Tension between UNLV board, dean may cause setbacks in construction of new medical school

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The University of Nevada, Las Vegas' new medical school may face some setbacks as tensions continue to rise between university regents and the dean of the medical school, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

University regents have criticized the approach UNLV School of Medicine Dean Barbara Atkinson, MD, has used to raise funds for the new medical school, particularly her plan to find a single individual or entity to donate $100 million or more in funds, according to the report.

While officials said the school's July 17 opening is not in jeopardy, the lack of funds may prevent the school from expanding class sizes in the near future and may halt construction on the school's medical building, which is expected to take four years to complete, according to the report.

Dr. Atkinson told the Review-Journal that in the two years since the university received start-up funds from the state legislature, the institution has raised approximately $20 million. However, university officials dispute the amount, claiming the actual amount may be less than $20 million.

Fundraising efforts, so far, reportedly include $13.5 million from a 2015 scholarship drive that will fund the full tuition of the school's first 60 medical students, and $3 million from the United Health Foundation. A spokesperson for the medical school said the school has raised "additional gift commitments since the scholarship drive and $1.5 million in support for programs, faculty and research, according to the report.

UNLV President Len Jessup, PhD, issued a statement to the Review-Journal stating the medical school "had raised more than $20 million" in funding.

Allison Stephens, vice chair of the board of regents for UNLV, said she has noticed a discrepancy in the terminology officials use to discuss the types of funds, which may lead to misunderstandings between the two entities and leave the board unable to carry out its fiduciary duties.

"[The numbers] just [have] to be a little bit clearer," said Ms. Stephens said. "We need to understand what each number is. We should not have misunderstandings about that."

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