Last week, I discussed the progress made on the medical school's faculty practice plan (UNLV Medicine) and the critical items approved by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents. These included the UNLV Medicine bylaws, its business plan and a $19 million line of credit to support the clinical practice's start-up costs. We reached an important milestone for the school and for the citizens of Southern Nevada.
Another highlight of the meeting, that I found to be most personally moving and heartfelt, occurred during public comment when six important community leaders stepped forward to express their support for the medical school. I listened to the audio recording of the meeting this weekend and wanted to share a short summary of each leader's two-minute presentation with you. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for each of these incredible partners and prospective incoming medical students.
City of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman
Mayor Goodman expressed her excitement for having arrived at this momentous point of establishing a medical school in Las Vegas. "The most important thing for any vibrant and world-class community," she said, is "first, the safety and security of the people, and second is health care. The community has been waiting and waiting for this to
happen. The economic benefit is enormous." Mayor Goodman also added having the finest trained physicians with the highest quality faculty and research will propel Las Vegas and Nevada to the next and higher level of health care.
Clark County Commissioner Chairman Steve Sisolak
Chairman Sisolak began by saying he and the mayor don't always agree on everything, but they certainly agree on the medical school. Sisolak, a former Regent, shared with his colleagues they have the opportunity to accomplish what he was not able to do when he was in their position. "I wish they [Regents] could have done more when I was there, but you are doing it now," he said. "This is the most
important thing for the county. The County Commission and UMC are 100 percent behind it. We [Clark County Commission] put up our money by contributing the land for the project and will continue to nurture the school's development."
Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, and Chair UMC Board of Trustees, as well as Chair of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Commissioner Weekly began by stressing he was blessed to stand before the Regents as a native Nevadan and wanted to stress the importance of this project for moving forward toward a "One Nevada." "People come to Las Vegas from around the
world and we need to be on the cutting edge. Now we need to move forward and become more than a tourist destination, but also a final destination," added Weekly.
UMC Chief Executive Officer Mason VanHouweling
Mr. VanHouweling shared on behalf of his administration and the 4,000 employees of UMC, they have appreciated their relationship with the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine and Dean Tom Schwenk, and are committed to ensuring a smooth transition to the UNLV School of Medicine. "We are excited about our new partnership and are looking forward to new collaborations," he said. He explained how UMC and the UNLV School of Medicine leadership are meeting monthly and have six different committees working on future collaborations. The committees include the master affiliation agreement, program development, clinical trials, marketing, electronic medical records and finance.
UMC also has added me to their long-term planning committee and they have recently renovated office space at 2040 W. Charleston for UNLV School of Medicine faculty and staff. We now have more that 40 people working in this space. UMC is committed to making sure we build a successful program together for generations to come.
Vladislav Zhitny, former UNLV Student Body Senate President
Mr. Zhitny expressed to the Regents how he had been proudly accepted his invitation into the UNLV School of Medicine's charter class on a full tuition scholarship. He wanted to share his story as it underscores the types of students UNLV School of Medicine is accepting into its charter class. Zhitny immigrated to Las Vegas in 2006 with his mother, grandmother and cat. He attended middle school and graduated from CSN High School as valedictorian. He is a biology major at UNLV and is in the Honors College and part of an entrepreneurship program. He has completed internships at the Stanford School of Medicine and Harvard Dana Farber Cancer Institute where he pursued research on treatments for leukemia. He will graduate Summa Cum Laude this spring. He completed his honors thesis in Dr. Andrew Andres' laboratory in the School of Life
Sciences. Although Zhitny interviewed at other medical schools, he chose UNLV School of Medicine because of the tremendous opportunity for himself, his family and community. He thanked the Regents for their commitment to build the medical school and for the impact it will have on students, the medical district and to improve health care in Nevada.
Diana Peña-Garcia, UNLV Outstanding Graduate, spring 2016
Ms. Peña-Garcia began her presentation by telling the Regents she had been accepted into the UNLV School of Medicine's charter class. She is a 2016 UNLV graduate. While at UNLV, she completed research with Dr. Kelly Tseng in the School of Life Sciences. For her efforts, Diana received funding from the National Science Foundation and was awarded the first UNLV Outstanding Student Research Scholarship. She thanked the Regents, NSHE Chancellor John White, President Len Jessup and me for our support. She also expressed to the Regents how grateful she was to receive a full tuition scholarship and the opportunity to work in our community as a student. Ms. Peña-Garcia plans to stay in Las Vegas to care for her future patients of our community as a physician.