A Message from the Executive Vice President and Provost
UNLV Executive Vice President and Provost, John Valery White, sent a message to campus addressing the recent announcement of UNLV President Smatresk's pending departure from campus.
This week’s surprising news that Dr. Smatresk was the sole finalist to lead another university has created a buzz in certain circles. But throughout the week, despite the rare, chilly fall rain that greeted us yesterday, students and faculty were going about their business on campus. Finals are just around the corner and there is important work to be done. The situation of UNLV today is much like that of our students: we have multiple, significant projects ongoing, all of which require the support and guidance of our community partners, and on which there will be many tests in the weeks and months to come. But notwithstanding the rain, we are heading to our classes, or to the library to meet our study group. We are continuing to do the work we must do to achieve our goals. As of today, all of our projects and initiatives are proceeding unabated. These initiatives have enjoyed widespread campus and community support and will continue to move forward because of that support.
The message yesterday from the Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Regents nicely outlined the process for identifying campus leadership in the immediate and longer terms. The Board’s newly adopted succession planning policy ensures that the campus will enjoy stable leadership until the Board makes an acting or interim appointment. While the Chancellor and Chair implement this process, we should have no trouble continuing to pursue the initiatives necessary to make UNLV great.
All of the prominent projects launched by President Smatresk in recent months will continue – from our pursuit of Carnegie Research Very High status (Tier One), to the process for the eventual establishment of a UNLV Medical School, or the construction of an on-campus stadium. These projects enjoy widespread support on the campus and throughout the Las Vegas community. Each of these projects is difficult and their success will turn on continued support from our friends. However, our dedication to pursuing them endures because each promises to improve our campus, enhance the educational experience we offer our students, and contribute to the economic diversity and development of Southern Nevada and the State.
Less prominent but no less important are the continuing efforts on our campus to improve student success, to rebuild after the economic crisis, and to operate more effectively. Crucial efforts to improve student retention, progression and completion, as well as efforts to streamline and enhance the recruitment and integration of students will continue. So will our work to develop an improved orientation process. There is nothing more important than ensuring that students who chose UNLV complete their studies – rigorous, challenging studies that transform them into the sophisticated citizens our globalized Las Vegas economy increasingly needs.
Our efforts to support faculty development and to fill key leadership positions will also continue unabated. I expect to complete the hiring of new deans for colleges with interim leadership this spring. I also expect that we will finalize the recruitment for a Vice President of Research and Economic Development. UNLV stands prepared to push forward with the many initiatives in place to better connect UNLV with our community. These include our important work to advance economic development, particularly in the areas highlighted by the Governor. We will continue our aggressive effort to rebuild our faculty after the many years of deep budget cuts which reduced our faculty size.
At least two master planning projects are coming to a conclusion. We expect to implement the recommendations of the IT Master Plan and the recommendations associated with the NSHE’s Integrate 2 project. These and other steps to improve our campus functioning, enhance customer service, and operate more efficiently will proceed.
We have much going for us. We are equipped to continue to pursue our goals unimpeded during this transition period. The goals Neal articulated are, after all, our goals. The faculty and the campus leadership team are dedicated to achieving them. With your support, and that of our outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni, and foundation members, we will work in collaboration with our community partners and move forward with our goal of achieving the highest level of excellence for our great university.
John Valery White
UNLV Executive Vice President and Provost