Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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higher education:

UNLV extends deadline on its $500 million fundraising goal

The news that UNLV would not finish a seven-year, $500 million fundraising campaign by the end of this year came as no surprise to the chancellor of Nevada’s public higher education system.

“In fact, I told them they wouldn’t make it three or four months ago,” Jim Rogers said.

“Everybody’s money has dried up. These are tough times, and we don’t know how long the tough times are going to last.”

“They originally talked to me about extending it for half a year, and I said, ‘Absolutely not. You have to extend it for a year.’ ”

The UNLV Foundation decided to go with a year’s extension, and officials said they are confident the new end date leaves sufficient time for them to reach their goal.

Campaign Co-chairman Don Snyder said last week no donors considering major gifts had backed out. In a letter to UNLV President David Ashley last week, Snyder and Co-chairman Terry Wright wrote that philanthropists are just requesting “a little more time.”

Rogers, however, says he thinks “there’s a chance” UNLV will miss the target again.

“You’ve got to look to see how fast the economy starts to come out of it, and I think that the likelihood of them being successful in their campaign is directly tied to the success of the economy.”

“When there’s no money out there, it’s not a failure,” he added. “I don’t think it’s a knock on the campaign at all.”

Rogers, a television mogul and major donor to the higher education system, also doesn’t think he or system staff members will land any large gifts for a major health sciences initiative before he steps down as chancellor in June.

The “health sciences system” coordinates the health sciences programs of Nevada’s seven public colleges and universities and the Desert Research Institute.

Higher education staff have made little progress toward raising $38.7 million to match nearly $90 million the state gave for renovation and construction of buildings for health sciences programs.

•••

On one of his last days as a Nevada System of Higher Education regent, incoming Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak talked to a small group of College of Southern Nevada students, reflecting on his decade on the board and his ambitions for Clark County.

The 17 students who heard Sisolak’s insider views are members of CSN’s Capitol Club, which invited him to speak at a Sunday meeting this month. The organization encourages students to participate in politics, government and public service.

A recurring theme in Sisolak’s talk was his belief students do not speak out enough against actions such as fee increases and budget cuts that can reduce educational opportunities.

Asked whether regents paid attention to students’ perspectives, Sisolak replied, “Your voice is loud. It’s something that is very, very important.”

When the conversation turned to Sisolak’s upcoming County Commission term, which begins in January, he told students he wants to ensure developers complete promised projects, citing the complaints of Mountain’s Edge residents, who claim developers enticed them with talk of parks and other amenities that never materialized in the southwest valley community.

Sisolak also said he opposes a lottery or increasing the room tax as a way to raise money for Nevada. He backs a broad-based business tax.

•••

Cash-strapped UNLV held its employee holiday bash without spending any money.

Hearing that the university might not be able to host an end-of-the-year soiree, donors to UNLV athletics gave about $8,500 to the school to make one happen.

Of that amount, about $3,500 went for food such as cheese, crackers, vegetable trays and popcorn. Another $5,000 went for beverages, including soda, wine and beer.

About 750 faculty and staff members attended the Dec. 15 party at Cox Pavilion.

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