The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Nevada governor Steve Sisolak have announced commitments totaling $155 million from private donors to fund construction of a building for the UNLV School of Medicine.
The funding — the bulk of which will come from the Engelstad Foundation and the Lincy Foundation, with additional gifts from unnamed donors — will enable UNLV to build a permanent facility for the medical school without relying on a $125 million bond measure that was approved in July. Now in its third year of operation, the medical school currently is located in temporary facilities on county land. The latest plan marks UNLV's fourth attempt to build a permanent campus for the medical school. The $125 million bond was to be paid back at $7 million a year over thirty years, either with private donations or with funds from the university's operating budget, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, but a final plan was never presented to the university's Board of Regents.
Before the bond was approved, the school had planned to fund the building through a combination of donations and a state grant, but in 2018 UNLV lost a $14 million donation from the Engelstad Foundation earmarked for the building due to the departure of UNLV president Len Jessup.
Board of Regents vice chair Mark Doubrava told the Review-Journal that the new donor-driven plan was a positive development, especially when coupled with the news of the medical school's provisional accreditation in October. According to Doubrava, the donors have formed a donor development limited liability corporation called the Nevada Health and Bioscience Asset Corp. to manage how the funds are spent. The new building will enable the medical school to triple annual enrollment from the current sixty, Council for a Better Nevada executive director Maureen Schaffer told the Nevada Current. The new agreement also will provide that construction workers on the project are paid the prevailing wage.
"At our core, all we've wanted all along is to ensure that southern Nevada gets the medical school it deserves," said Engelstad Foundation trustee Kris Engelstad McGarry. "With today's announcement, we are back on the right track in bringing that vision to life."
"This agreement is a monumental step forward in ensuring that UNLV will have a state-of-the-art medical school that will save taxpayer money, raise the quality of health care, and help us combat Nevada's critical doctor shortage in the face of rapid population growth," said Sisolak. "This announcement marks a turning point for Nevada in creating a culture of philanthropy that will encourage other individuals and families to contribute to projects and causes that will have positive outcomes for our state."
(Image credit: UNLV School of Medicine)