As a leader in fundraising efforts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Don Snyder is not only helping to shape the future of the university, he is also playing a role in shaping the future of Southern Nevada.
Snyder, retired Boyd Gaming president and a member of the UNLV Foundation’s board of trustees, said economic diversity is necessary in order for the Las Vegas region to grow more broadly. “Economic diversity is vital to a long-term healthy economy, and the university is the link between what you want to be and what you can be,” he said. “While it might seem to be a bit of a cliché, you can’t have a great city without a great university.”
The UNLV Foundation is the fundraising arm of the university. The foundation’s board of trustees, 60 prominent local business leaders like Snyder who volunteer their time, provides important links between campus and community to help raise and manage the millions of private dollars that flow in each year through annual giving programs, scholarships, major gifts and estate gifts.
Snyder has been involved with the UNLV Foundation since moving to Las Vegas from California as a banker in 1987. When he came on board, he said the state provided about 50 percent of the university’s budget. The state now contributes 32 percent of the funding, said John Gallagher, vice president for development and executive director of the UNLV Foundation. “The growth in student enrollment and the rise in sophistication of our programs has made it necessary for us to step up our fundraising efforts, not only to meet basic needs, but to enhance the quality of the university as a whole,” Gallagher said.
As a result, the foundation launched its first comprehensive campaign, Invent the Future, in January 2002 with the goal of raising $500 million by the end of 2008. To date, the university has raised more than $334 million. T
he objectives of the campaign are to raise UNLV’s public profile and academic reputation, broaden alumni support, strengthen the university’s ability to impact economic development, and increase the fundraising resources, which will strengthen UNLV and the community.
Nancy Strouse, the UNLV Foundation’s senior associate vice president for development, said the foundation gets a tremendous amount of support from local businesses. “Employers are looking for well-educated, high-quality employees, and they look to the university to provide them,” she said.
Their support isn’t just financial, Strouse said. Business leaders serve on advisory boards, where they can help shape the direction of a particular college or department by providing guidance on programs and reviewing strategic plans.
Ted Quirk, vice chair of the UNLV Foundation and an intellectual property and patent attorney, said the Las Vegas Valley will grow with or without UNLV – the service sector will always need workers. But to attract other industries and businesses to Southern Nevada, a strong university is a must. “All you have to do is look at other cities – Austin and San Jose, for example – which have grown because of their multi-layered university system,” he said.
Another UNLV Foundation board member, Terry Wright, owner of Nevada Title, pointed out that the university not only has more to offer than education, but it also improves the quality of life for all Southern Nevadans.
“It provides culture and entertainment such as concerts and lectures. We have museums and athletic events,” he said. “It makes the community a better place to live, and when you have a community that’s a great place to live, you’re able to attract people from other areas who will make it even better.”
More information on the Invent the Future campaign can be found on the foundation’s Web site, http://foundation.unlv.edu.
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