Engelstad Family Foundation Rescinds $14 Million Gift to UNLV

Engelstad Family Foundation Rescinds $14 Million Gift to UNLV

The Engelstad Family Foundation has rescinded a $14 million pledge it made in December to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas following media reports that UNLV president Len Jessup may be looking for a new job, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

According to the Review-Journal, Jessup had been challenged at a recent board of regents meeting over the rising cost of UNLV's new medical school. Then, last week, university regent Trevor Hayes questioned the university's handling of a dentist at its dental school who reused a single-use dental implant device on patients. A day after reports that he was being pushed out, Jessup announced that he was "looking at other opportunities." According to Engelstad Foundation trustee Kris Engelstad McGarry, the foundation's pledge agreement with the university included a provision that Jessup and Barbara Atkinson, founding dean of the medical school, remain in place.

"Part of our proposed commitment to them was predicated on the fact that leadership did not change," said Engelstad McGarry. "We rescinded that grant today. We are completely dedicated to the scholarships we have in place for the undergraduate and medical school students, but we don't trust the stewardship of the board of regents to handle our money, sadly."

Jessup, however, posted an email to the UNLV community calling the reports of his pending departure "misleading." "It's no secret that a few regents and I have not always agreed on the direction of UNLV under my leadership," he wrote. "Over the last several weeks, I had conveyed to Chancellor Thom Reilly that the governance structure makes long-term sustainability for any president challenging. I continue to be passionate about UNLV and all our initiatives but expressed to him my intent to begin looking at other opportunities."

A longtime supporter of the university, the foundation has donated millions of dollars for scholarships at the medical school. "Even with philanthropy, it's a transaction, and both parties have to fulfill their end, and they did not," said Engelstad McGarry. "To be put in this position is very uncomfortable. I take no pleasure in this at all."