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Oregon; and Arizona State University, Boldt said.
“We’re trying to figure out how to take the university to the next level,” Boldt said.
Alan Snel can be contacted at email@example.com or 702-387-5273. Follow Snel on Twitter at @BicycleManSnel