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Business background shaped vision of UNLV presidential candidate Jessup

Dr. Len Jessup

Geri Kodey / UNLV Photo Services

Dr. Len Jessup, candidate for president of UNLV, on November 12, 2014 at a public forum on campus.

UNLV presidential candidate Len Jessup relied on his business school background as he answered questions today from a packed auditorium of campus faculty and students.

The campus forum was an opportunity for members at UNLV to meet and learn about the second of three candidates for UNLV president. The other candidates are UNLV Executive Vice President and Provost John Valery White and Georgia Regents University President Dr. Ricardo Azziz.

Upcoming public forum with candidates

Len Jessup

Thursday, Nov. 12

10 a.m.

UNLV, Stan Fulton Bldg.

John Valery White

Friday, Nov. 13

10 a.m.

UNLV, Stan Fulton Bldg.

Dr. Ricardo Azziz

Forum already took place

Click to enlarge photo

Dr. Ricardo Azziz, candidate for president of UNLV

Click to enlarge photo

UNLV Executive Vice President and Provost John Valery White speaks to students and faculty at the State of the University address, Thursday Sept. 12, 2013.

Jessup is the University of Arizona Eller College of Management dean, and has also held positions in the business schools at both Washington State University and Indiana University. He frequently used his experiences at Arizona and Indiana as he addressed plans for how he would push UNLV forward in its Tier One initiative.

The initiative is UNLV’s plan to be designated a Carnegie Very High Research University, a ranking reserved for the premier schools in the country. Faculty asked questions that ranged from when UNLV would reach Tier One status to the role of liberal arts in the school to funding models.

The table is already set for the next president,” Jessup said. “I talked to (UNLV acting President) Don Snyder and (Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor) Dan Klaich about the plans around Tier One. I’m confident we are headed in the right direction.”

Jessup said he felt that to get there, UNLV still needed a strong athletic program to go with academics. He added that building a new stadium on campus needed to be a priority. He also said he would equally emphasize funding for colleges like engineering and the business school that bring in research money along with liberal arts programs.

Both are critical to developing well-rounded students, he said.

When a student asked Jessup how he would keep tuition costs down at the school as it becomes a Tier One program, Jessup said it came down to seeking outside funding. It was a message he repeated during the forum. With decreasing investment from the state, he said the school needed to find revenue from donors, businesses, research programs and grants.

He said his success at fundraising and establishing a self-sustaining business school at Arizona made him equipped to do it again at UNLV.

“We need to be self-sufficient and that means finding new revenue sources and keeping costs down,” Jessup said.

His answers impressed Peter Bayer, a Boyd School of Law professor. He appreciated Jessup’s emphasis on liberal arts.

“I thought his answers were thoughtful and on the point,” Bayer said.

Ultimately, Bayer said he’s looking for a president who is a leader, an effective fundraiser and someone who understands UNLV’s mission. Still, only so much could be gained through a forum. He said it’ll be up to the UNLV president search committee to vet the candidate.

Jessup will hold his public forum at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Stan Fulton Building. White will be holding his public forum at 10 a.m. Friday at the Stan Fulton Building. Azziz addressed the public in a forum on Tuesday.

The UNLV President Search Committee may select the next president at its Nov. 17 or Nov. 18 meeting.

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