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October 30, 2014

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Las Vegas Sands donating $7 million to bolster UNLV hospitality program

UNLV officials this morning announced a $7 million donation from the Las Vegas Sands Corp. to help build a new academic building for the hotel college.

The donation comes as UNLV looks to bolster its hospitality and gaming education as Las Vegas’ primary industry faces increased competition globally and online.

Las Vegas Sands, which operates the Venetian, Palazzo and several resort properties in Asia, recently launched a new corporate giving program called Sands Cares. As part of the program, Las Vegas Sands is committing $2.5 million to support the construction of Hospitality Hall, a new academic building for the Harrah College of Hotel Administration.

The new hall would have 95,000 square feet of classroom, laboratory and meeting space. It would be located on the North Field behind Frank and Estella Beam Hall, which the hotel college currently shares with the Lee Business School.

Las Vegas Sands also is committing $4.5 million to create a new Center for International Hospitality and Gaming Education. The center will offer customized in-person and online courses to hospitality industry managers and executives, giving them the skills and knowledge to advance their careers, officials said.

UNLV President Don Snyder, who served as hotel college dean between 2010 and 2013, thanked Las Vegas Sands for its donation.

“Industry partnerships are essential to keep the Harrah hotel college at the forefront of hospitality and gaming education,” Snyder said in a statement. “The generous support of Las Vegas Sands will strengthen Las Vegas’ reputation as the global intellectual capital of gaming by creating new education opportunities for industry professionals and by continuing momentum on a new academic building that will connect the university and the industry like never before.”

Las Vegas Sands’ donation comes on the heels of another gift to construct Hospitality Hall. Konami Corp., parent company of Las Vegas-based Konami Gaming Inc., donated $2.5 million last month for the new building.

UNLV officials are hoping to pay for the $50 million Hospitality Hall with $30 million in public funding and $20 million in private donations. Existing kitchen and laboratory spaces in Beam Hall also will be renovated as part of the project.

State lawmakers approved planning funds for Hospitality Hall in 2013 and the State Board of Examiners approved an architect for the project in March. UNLV expects to request public funding for Hospitality Hall during the 2015 legislative session, which if approved would allow UNLV to open the building in late 2017.

Previous funding efforts for Hospitality Hall fell through during the recession.

In 2007, Harrah’s Foundation pledged a $25 million toward the building but said it would only be made good if UNLV matched the donation by the end of 2009. UNLV officials and state lawmakers failed to raise matching funds during the economic downturn.

The university recently launched a new capital fundraising campaign to build out its campus and boost its academic programs.

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