As the central organizational and support system for graduate students, the Graduate College has, over the years, played an important role in recruiting top students, supporting research, and cultivating a national reputation for UNLV. Although the university offered some graduate courses in the 1950s, it was not until 1964 that Nevada Southern officially established graduate education with the Division of Graduate Studies. Under the leadership of Charles Adams, professor of English and coordinator of graduate studies, the newly established division provided graduate classes designed to meet the growing needs of both Nevada and the region.
In 1967, the first group of students graduated with master's degrees — nine from the School of Education and two from the School of Science and Mathematics. Several new graduate degree programs were particularly relevant to residents of Southern Nevada:
From Division to College
In 1972, the division became the Graduate College, with theater professor Lawrence Kuhl serving as its founding dean. At the time of his appointment, the graduate degree programs offered had increased to include the master of arts in economics, French, German, Spanish, history, political science, and psychology; the master of education in physical education; the specialist in education; and master of science in mathematics.
By 1977, more than 1,600 graduate degrees had been conferred. That year, five of the 262 candidates for graduate degrees received the first Doctor of Education degrees conferred by the university. By 1984, graduate enrollment had grown to more than 700, and 30 graduate degree programs were offered. This period was followed by a decade of dramatic growth for the entire university, reflected in enrollment and program growth in the Graduate College through 2007.
Division of Research and Graduate Studies
Research is the cornerstone of graduate education. From its earliest days, the Graduate College has supported graduate-level research and continues to encourage graduate students to pursue scholarly and creative activity. In 2002, an administrative reorganization integrated the Graduate College with campus research units to form the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. This strategic move advanced the university goal of strengthening research by enhancing the graduate studies.
Independent Graduate College
Interim President Donald Snyder and Executive Vice President and Provost John Valery White moved the Graduate College out from the Division of Research and Graduate Studies and established it as an Independent College in July of 2013. As the University actively commits to pursuing a Carnegie Research Very High designation, this organizational change was a move to strategically support the development of a Tier One Graduate College.
Preparing Tomorrow's Leaders
Graduate education plays an integral role in preparing leaders in society. Today, more than 6,000 graduate and professional students are enrolled at UNLV. Nearly 120 graduate-level programs — including 36 doctoral and professional programs — are offered, representing a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 graduate degrees have been conferred since 1967, including nearly 500 doctorates.
In the years ahead, the college will continue its mission: to support and advance high-quality graduate education and research; strategically develop graduate programs; support graduate faculty; encourage superior mentorship; and train and graduate students and scholars who contribute regionally, nationally, and internationally.
1972 — Lawrence Kuhl, Dean of the Graduate College
1977 — Joe McCullough, Interim Dean of the Graduate College
1980 — James F. Adams, Dean of the Graduate College
1985 — Ronald Smith, Dean of the Graduate College
1998 — Penny Amy, Interim Dean of the Graduate College
1999 — Paul Ferguson, Dean of the Graduate College
2003 — Gale Sinatra, Interim Dean of the Graduate College
2006 — Mark Rudin, Interim Vice President for Research and Graduate Dean
2006 — Ron Smith, Interim Vice President for Research and Graduate Dean
2010 — Ron Smith, Vice President for Resarch and Graduate Dean
2012 — Thomas Piechota, Interim Vice President for Research and Graduate Dean
2013 — Kathyrn Hausbeck Korgan, Interim Dean of the Graduate College