Thursday, April 10, 1997 | 11:59 a.m.
A $3.7 million gift from real estate magnate Robert Bigelow and his wife, Diane, will fund a new academic position in UNLV's College of Sciences.
The Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies has been advertised in hopes of attracting a distinguished science scholar. It is to be filled by visiting academic professionals for the first few years, until they settle on a permanent candidate.
Warren Burggren, dean of the UNLV college, said this gift presents UNLV students with a unique opportunity to take part in a program offered only at a select number of high-profile universities, including Duke and Northeastern.
"We are very interested in seeing the disciplines of physics, biology and chemistry applied to the study of consciousness," Robert Bigelow explained. "Our goal is simply to help scientists unravel some of the mysteries of consciousness and ultimately benefit mankind."
Bigelow's search for the answers to science's greatest questions has led him to an isolated cattle ranch in the heart of eastern Utah's Uintah Basin.
The Las Vegas apartment mogul hopes his team of scientists can unearth the roots of UFO folklore prevalent in this region since the 1950s. Last July, the Sherman family broke years of silence and went public with bizarre tales of strange lights and UFOs on their 480-acre ranch. Bigelow negotiated to buy the ranch for about $200,000.
He has erected an observation building on the property and moved in a pair of scientists and a veterinarian. He has someone on the property 24 hours a day, recording anything out of the ordinary. Officially, the research is being conducted by the National Institute for Discovery Science, which Bigelow formed last October.
The Bigelow name is familiar to the UNLV campus, notably on walls of the Robert Bigelow Physics Building and the Rod Lee Bigelow Health Sciences Building.
Robert and Diane Bigelow will be honored as new members of the UNLV Palladium Society by the UNLV Foundation.