UNLV begins yearlong celebration of turning 60

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In 60 years, UNLV has grown from 500 students to more than 30,000.

In 60 years, UNLV has grown from 500 students to more than 30,000.

The university, first known as Nevada Southern, held a diamond anniversary party Tuesday to kick off a year of activities to highlight UNLV’s transformation.

“It’s hard to believe that 60 years ago, this part of town was in the middle of nowhere — there was nothing here,” UNLV President Len Jessup said. “The community banded together to raise $35,000 to get us the acreage for the campus, and three buildings. A lot has happened in the 60 years. It’s fun to be a part of the journey now.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman joined Jessup in cutting a birthday cake to mark the occasion.

Goodman, an alumna of UNLV’s graduate program, recalled Nevada Southern playing its football games at Las Vegas High School in 1964.

“You, and we, have come a long, long way,” she said to the crowd that gathered outside the student union.

Recent university highlights include the opening of the first Southern Nevada allopathic medical school and a looming partnership with the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL.

Through all the progress, Regent Sam Lieberman said the mission of educating and graduating students has remained the same.

UNLV spokesman Tony Allen said the university has created new events, including a community 5K run-walk, to coincide with the 60th anniversary. The theme will also infuse longstanding events, including Jessup’s State of the University address on Thursday, and the UNLV Foundation’s annual dinner in October.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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