LAS VEGAS -- While many educators, economists and community leaders say that UNLV should play a key role in any effort to diversify Southern Nevada's economy, the university has a long way to go before it can compete on equal footing with the nation's most respected institutions of higher education.
One place where that is evident is in the relative lack of endowments UNLV has received through donations for such purposes as awarding scholarships, luring world-class professors or upgrading campus facilities. With an endowment of $146.8 million as of 2010, UNLV was a mere 280th among the nation's colleges and universities, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Commonfund Institute of Wilton, Conn.
When U.S. News & World Report issued its latest rankings of higher education institutions in September, UNLV was nowhere to be found among the top 202 schools. University of Nevada, Reno, at least, made the list ranked 181st.
The magazine delivered kudos to UNLV's Boyd School of Law, ranking it 71st overall among law schools, fourth in legal writing and ninth in dispute resolution. But UNLV and UNR were both ranked 231st among high school counselors.
The Center for Measuring University Performance in Tempe, Ariz., also ranked UNLV 125th overall and 87th among public institutions in doctorates awarded in 2009 but only 178th overall and 131st among public universities in research spending in 2008.
Nevada's universities have among the nation's lowest tuition and fees for in-state residents but among the country's highest in-state room and board costs, according to the National Center for Education Studies, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education.The center reported that Nevada salaries for university professors with doctorates are among the nation's highest. But Nevada is stingy when it comes to hiring professors. U.S. News & World Report found that UNLV had a student/faculty ratio of 22 to one and that it was 27 to one at UNR. In contrast, the magazine's top-ranked public school, the University of California, Berkeley, had a student/faculty ratio of 17 to one.
The center calculated separately that as of the fall of 2009, Nevada's universities had a combined student/faculty ratio of 21 to one, highest in the nation, with the U.S. average being 15.3 to one. Nevada's community colleges had a student/faculty ratio of 24 to one, seventh highest nationally at a time when the U.S. average was 21.7 to one.