Following a national search and interviews conducted by the Search Committee with a highly qualified, diverse pool of candidates, three individuals have been identified as finalists for the role of Nevada Wolf Pack director of athletics. They will visit the campus on March 4-6 for a day-long series of interviews to allow athletics coaches and staff, faculty, staff, students and community representatives to meet them. The schedule includes an open forum in the Auditorium of Legacy Hall with each finalist.
The finalists and the open forum schedule for each are as follows:
• Timothy Leonard, senior associate athletic director for external affairs at Southern Methodist University where he also served as interim director of athletics last year, and former assistant vice president for athletics development at University of Central Florida. Mr. Leonard’s open forum will be Monday, March 4, 3-3:45 p.m.
• John Johnson, senior associate director of athletics at Washington State University and former director of intercollegiate athletics at Weber State University. Mr. Johnson’s open forum will be Tuesday, March 5, 3-3:45 p.m.
• Doug Knuth, senior associate athletic director for external affairs at University of Utah and formerly assistant athletic director/director of major gifts at Michigan State University. Mr. Knuth’s open forum will be Wednesday, March 6, 3-3:45 p.m.
The recommended candidate for the position will be forwarded to the Board of Regents for their consideration at a special meeting anticipated to be scheduled in the coming weeks.
Wolf Pack Athletics is a significant enterprise and a point of pride, with a storied history and a strong connection to our communities, both on and off campus. The opportunity to identify the University’s next director of athletics marks an important time for the program. For those who can attend next week, please know your participation in this process is appreciated.
On Feb. 7, I addressed our campus community as well as a statewide audience during a town hall meeting in the Joe Crowley Student Union. I stressed several themes during my talk, including ways that we can utilize new, less state-dependent revenue sources as we re-invest in our University. We will need to be more entrepreneurial and rely more on our wits and creativity as we build enrollment, increase research capacity and conduct our most comprehensive capital campaign in 20 years. As I noted during the meeting, I’m confident we can achieve all of these goals because of the great people we have at our University.
I wish to offer my congratulations to the 1,166 bachelor’s dgree and 382 advanced degree or certificates recipients from our 2012 Winter Commencement ceremony on Dec. 8 at Lawlor Events Center. I always consider Winter Commencement one of the true highlights of what we do at the University. Winter Commencement always feels like an intimate gathering among good friends. During Saturday’s ceremony I encouraged our graduates to find careers they love and to conduct their lives in such a way that reflects the rich historic values that our campus holds so dear. Based on what I saw and experienced on Saturday, this Class of 2012 is well on its way to achieving this and much more. Congratulations to all who were part of a wonderful day.
We are very pleased to now have three Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) projects, the most any institution may have at one time. This competitive National Institutes of Health program supports promising, growing research programs and acknowledges a multidisciplinary approach that brings together researchers from various disciplines, colleges and schools.
These COBRE projects recognize and build on the accomplishments and expertise of our faculty. The projects build biomedical research capacity which has important implications for our University and our economy. They result in new learning opportunities for students, strengthened infrastructure and development opportunities to support faculty and, of course, discovery that benefits society. Besides the new Integrative Neuroscience Center, discussed below, the University is proud to have two additional COBRE-supported centers, the Cell Biology Center and the Smooth Muscle Plasticity Center. Behind these programs is a combined $28 million in grant-funded support through COBRE.
In mid-November, it was announced that the City of Reno has been selected as one of only 100 recipients of IBM’s prestigious Smarter Cities Challenge grant for 2013. Partners in the project include the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, our University, EDAWN, the Desert Research Institute and the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization. The day commemorating the selection was important, as it was a signal to our region, state and nation that our community is beginning to realize its potential for a knowledge-based economy.
The $400,000 grant provides professional consulting and services and will allow Reno to create sophisticated analytics software which will provide citizens and developers complete access to information on properties within the city. Our Center for Regional Studies has said that this fiscal-impact model will allow for quicker turnaround on economic development projects and more informed decisions by city leaders. As with anything that helps put the effort of creating educated workforce at the forefront of our community, we are pleased to be a part of the Smart Cities team and will work with the City of Reno to help drive the statewide economy through workforce development, innovation and research.
This semester the University of Nevada, Reno serves our largest enrollment ever, and our student body again includes our highest ever number of National Merit Scholars and University Presidential Scholars. In recent weeks, we have seen several facets of our commitment to create a quality student experience that leads to student success.
Outside magazine recently named the University one of its top 25 Outside Universities. This acknowledges the beauty and recreation opportunities of the Reno-Tahoe region, and it also highlights the outdoor, experiential learning opportunities available to our students. More and more, experience-based learning opportunities are becoming ingrained in our campus culture. I am proud to report that our team of undergraduate biochemistry students won a gold medal in the regional genetic engineering competition, and also competed in the international competition at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. Another group of engineering students is part of an impressive exchange program in China. On our web site, you can learn more about the work of journalism students featured on Forbes.com and about the renewal of federal funding to the GEAR UP program which supports “first generation” students from low-income settings in their pursuit of a college degree. These students are identified in middle, and we are pleased that many GEAR UP students have successfully persisted through high school and are part of our campus community today.
On Sept. 28, I was formally inaugurated as the 16th president of the University of Nevada, Reno. I was, and still am, moved by the events of Friday, most particularly the good wishes and support I received from our faculty, staff, students and friends. It was quite simply overwhelming. The words that were spoken, by a number of special speakers, made my heart swell with gratitude and humility. Thank you to the entire campus community for making Sept. 28, 2012 a date that my family and I will always look back on with pride and fondess.
On Wednesday, Sept. 12, I had the distinct pleasure of previewing the “year in education” before members of the Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce. Along with Pedro Martinez, superintendent of the Washoe County School District, and Maria Sheehan, president of Truckee Meadows Community College, I presented several areas of emphasis for the 2012-2013 academic year. I stressed two overriding themes: how we are creating a remarkable student experience on our campus, and how, through the excellence of our faculty, staff and students, we are part of a remarkable University that is critical to the success of our community, our region and our state. As northern Nevada continues to look to find ways to diversify its economy, our graduates and human capital represent high-quality, well-trained individuals who will provide leadership and know-how in realizing our future. In addition, I also shared Superintendent Martinez’s and President Sheehan’s sentiment that cooperation and collaboration between the University, TMCC and WCSD has never been higher.
College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis will accompany Gov. Brian Sandoval, as well as a delegation of higher education, business and industry, natural resources, transportation and infrastructure leaders from the state on a trade mission to China later this week. The delegation, over 11 days, will identify business opportunities for Nevada and will also work to enhance Chinese and South Korean interest and investment in Nevada. I’m extremely pleased that the University is involved in this effort, and in particular, I would like to compliment Dean Maragakis for his energy and enthusiasm in telling the University’s story to so many different audiences. Earlier this year, Manos was part of a select group of engineering deans who were brought together at the White House to develop innovative ways for institutions of higher learning to increase the number of engineers in our country. Efforts such as this week’s trip to China illustrate two things: 1) Our University is central to economic diversification and development for Nevada; 2) Manos Maragakis is one of our finest representatives in helping our state’s and the world’s leaders better understand why we are a quality institution, with much knowledge, innovation and know-how to offer.
On Thursday, Sept. 6, my wife Karen and I joined more than 4,000 people from our University and from the community at Lawlor Events Center for the first of several presentations in the annual “Discover Science” lecture series. We were in the audience to watch Bill Nye, the nationally known “Science Guy,” bring his special blend of humor and science knowledge to Reno. The event was sponsored by the College of Science and the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno. We expected a great show, and we weren’t disappointed. Nye covered a variety of subjects, talking about his early obsession with sun dials, and why planetary science, environmental science and an understanding of climate change are so critical to the planet’s future. Throughout the evening, I was impressed with Nye’s engaging, winning, fun style, and with the audience. Washoe County School District students were everywhere, as were teachers, our own faculty, staff and students, as well as families and friends from our community. In February 2011, the College of Science delivered a “knock-out” blow to our University when popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson came to campus … and hundreds of his most ardent fans flocked to our campus to hear this wonderfully engaging scientist speak. Thursday’s event was a similar type of success. Once again, our campus had found a great speaker, with a great story to tell, and our campus community and community at large responded in large, enthusiastic numbers. One of the messages Bill Nye left us with Thursday was that it’s OK to care a great deal about subjects of science and immerse ourselves in disciplines of learning that are important to us. On Thursday night, our campus proudly let this passion for discovery show, with an event that won’t soon be forgotten. And there is more to come. The Discover Science lecture series has a full slate of events planned for the academic year: Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers of Rutgers University on Oct. 16; Douglas Smith, Yellowstone Wolf Project Director Dec. 6 and Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics from City College of New York City Feb. 7.