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October 20, 2014

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HIGHER EDUCATION:

Kirk Kerkorian’s gift feeds future

$14 million will fund UNLV institute for seeking grants

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Tiffany Brown

The foundation of Kirk Kerkorian, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist who is the largest shareholder of MGM Mirage, made the $14 million gift to UNLV in honor of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, his friend of 40 years.

An initiative to raise money to advance education, health care and social services in Nevada will be launched at UNLV today with a $14 million grant from Kirk Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation.

The gift will fund the creation of The Lincy Institute, with a research and development staff of 10, which will specialize in identifying and landing local, state and national grants to improve the quality of life in Nevada, the university announced in a statement. The institute also plans an academic component by funding 12 faculty fellowships to contribute to the institute’s work.

The institute will work on behalf of dozens of public agencies and nonprofit organizations in Nevada involved with such issues as health care, education, child and family advocacy, homelessness, suicide prevention and physical disabilities.

The institute will report to UNLV’s vice president of research and graduate studies, and work closely with the office of the executive vice president and provost.

Kerkorian, the billionaire businessman, philanthropist and largest shareholder of MGM Mirage, is making the gift in honor of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with whom he has had a 40-year friendship.

Nevada’s need for more money to help nonprofit organizations is well-documented. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in October that Nevada ranked last in the dollar amount of federal grants per capita.

The creation of The Lincy Institute, which is expected to win approval from the university system’s Board of Regents next month, comes at a critical time for Nevada: The state is starved for money yet has been identified by the Brookings Institution as one of five Western states poised to become a new American heartland.

The Brookings report concluded that Nevada needs significant investments and cooperation at the local, state and federal levels to develop the programs, services and infrastructure needed to support growth.

The Lincy Institute’s organizers envision helping their partners to identify and address community needs, then help secure the necessary funding to meet those goals.

“This is a terrific day for UNLV and our community,” said Mark Fine, chairman of the UNLV Foundation board of trustees. “It shows what can be done when a wonderful donor like the Lincy Foundation gets an idea of how to bring that which a great university does best — quality research — together with some of the most pressing needs of our community.”

The Lincy Institute is expected to take up residence on the second floor of Greenspun Hall, a location chosen for its proximity to the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.

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