Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2024


UNLV has been a key partner in community’s fight against virus

It’s unnaturally quiet these days on the UNLV campus, which normally would be swirling with students preparing for final exams coming.

But don’t think UNLV has gone dormant. Despite the calm on campus, the university has been busy helping the community that supports it.

Among the contributions being made by the institution at large and by faculty and students on an individual level:

• The UNLV School of Medicine and its clinical arm, UNLV Medicine, have administered more than 5,000 curbside COVID-19 tests for Southern Nevadans since late March. It’s also expanded its testing capacity in recent days.

• At the School of Dental Medicine, clinical faculty have provided emergency dental services to more than 50 people and screened a total of 250. This is in reaction to the closure of dental practices due to the pandemic.

• Interns in the public health program are assisting the Southern Nevada Health District with a variety of duties, such as contact tracing and compiling data.

• Nursing faculty and administrators have volunteered in a number of ways. To name just a few, professor Susan VanBeuge is helping expand the workforce of health care professionals as part of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Battle Born Medical Corps; faculty and administrators are doing temperature screenings at University Medical Center; and Rhigel “Jay” Tran, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, designed and produced more than 700 face shields for caregivers on the front lines.

• The School of Medicine, in partnership with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, is establishing a confidential toll-free phone line to provide mental health support, resources and referrals to health care professionals.

• UNLV’s Lee Business School has launched the Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will award investments totaling $1 million for innovations benefiting the hospitality, entertainment and travel industries in facing challenges brought on by COVID-19. The worldwide competition was funded by the Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation and is open to submissions through July 5. Information is available at

• The School of Medicine is partnering with UMC and Vitalant-Southern Nevada blood centers to collect plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma. The partners are also delivering serum from this “convalescent plasma,” which can be used to treat critically ill patients. People who are at least 28 days through their recovery can donate.

• The College of Education and its Zeiter Literacy Development Center are hosting multilingual digital story times delivered by educators, parents and children from around the world. More than 50 story readings have been added. To access them, search for Zeiter Literacy Center on YouTube.

• UNLV Law, working with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and Nevada Legal Services, is offering free legal education to the community.Students and attorneys are providing online courses in such fields as bankruptcy, immigration and small claims. In addition, the UNLV Immigration Clinic continues to offer its services remotely.

• The Harrah College of Hospitality and its alumni chapter are promoting Las Vegas Rebel Restaurants — those owned or managed by UNLV students and alums — which are providing takeout, curbside pickup and delivery. To see the list of those establishments, visit unlv/hospitality and search for Rebel Restaurants.

Those are just some of the ways in which UNLV is helping the community contend with the pandemic.

It’s a reminder of the university’s extraordinary benefit to Southern Nevada, where it not only provides a pathway to a better education for students but plays a leading role in advancing the region’s economy, health and quality of life. Both now and as we recover, UNLV will be a key asset.

Especially at times like these, the investments our community have made in UNLV — whether through tuition, tax dollars or donations — have proven to be wise. And by continuing to support the university, those benefits will only grow.