I think this year is particularly important that I say a few words about UNLV Homecoming. You see, I was born and raised in Las Vegas and I graduated from UNLV and serve on the Alumni Association Board. And most importantly, I also lead the live entertainment team at MGM Resorts, so homecoming means something special after the tragic events of a few weeks ago. It’s obviously been tragic and traumatic in so many ways, and will continue to be. But it’s also been inspiring to see the amazing acts of kindness, heroism, support and human spirit over the past few weeks, from our entire community, and our University played a big part. I have never been more proud to be born a raised in Las Vegas, and a UNLV graduate. Because I know now what it means to be #VegasStrong.
I start by addressing those who have come back to campus for the first time since graduating. I hope you got a chance to walk around our campus; if you are like a lot of us who strayed away from UNLV for a bit after graduation, the campus has probably changed significantly since you were last here. I remember my first time, thinking aliens had kidnapped our old little library and supersized it with gamma rays or something! The campus is growing, and becoming more modern, and becoming more of a student-focused campus, all great things for us as we stand at our 60th anniversary. Your job as an alumnus is to not let this be the last time you come back.
But the changes don’t stop at the physical changes. Those of us who have now been coming back and gotten used to the physical changes notice the amazing achievements from our students and faculty. Every corner of this campus is excelling in ways large and small. Our solar houses continue to rock the global scene, we compete and win globally in business case competitions, our entrepreneurship program is phenomenal, our design and engineering students regularly make breakthroughs, our robotics program is top notch, our student athletes continue to lead their competition in so many sports; the list goes on. Your job is an alumnus is to find out about these things, celebrate them, and advertise them in your networks.
Finally, there is so much hope for the future if we continue to come back. Top tier initiatives around campus, a new medical school to change healthcare forever in Las Vegas, the new Hospitality building (don’t worry Lee Business School, I hear we are trying to get one too), a new football practice facility. Most importantly, an energized leadership and staff that is focused on connecting your University to you. Community like never before. It’s that connection that will make both the University and Community better than they could be on their own. And you have a big job as an alumnus.
You need to keep coming back and be ENGAGED. Join the alumni association at our events – tailgates, seminars, networking, the arts – and find yourself making serendipitous connections and having timely conversations that lead to advancements in our goals. Connect with your college: help the Dean of your school strategize ways to improve the curriculum and make learning more real for students; become a guest lecturer at classes, or a part-time instructor; attend career fairs and other events where you can share your wisdom with students.
If we do our jobs as alumni, we will continue to welcome back our peers for the next 60 years, and they will continue to be awestruck by the physical changes on campus, the achievements of our students and faculty, and the engagement level of their predecessor alumni. This will be your legacy, one that truly represents the ideals of #VegasStrong.