Celebrating Fifty Years

University College
University College
University College located in the Flora Dungan Humanities building

In its mere three years, University College has evolved beyond the expectations of even the most optimistic forecasters. In 2002, in response to a recommendation from the consulting firm of Noel-Levitz, a committee was formed to investigate the possibility of establishing University College to fulfill two goals:

  • Expand educational opportunities and enhance student retention by providing quality advising and support services for students without declared majors.
  • Enable students whose educational goals are best met by individualized programs of study to complete a bachelor of university studies.

Establishing the College

Over the course of 2003, the faculty, administration, and staff were put in place. A steering committee, composed of professors John Readence, Bill Robinson, and Tim Gauthier, focused on creating the program and the academic course of study. In December, the Board of Regents approved the creation of the college.

In January 2004, with John Readence as founding dean, University College officially began with 33 undeclared majors and 1,600 undeclared students. Incorporating the Student Development Center within the college ensured that students would receive advising from staff who were knowledgeable about the intricacies of UNLV's academic programs and well equipped to aid them in exploring their various academic options.

Capstone Projects

The university studies program culminates in a two-course capstone sequence, which requires the completion of a project reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the students' studies. Allowing students to stretch their imaginations and conceptualize different outcomes for their degrees, this capstone project has produced much thoughtful and original work. Projects have ranged from new business ideas, such as graphic designs for customizing snowboarding equipment or the creation of a portable unit for storing and transporting scrap-booking materials, to more academic pursuits, such as examining the rights of the homeless in Las Vegas or investigating better legal representation for children in Clark County.

Positive Response

Over the last two years, the college has grown to include Assistant Dean Tim Gauthier and three other faculty members; five academic advisors (and their director, Anne Hein); and five academic athletic advisors (and their director, Jeffery Higgins). Nearly 900 students are now declared as university studies majors, illuminating both the need for and the interest in such a degree.

Students have responded positively to the programs the college and its faculty have created, embracing the flexibility of studying more than one area. Many students find this diverse background useful when applying to graduate and professional schools or seeking meaningful employment.

Varied Internships

In spring 2006, University College began offering students the option of completing internships to fulfill the capstone course. To date, nearly 30 students have obtained internships with organizations as diverse as the Lilly Foundation, Las Vegas Food & Beverage Magazine, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Nevada Immigrant Resource Project. These internships, apart from giving students valuable practical experience, serve to strengthen the link between UNLV and the surrounding community and provide higher visibility to upcoming graduates from the program.

Looking Ahead

In the years ahead, University College will evolve into a home for a diverse student population. By offering first-year and transfer students quality advising and well-chosen curricula, as well as a place to familiarize themselves with the university experience, the college will help increase student retention and graduation. The interdisciplinary focus will also help students who seek diversified programs of study. Finally, the college is well placed to serve the university in its ongoing mission to provide students with a fundamental understanding of what it means to live in an increasingly multicultural and globalized world.

In July 2007, John Readence stepped down as dean of the college. Ann McDonough assumed the responsibilities of interim dean and will see University College through the next phase of its evolution.


2004 - John Readence
2007 - Ann McDonough, interim