Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: HIGHER EDUCATION

University system Regent Stavros Anthony's proposal to train faculty and staff as reserve police officers is being reported far and wide by the Associated Press, higher education publications and on the Internet.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reprinted (and then corrected) a report from KLAS Channel 8's Web site that gave the impression the plan was a done deal rather than a proposal. (Anthony asked campus police to work out the details of the plan and bring it back to the Board of Regents in August.)

Response to the proposal, which calls for faculty and staff to be armed after 21 weeks of police training and an intense screening process, has been vitriolic. Supporters don't understand why anyone would oppose it, and the majority who oppose it don't understand how anyone could give it credence.

The most intense discussion is at insidehighered.com, an online publication aimed at higher education professionals. One person wrote that the proposal was "like getting more campus police for free," and a man who said he was a professor at UNR volunteered to be the first to sign up.

Several worried about putting guns in the hands of professors.

"Offhand, I can think of at least five of my fellow faculty members who scare the hell out of me already - we don't need to arm them as well," a blogger identified as "Clio" wrote.

A remark on a random blog that posted the insidehighered.com story said the idea was stupid because professors are "notoriously left - wing hippie types."

"I'm pretty sure if you would give them a gun, they would carry it like a girl carries a rat," the person wrote.

A UNLV development officer took umbrage in June when the Sun noted that the UNLV Foundation had not announced any major campaign contributions since it went public with its $500 million goal.

The statement was based on a definition of "major" as a multimillion-dollar gift, the likes of Bill Boyd's $25 million to the law school that bears his name. Three such gifts were announced before the campaign was launched in September 2005, none after.

During the past two years, UNLV has announced some million-dollar gifts, such as $1.2 million from Boyd Gaming executive Robert Boughner to start a career-services center and $1 million from MGM Mirage to help recruit National Merit Scholars, both of which were reported in the Sun.

But many donors have requested that either their names or the amount of their gifts be kept confidential, said Nancy Strouse, executive director of the foundation. Some announcements may appear only in college newsletters that are not widely distributed.

"Our response in how we celebrate gifts is clearly tied to what the donor wants," Strouse said.

Since the campaign's launch, there have been eight pledges of $500,000 to $700,000, and 10 pledges for more than $1 million - including one for $7.5 million and another for $6 million, Strouse said.

There have also been 10 estate bequests of more than $500,000.

Every gift is important, regardless of size, Strouse said. The campaign, which celebrated its 50,000th gift in April, has to raise $160 million more during the next 18 months to reach its goal.

UNLV life science professors have recently racked up five grants totaling more than $2.6 million.

The competitive awards come predominantly from the National Science Foundation, and are a part of UNLV's overall efforts to advance as a research university.

The research projects focus on the effect of the desert environment on specific organisms and evaluating the various life processes of certain insects to better understand how humans function. Professors Michelle Elekonich and Stephen Roberts, for instance, are studying how the work habits of honey bees affect their life span.

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