Indy Q+A: UNLV President Keith Whitfield on COVID, budget cuts and the future

unlv president whitfield

When UNLV President Keith Whitfield took the university’s top job last summer, he came to Nevada at a pivotal moment. 

The university’s first Black president, he arrived by way of Michigan’s Wayne State University just as the country was roiled by inflection point after inflection point, from the ongoing public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic to weeks and months of protest over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. 

UNLV’s fourth president since 2014, Whitfield came to the higher education system at a time defined, both then and now, by a series of slow-motion crises. Budget were slashed last year as revenues fell, almost all instruction was shunted online and questions loomed as to how institutions would plan their recoveries in the absence of hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. 

Even now, as the worst public health effects of the pandemic have ebbed as vaccine availability has widened, the higher education picture remains mixed. Optimism is high for a return to largely in-person instruction in the summer and fall, but enrollments remain down from pre-pandemic levels, and administrators are waiting with bated breath to see whether lawmakers will go beyond the 12 percent budget cuts recommended by the governor. 

The Nevada Independent sat down with Whitfield to discuss some of the biggest issues facing UNLV — from the pandemic to land grant status to diversity and racism.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

How will UNLV manage COVID restrictions differently in the fall than over the past year, if at all? 

Our intention is that we're going to be back in person in the fall. We haven't hit the exact number in terms of percentages, you know, before we were 80 percent, remote 20 percent [in-person], and we vacillated around those numbers just a little bit. But we do expect that to be flipped, that we're going to have, you know, 85, maybe higher than that be in person. 

But we will still have some, we call them "hyflex" hybrid classes, where professors will actually offer both, both remote [and in person]. You know, this, it speaks to how skillful our faculty are, because it's almost like a Merv Griffin kind of moment, that they're kind of managing those two things. But I think that's one of the things we need to take as a positive, is that our faculty have kind of gained a new skill set in being able to manage their core classes and courses using technology and using that virtual environment. And they can go back to what they know best, which is doing it in person. 

So we're trying to make as much flexibility as possible. It can't be done for everybody, but we're thinking strategically about which courses we might think about trying to have in that hyflex space. And we work very closely with our faculty to figure that out. 

But that's what our intention is for the fall, that it's going to be in person, July 1.

What do you believe UNLV’s role is in managing the public health aspect of the pandemic moving forward? 

You've seen a role that we played, it's one of the things that I take a certain — I'm just so proud to be here. We have truly been an integral part of how we've been trying to encourage people for vaccinations and make sure that there was testing available. We've used our campus, we've used our faculty, we've used our staff to be able to do whatever is needed in this part of Southern Nevada, to be able to try to help with that. 

And I think you've asked a really good question, which is how will that messaging go through in the future? And it does, in part, depend on how we move. There's even some numbers that suggest that, while herd immunity may be around 80 [percent], — which, the number keeps going up, which is a little discouraging to me — there's some decision points around 60 percent. And that, we want to truly try to get us to at least 60 percent, and that that's going to help some. 

Our folks work with the Southern Nevada Health District to be able to work on some of the messaging, I did find it interesting when I was driving in this morning on one of, I think, one of our pieces of property, there's a big lighted sign saying, ‘Hey, students, you can come get a free vaccine.’ So we're going to continue to do that. 

With the drop in numbers, though, you know, there have been vaccination sites that have been closing. And we take our directions from the county and the health district, about whether they need us or not. But we're here to hang in here as long as we can. Our public health people are very interested in the messaging piece, and I think that that's going to evolve over time. You know, right now, we're starting to move into more of a time when the people who haven't gotten their vaccination, a lot of it’s because of fear and hesitancy. And we need to just be able to encourage them in different ways. 

Will UNLV students be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they can come back to in person classes? 

We will not. We do follow what the state suggests, or orders us to do, which is that that will not be a requirement. There are some requirements that the state, again, actually puts forward in terms of immunizations to attend public schools. But that's where we take our marching orders from, the state, and that is not a part of what will go on in the future. 

We really do want to encourage students to be able to get vaccinated, and to come back on our campus full time, that’s going to make our environment, our community as safe as we think it can be. So that's, that's what we're going to encourage, but there won't be a requirement.

UNLV President Keith Whitfield on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

With the expectation that the Legislature will cut 12 percent of the higher education budget this legislative session, what is UNLV’s strategy for mitigating or negating the worst effects of the cuts in the long term?  

There needs to be certain priorities. One of the priorities that we have is student success, and so we have to make sure that as students now have to transition back to the old way of doing things, that they actually have all the mechanisms that they need. We're looking into seeing ways that we can increase advisers, for example, because that creates clear pathways for our students to be able to get their degrees. So that's one element. 

Another element is about our ability to be able to hire and retain faculty. You know, that was one of the huge swaths that we used as a mechanism for being able to address the cuts from last year. And we're hoping that — you know, it's so funny to almost hope, we're not hoping for a 12 percent [cut], we're hoping that it's no more than a 12 percent cut. Because it's still going to really, severely hamstring us. 

One of the reasons why this is important is to be able to deliver the best education to our students, and to be able to have a full faculty be able to do that. Second is we've recently become a Research-1, Carnegie, top-designated research university, and that's driven by our faculty. And so having to dip into that resource that we have, in terms of being able to recruit and hire great faculty to come here, is something that worries me greatly, that it's something that we're really going to need to be able to do for us to be able to retain that status. 

In addition to that, it is the other kinds of operations that we do as a university, both internally and externally, what we give to what we provide for the community, but also the kinds of things that we just do to run our normal operations. We have people working on it, I would say, you know, I could call them any point in time and say, ‘What are you doing,’ and they're working on trying to figure out ways that we can find efficiencies, because we're being forced to. It’s not necessarily the best practice, may not even be the best thing for us. But it's to accommodate and to try to adjust to a budget cut.

One major higher education issue in the Legislature right now is SB287, which would formally designate UNLV and the Desert Research Institute as land grant institutions in statute. Why do you think SB287 is necessary or good, or both, for UNLV? 

Our perspective on all of this is that we want to figure out a way to grow the pie, as it were, for the state. There are grants that can be pursued; we've identified a number of them, that we have the talent, and because of our location, to be able to do that. We are an urban research university, and that's a very unique combination of skills, where it's not just even for the city — we do outreach into rural areas, as well — and so we have that balance there, and there are some opportunities for us to be able to do that. 

It doesn't necessarily mean it just because we're local, but we are in this part of the state, we're connected to the community, but we're going to be connected even more to the community as time goes on. And so our ability to be able to help provide support for different aspects of the community, whether it be, you know, 4-H, or….urban sorts of things in terms of economic growth and things, those are things that can fall under that land grant item, that we're very well positioned to do — we're already committed to doing those things. 

But it would be great to have those additional dollars. Those additional dollars come to the state and they have more of an impact than just paying for people, they actually promote other parts of economic growth for the state. Just because there's indirect costs, it's less of a reliance on other things. I mean, you have to be careful with research dollars, because research actually usually costs money as much as it actually brings dollars in, but this is one where we kind of grow the brand of this part of the state as being both you know, community serving and research oriented. 

And the land grant status designation is not only for us, but for [the Desert Research Institute] as well. We think we'll really be able to help that and expand that. So it's more of an issue of just making sure that there's fairness and the opportunity to be able to grow and do other things.

I want to ask specifically about the Extension, because President Brian Sandoval at UNR has said that there is no more room for the pie to grow, that there won’t be more federal dollars available if this change is made and that it will irrevocably harm programs already offered by UNR without being able to fully fund those same programs at UNLV. What would you say to that? 

It's an interesting perspective. And I think from our university's perspective, we think a lot about collaborating. I think this is the idea of, too, that, you know, when I say grow the pie, that doesn't mean that there's only one slice per person. It's the idea that we can actually take some of these things and make an approach that's more of a collaborative approach, so that we can actually provide the best services that are possible. 

Some of that money for Extension also comes from the county, [Clark County Commission Chair] Marilyn Kirkpatrick has spoken about this, and actually asked that the state, you know, put more money into Extension, and some of that comes from our citizens as well. And so we want to make sure that we can provide the additional kinds of assistance operations programs that we're suited to be able to help do. And some of that could come from collaborations between our universities, rather than just saying, "It's yours, or it's mine." I don't think that that is a way forward on most things. We really need to figure out when we can collaborate and President Sandoval and I have said this, now, a number of times — when we can collaborate, it makes sense to collaborate. And when we can compete, it makes sense for us to compete. 

There's, I think, there's several things that make it sensible for us to be able to collaborate on some of those things, maybe make better, more efficient use of some of those dollars. And that's our perspective on it. 

Our biggest thing, too, is that we don't want to do any harm. We're not looking to try to take away programs, we're trying to figure out, "Hey, is there a way that we either, you know, programming starts here at UNLV, or programming might be some that we reach out to our partner or our collaborator, UNR, that work that's done here in Southern Nevada, that we're better positioned to be able to help do, that we can actually take it to another level and do better.” 

Sometimes, it's not always about the individual dollar, it's about the effort and the people that are there. And given our connection to the community, our desire to do everything we can — I think that's demonstrated through COVID, but it really extends to everything we do. This is a possible benefit, rather than thinking about shrinking dollars.

So when we discuss fairness and equity as part of the land grant issue, what does that mean? 

I think it's more opportunity than anything else, that we have the opportunity to, one, provide services, and two, it’s not just those Extension dollars, it is these other grant dollars that are available, too. There, there are millions of them that are out there that we can do. 

And, you know, that's the main crux of the idea, of just being fair. Again, one of our priorities will always be, and I think this is an easy one to think of, that we want to make sure that nothing actually decreases in terms of services and opportunities for people. We actually want to try to grow them. And so we think us being able to be at the table offers an opportunity for us to grow that, and then that it's a fair operation going forward.

unlv campus
UNLV campus on Thursday, April 8, 2021. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

So as a relatively recent outsider to the state, have you observed a regionalism or rivalry between UNR and UNLV in terms of access to funding or resources? 

It's so funny when you start that, Jacob, and you said, you know, “as an outsider.” I love this town, I love being here, so, you know, I'm struggling with that a little bit, but I do understand that I have a relatively recent understanding, interacting, seeing what goes on, some of the conversations that go back and forth. 

I think that a little bit of it does exist, a little bit of it still does exist. I think even the history is very complicated, because when I've looked at things like people have looked and said, “Oh, look at all the funding that goes to UNR,” but you know, they've taken a different approach to certain things, like they have used their bonding capabilities differently than we have. And so there's some differences between those two that are differences in approaches. 

They are — in higher ed, we think about it as, they're a residential college or they're a residential university. And we're an urban university, and it usually comes with, I hate the word, but it's “commuter campus.” And so we attack and we deal with things in a different way, in a different approach. 

I hear about the history, and I know that it comes from changes in, you know, the power base, and where people were and all those other kinds of things. And I tell you, I listened to it, I love hearing history — I never let it constrain me, I never let it constrain what we can do as a state, because this is one state. 

I'm not so Pollyanna-ish to believe that we'll just eliminate that, you know, people have blue and people have red, they're going to….have those things in terms of both their political affiliations as well as their university affiliations. But I think we have to just make sure that we keep the greater good in mind. This is one of the things that I have so enjoyed about working with President Sandoval so far, is that we really do share that, you know, hey, you know, I bleed red, he bleeds blue. That's absolutely fine. But if we see something, that's an opportunity, and we are looking at some opportunities right now, with the leadership of President [Kahmud] Acharya at DRI, of ways that the three research universities around research that we can collaborate. And Chancellor [Melody] Rose is — she is a very important, unique person. And she was a really good pick, partly too because she's outside (Rose was appointed chancellor last year following decades of higher education administration experience in Oregon). And she comes with me, with not that ingrained thinking of one or the other, but thinks about possible collaborations. 

But we have talked about other ways in which, for example, community colleges, and the four years can actually work together — I have experienced from having been in my last institution of having pathways from community colleges to four-year institutions that make it so that it fosters if students want to do that, they can do that. And it benefits not only the four-year institution, but also the community college. And so you know, community colleges are very, very complex and different ways than research universities are, and the pathways that they create for students are critically important. 

[Nevada] ranks very, very low in terms of college-educated folks. And so we have to figure out every which way we can to be able to make it so that people who do want to pursue a four-year education can do it. And so it is this bigger — I think that's what Chancellor Rose tries to keep us mindful of — is that, you know, there's much more at stake, than just whether we win the [Fremont] cannon any one year, it really is these other things. 

We can have fun doing some of those competitive things, but the things that we can collaborate on that actually build capacity, build opportunities for folks, we need to make sure that we do. And like I said, President Sandoval and I have agreed on that. And he I think, is a very honorable person, and he has stuck with that. But there's things that we compete on, there's things that we want for our institutions, as well. And so we have to manage those two different pressures.

One of the criticisms made of the push for SB287 is that it has been donor driven, rather than driven by UNLV. Do you believe that the donors have outsized influence in these kinds of policy decisions for UNLV? 

I'd say now, what it is, is more of a collaboration. You probably noted recently, we named the School of Medicine the Kerkorian School of Medicine. That was not done because we were strong-armed some kind of way. That was, it’s that we talked about it — it's way before my time, that was talked about. One of the possibilities, or even of actually eventualities, is that you name schools, and particularly medical schools. It's very important. If you look at what's happening in the landscape of higher education, that gives a certain level of prominence to universities. 

And for us, you know, that particular example is one where we said, “You know, we're working together doing these things, we have certain desires, and guess what, we've found a way that it ultimately benefits both of us.” You know, I know that there's things that are going on in the background — you noted the [Vegas Chamber] and the chamber has been supportive of things that would benefit us. And I have very good friends in the chamber, but I don't think that they're thinking about UNLV specifically, they're thinking about the region, you know, that's what a chamber is actually for. So they're promoting those things, and then we're a mechanism by which we help them. 

I mean, we're a great piece of that, and they do see, I think, the promise and the capabilities of this great university to be able to do those things. And so those things get intertwined. There's lots of ways that states move forward. And those entities that you talked about are very active in things that affect both Las Vegas and the state. But our relationship with them is one that is one that's built on trust; that's what had to be there, was that we had to trust each other. 

We trusted them, that they shared our passion for trying to grow health care in the state of Nevada. And then you come together. It's a partnership, but it is really based on trust, it goes back and forth. We have good communications, we have good connections with them. As you know, we've had a couple of changes in leadership, but we have absolutely outstanding leadership. That, too — what I like is that they appreciate it. They're like, “Oh, you share the same passion as us,” and so then it becomes a partnership.

UNLV campus on Thursday, April 8, 2021. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

It’s been a couple months since you mentioned a push to tackle systemic racism at UNLV in your State of the University address. How are the initiatives you mentioned at the time shaping up? 

Well, we're positioning ourselves to figure out just what those initiatives have been. I was blessed to be able to come to a university that was already talking about those well before what we saw happen last year, and even the current situation with George Floyd. You know, our office [for student diversity and social justice] has been there for, I think it's three years now. So those things are nothing new, we're tied for the second most diverse campus in the country. And that, then, has been a piece of how we've understood who we are. 

And so, my arriving, it was really to say that, let's not fool ourselves. I think sometimes in education and higher education, we believe that, because we're educated, that racism doesn't have, you know, a foothold. And it does. And I think we're trying to be honest with ourselves about it, and think about ways that we can try to deal with that. 

We've talked about this relative to hiring faculty. While we have a very diverse student body, our faculty isn't as diverse. I try to be nice, because I think our faculty, particularly the faculty Senate, our leaders, they're really passionate that we need to change these. And I go, “You know, be nice to ourselves, because we're not as far behind as others are.” Yes, we can do better, but you know, we've got a foundation to be able to do better. 

But it's those structural things, and it's some of the interactions. It's so fascinating, because it's another kind of interaction or intersection that we have, like last year. What we had was the intersection between seeing George Floyd and what happened to him that intersected with COVID and a pandemic. And it was like these two monumental things that were changing our lives that really were this fascinating intersection that, hopefully, will bring long, sustainable change. 

I think now we're at another point where we're recovering, and we're in a position to create a new normal. So what is that new normal going to be? And it's both between “Are we going to wear masks?” That is now one of the big questions. And also, “What are we going to do, trying to make a more fair, just and equitable society?” 

And so it's something that — we're leaning on [former Chief Diversity Officer Barbee Oakes], the history that she's done, but our chief diversity officer has retired. And we've thought about that as not — while it's a huge loss, I mean, I am very sorry to see her go, because I think that she was really a force — but it does give us an opportunity to try to reset and to try to think, “Okay, so let's look now at what we've done and think about how we're going to do the next level.” 

And so we're having those conversations both with faculty, staff, and with students, about what we might want to try to do, moving into both the summertime and then into the fall. I think you're gonna see a lot more activities where we make sure that we hear the voices of students and faculty and staff. I think that has been one of the biggest challenges, is that it's not necessarily about numbers sometimes. Because when you talk about effective groups, sometimes, or disadvantaged groups, many times they're minority groups, meaning that they're a smaller group. But what you want to do is to be able to hear those voices. And so we've been trying to set up ways to hear voices. 

One of the things that I really have enjoyed doing, and we're only stopping because graduation’s coming up, is that I've been having lunches with students. And we do them virtually, it's not opportune, but we have a lot of fun. And they really bring up a lot of conversations, a lot of issues, that I then, you know, have a little notepad, I start taking them down, and I go to my Cabinet, my staff, and we start talking about ways that we can try to address those. 

And so there are some things that are behind the scenes that are smaller issues that we're working on a building, and there aren't going to be other things that we're going to see and think of. I think we're going to see ways in which we can try to make sure that, as we look at pools of [faculty] candidates, that there's always a good amount of diversity in those pools. And if not, we don't think about them as being successful candidate searches. 

Taking a look at our curriculum and seeing what opportunities we have to be able to really provide diversity, one of my little pet desires is to be able to use small videos, short videos, and other opportunities to be able to build cultural intelligence. And that be something that a student could walk away and show to a future employer, “Hey, you know, I'm going to be a great team member, I'm going to be a team member not only in terms of the state, maybe nationally, maybe internationally, but because I've got a great education, but I've also got these other experiences, and some of them are, in the way of being able to understand issues around cultural intelligence.”

So we've got a few dreams of things. We've got to keep our eye on the budget to make sure we can do things that are sustainable, because we don't want to start things that we ultimately have to end, either because we don't have the money now or that we have the money in that it's one time funding, which is a lot of money that's coming from the federal government, even from the state. We want to build things that are going to be sustainable and put us on a different trajectory relative to trying to deal with issues of diversity.

Ancillary to all this, the Hey Reb! mascot was also retired in January. What was the thought process behind that decision?  

You know, my predecessor, Marta Meana, actually started that process [last year]. And essentially, we weren't using it for anything in terms of what our goings on were. A lot of times you see those characters at some of the sporting events, and so that was so different [under pandemic restrictions], so we didn't see him there. 

And so that really started before then, and so by the time we came to January, and I just thought, “This has been such a longstanding issue that we have already kind of moved in this direction, we're going to stay in that direction.”

So was it more related to the history and perception of Hey Reb!, or was it a function of inertia, that Hey Reb! was already more or less phased out by that time? 

Well, I'll be honest with you, the background of why he wasn't in use is because of those beliefs about that. And what's fascinating is, I can't remember which bill it is, but there's actually a bill that likely would have put a lot of pressure on us to do something about it. I think it's now positioned more for the high schools, but if you do have any mascot, or representation, that represents racism, or bias or whatever. 

So there is an actual bill now that's being considered around that, I think we were just a little out ahead of it, because we've been dealing with it and thinking about it for a long time. But you know, those things were behind it. 

We’re rebels. I mean, that's what we are. And believe it or not, people weren't completely happy with me keeping the “Rebel” name. Because they, in some ways, think about that rebel name with that. You know, we really want to be thoughtful about who we are as a university, and that we are “rebels,” we try to do things differently. We're not afraid to try to invent and initiate and be entrepreneurial and go out that kind of — you know, I've been called a rebel all my life. And so I don't have any problems with that. 

But I really did listen to people, and I think that there was a difference between how people view that caricature and view the name “rebel.” Also, nationally, this university is known as the UNLV Rebels. It's one of those things where, you know, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's all good, but I don't think that it's one that we can say has the same kind of, you know, problems or issues that we saw with the caricature [of Hey Reb]. I think that there's a certain amount of pride that we can take when being rebels and being different down here in this part of the state, and so I'm hoping that we continue to embrace that.

As other colleges and universities have phased out racist mascots or alumni songs or other spirit-related traditions, there’s been pushback from some big-money university donors. Did you see any complaints from donors when Hey Reb! was retired? 

I didn't. Our donors, we’re very thankful for them, they're part of our community. And when I spoke to them, I was really surprised that there are people who said, “Yeah, we've been arguing about this for forever, you know, it's not a big deal, let it go,” or others that say that, “You know, I do think that there was an issue with it.” 

To be honest with you, I was surprised. I thought that there was going to be much more pushback from donors who have that heritage. It's that they've always seen that particular caricature, and that somehow, just because they've seen it, actually made it more important than what it was. I think the idea of keeping who we are, as rebels, was far more important to them. That was more of an identity than that caricature was.

Regents name Keith Whitfield as new UNLV president

regents meeting

The Nevada Board of Regents unanimously approved the appointment of Keith Whitfield as UNLV’s newest president at a special meeting Thursday, providing a replacement for interim President Marta Meana and ending the two-year vacancy triggered by the sudden departure of former President Len Jessup in 2018.

Whitfield, who will also be UNLV’s first Black president, comes by way of Wayne State University in Detroit, where he serves as provost, senior vice president of academic affairs and a professor of psychology. He previously served as a vice provost for academic affairs at Duke University, where he was also a professor of psychology and a research professor. 

UNLV President Keith Whitfield (Courtesy/NSHE)

In discussing his confirmation as president, Regent Trevor Hayes, who chaired the search committee, praised his academic work, saying in part that he couldn’t remember a candidate with as many published papers as Whitfield.

The terms of Whifield’s four-year contract stipulate a $500,000 base salary per fiscal year, as well as $8,000 per year for a car allowance, $18,000 in a housing allowance and a $5,000 host account — all effective Aug. 24.

Whitfield will be the 11th president at UNLV, but already the third to take the job since 2009, not including two acting presidents who also served over that time span. 

His predecessor, Jessup, left in an acrimonious divorce from the university in April 2018, blaming his exit on “personal and professional” attacks from regents and Chancellor Thom Reilly. Meana, at the time the dean of the university’s Honors College, took over as acting president in July of that year. 

She had expressed an interest in applying for the permanent position in the latter half of 2019, but announced in February that she was bowing out of the process. At the time, she said that her plans “did not align” with the need for a new permanent president to make a long-term commitment to UNLV.

The decision by regents to name a new president was an expedited one, spurred by the possibility that one of the three external candidates for the job could accept a new position elsewhere should the selection process drag on for too long. 

It also comes as one of three high-level replacements among top jobs at the Nevada System of Higher Education and its institutions. Regents last month selected Melody Rose to take over as system chancellor in the fall, while a decision on a new permanent president at UNR is expected later this year. 

Whitfield will take over the job at a time of ongoing uncertainty both for UNLV and for the state’s higher education system at large, as the still-rippling economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic have gutted revenues and triggered widespread budget reductions that have only deepened as the pandemic continues to drag on. 

In a coda to last week’s special legislative session called to plug the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole, legislators piled on an additional $25 million cut to NSHE. It raised the total amount cut for fiscal year 2021 to roughly $135 million and, for the first time, raised the specter of layoffs at the state’s seven colleges and universities. 

Additional revenue losses at each institution caused by the pandemic have only deepened the financial crisis. At UNLV alone, administrators estimated more than $62 million in lost revenue and additional expenditures for the 2021 fiscal year.

UNLV removes statue of mascot, Hey Reb!, from campus

UNLV campus

UNLV President Marta Meana confirmed in a statement Tuesday night that the university was removing a statue of its mascot, known as “Hey Reb!,” from its pedestal outside the Tam Alumni Center on the university’s campus.

The mascot, which depicts a mustachioed 19th-century mountain man, has long been a lightning rod as some have considered Hey Reb!, and especially his “rebel” namesake, as a veiled reference to the confederacy. 

The university has a long, often controversial history of using confederate symbolism to mark its split from the University of Nevada, Reno in the 1950s and 60s. It’s student paper long ran under the masthead of The Rebel Yell (now called the Scarlet and Gray), and the school’s 1960s and 70s mascot, a wolf named Beauregard, wore gray confederate regalia. 

But many defenders of “Hey Reb!” and the “Rebel” branding at large say there is no connection to the confederacy, nor is there a racist bent to the mascot. Instead, it is a reference to the “rebellious” nature of the school’s birth in the 1950s and its rivalry with its Northern Nevada counterpart. 

A study commissioned by UNLV in 2015 and conducted by the university’s then-Chief Diversity Officer, Rainier Spencer, found that the “rebels” moniker predated the first use of confederate imagery in 1955, and any explicit confederate symbols were done away with more than 40 years ago. 

But anti-racist protests that have gripped the nation in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have shed a fresh light on the use of statues as racist symbolism, and Hey Reb! — even if devoid of confederate imagery — will likely remain under scrutiny in the coming days and weeks. 

In her statement, Meana said the decision came after discussions with multiple individuals and in the wake of widespread anti-racist protests across the country, and that the donor of the statue mutually agreed to remove it from campus.

“Over the past few months, I have had discussions with multiple individuals and stakeholder groups from campus and the community on how best the university can move forward given recent events throughout our nation,” Meana said. “That includes the future of our mascot. The frequency of those conversations has increased in recent weeks, and I will have more to share with campus once the listening tour is complete.”

Regents approve proposal for steep cuts, aim to avoid layoffs

Students at UNR's Joe Crowley Student Union

The Board of Regents approved a proposal for sweeping reductions Friday that would cut between $68 and $124 million from the Nevada System of Higher Education budget amid the most drastic crunch to hit state revenues since the 2008 financial crisis. 

Such cuts come as the state prepares to deal with unprecedented economic pain from an ongoing coronavirus shutdown that has mothballed entire industries and sent nearly a quarter of a million Nevadans to the unemployment rolls in just three weeks. 

The proposal includes a 4 percent cut to fiscal year 2020 budgets and scenarios for a 6, 10 or 14 percent cut in fiscal year 2021. Cuts are blunted somewhat by federal coronavirus aid provided through the CARES Act, which is set to buoy the system by roughly $30.4 million. 

But all eight institutions across the higher education system agreed to enact strict hiring freezes and slash operating budgets as a means to meet even the least-damaging cut scenario of 6 percent for 2021. 

Those moves will likely comprise the largest single cuts, amounting to roughly $18.9 million saved in 2020 and between $11.4 million and $33.3 million in 2021, depending on the severity of the cuts required. 

Only at the highest-cut scenarios, 10 and 14 percent in 2021, will the system enact furloughs. Those furloughs would start at 2.3 percent reductions for all professional staff under the 10-percent cut scenario, amounting to six days per year of furloughed time. Those furloughs would double under a 14-percent cut to 4.6 percent, or 12 days of furloughed time. 

The proposed furloughs would save an estimated $21 million and, according to Chancellor Thom Reilly, spare nearly 300 layoffs. 

“These [furloughs] were only considered as a last resort,” Reilly said. 

The 14 percent scenario would also include a temporary increase to per-credit student fees, including $8 per credit for graduate fees, $6 for undergraduate, $5 for Nevada State College and $3 for the state’s community colleges. NSHE Chief Financial Officer Andrew Clinger said those fees would raise an additional $10 million, assuming current projections for fall enrollment bear out. 

Those fee increases would mimic similarly temporary fees that went into effect during the Great Recession, and which lasted for five years before finally being removed following the 2012-2013 academic year. 

Speaking during the regent’s teleconferenced meeting Friday, UNLV President Marta Meana said specific cuts at UNLV were driven in part by an aim to insulate the quality of student education and the university’s research projects.

“We've been through difficult times before and we have risen from those depths to attain our Tier 1 status and to improve all of our student success metrics so I believe we will get through this setback,” Meana said. “But we have to be realistic about the immediate impact of these budget cuts on our strategic goals.”

Meana also said that a crucial component of today’s proposal was the inclusion of federal aid. Without that money — which so far will not extend beyond 2021 — Meana said the university could face “a more drastic situation.”

UNR President Marc Johnson said the reductions “will set back the university’s momentum quite a bit,” adding that the steepest cuts, 14 percent, would “decimate” operating funds for travel and supplies and would leave “nothing left to take” from a hiring freeze.

Johnson in part steered UNR through the deepest troughs of The Great Recession, a time in which the university cut entire programs, shrinking to core programs instead. Because of that, Johnson said the university won’t look at such options “at this point in time.”

Friday’s emergency meeting came as Gov. Steve Sisolak looks to cut state budgets across the board. The governor’s office had set a deadline for agencies to submit budgets for review by Monday. 

In reality, it meant a scramble to re-tool a billion-dollar budget that lasted up to the very last minute; tables were added as late as Thursday night according to Reilly, and the final document did not become public until Friday morning, just hours before regents were set to meet. 

Today’s proposal will likely form only the basis of finer budget negotiations in the coming weeks and months. Closing Friday’s meeting, Board Chair Jason Geddes told regents that he expected to call another emergency meeting to address ongoing coronavirus fallout soon. 

Nevada higher ed spent more than $700,000 on buyouts in 2019, NSHE counsel says

UNLV campus

UNLV made up for nearly half of all spending by Nevada colleges and universities on buyouts in 2019, shelling out roughly $347,000 on just six buyouts over the last calendar year. 

System General Counsel Joe Reynolds told the regents that such buyouts are often used to avoid costly legal fights for schools or school employees looking to part ways. The payments have become especially commonplace at UNLV, where spending on buyouts ballooned to more than $3 million over a two-year period.

Reynolds told the regents that, despite the large sum from UNLV, spending on buyouts was down about 65 percent from 2018, though he cautioned that it was not “an apples to apples comparison.”

Other buyout spending — which totaled roughly $713,000 — included $91,000 from UNR for four buyouts, $77,000 for three buyouts from CSN, $71,000 for two buyouts at TMCC, $25,000 for one buyout at Great Basin College, $40,000 for one at the Desert Research Institute, and another $60,000 for one buyout at system administration. There were no buyouts at either Western Nevada College or Nevada State College. 

“Let’s be real clear, none of the institutions really had a problem with this except for UNLV, just to be blunt,” System Chancellor Thom Reilly said.

Reilly added that, though the $3 million representing funding that could have flowed elsewhere, the reduction to $350,000 represented a marked improvement in spending trends. 

“I want to credit President [Marta] Meana on this because it’s not easy to start changing culture and start saying ‘no,’” Reilly said. 

UNLV announces $9 million donation to spur development of tribal gaming programs in hospitality, law schools

Sign in front of the UNLV College of Engineering

UNLV administrators announced Friday a $9 million donation from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, a Southern-California-based tribe that operates a large casino near San Bernardino, meant to spur the development of a number of new tribal gaming programs at the university’s Harrah College of Hospitality and Boyd School of Law. 

At an event held at the university’s Hospitality Hall, interim UNLV President Marta Meana said the gift marked a “historic” joint-venture between the university and San Manuel, and marked the tribe’s single largest gift to an “out-of-market” educational or health care institution. 

“This philanthropic gift will position UNLV as the nation’s leading source for education and innovation related to tribal gaming operations and law,” Meana said. 

The $9 million gift will be split into two parts, with $6 million going to the hospitality school for an endowed chair in tribal gaming and new coursework, including the creation of online certificate courses, and the remaining $3 million going to the law school for additional research on the subject and the addition of a professor-in-residence. 

Stowe Shoemaker, dean of the hospitality college, told The Nevada Independent that the new money would be “transformative” for the school’s existing tribal gaming coursework. 

“The real advantage is that as tribal gaming expands, there's a desperate need for educated workers who understand the uniqueness of tribal gaming, but also understand the uniqueness of creating great experiences and the gaming environments,” Shoemaker said. “This gift allows us to really help further and educate in those areas.”

University administrators say work is already under way to incorporate or expand on the subject of tribal gaming within the existing curriculum, with efforts to bring in additional faculty for the instruction of new classes expected to happen soon. 

Interim UNLV President Meana bows out of search for permanent president

UNLV president marta meana

Interim UNLV President Marta Meana will not seek a permanent appointment to the presidency, making the announcement to a group of university deans and other administrators at a regularly scheduled meeting late last month. 

In a statement released Monday morning, Meana confirmed that she declined the opportunity to apply and urged the campus community to “get involved” in the selection process.

“Serving as your acting president for almost two years now has been the honor of a lifetime, but my plans do not align with UNLV’s need for a president who can make a commitment for an extended period of time,” the statement read. 

Meana added that she has no plans to leave the university, and will continue on as the university’s interim leader until a new permanent president is in place. 

Meana’s decision has left the door open for other major internal candidates — including William S. Boyd School of Law Dean Daniel Hamilton and longtime UNLV administrator and interim Provost Christopher Heavey — to throw their hats into the race ahead of last Friday’s application deadline.  

In an interview with The Nevada Independent, Hamilton, who confirmed he had applied for the post, said he would never have gone for the job had Meana stayed in the running. 

“She has done a terrific job as president, and I was surprised when she decided not to apply for the permanent position,” Hamilton said. “She's done a great deal in a short time for UNLV, and because of her leadership, and Len [Jessup's] before her, we are well positioned as a university so that when suddenly it became a possibility to apply, I decided, after a lot of thinking and talking it over with different people, to apply for president of UNLV.”

Heavey confirmed that he, too, submitted an application for the search in an email, but did not comment further with the search process still ongoing. 

The search comes as major question marks continue to cloud UNLV’s future, namely the as-yet-unannounced successor to exiting system Chancellor Thom Reilly and the looming vote on AJR5, a constitutional amendment that would increase legislative control of the system by removing the Regents’ constitutional authority. 

It also comes with the history of a rocky relationship between the Board of Regents and Meana’s predecessor Jessup, who left the university in 2018 and blamed his departure on “personal and professional attacks” by the regents. 

With the application deadline passed, the next stage of the selection process will come in late March, when the selection committee will bring finalists to campus.

UNLV names Dr. Marc Kahn as new medical school dean

A student walking in front of the UNLV School of Medicine building

The UNLV School of Medicine announced Wednesday that Tulane University’s Dr. Marc J. Kahn would take over as the school’s dean on April 1. The addition comes following the movement of the school’s founding dean, Dr. Barbara Atkinson, to an advisory role late last year.

Kahn will take over for Interim Dean Dr. John Fildes, who stepped into the top job following Atkinson's announcement.

A senior associate dean at Tulane’s medical school, Kahn had also served as director of the school’s MD/MBA program and as chief of staff at the Tulane University Hospital and Clinic. 

Kahn’s hiring comes at a time when few other top posts across the Nevada System of Higher Education have permanent appointees. UNLV has been helmed by interim President Marta Meana since 2018, while UNR President Marc Johnson and system Chancellor Thom Reilly are both set to leave this year. 

In a statement released by the university, Kahn said he is coming to UNLV in part because its medical school — founded in 2014 — was so new. 

“Throughout my career, I have been passionate about developing and accessing novel programs in medical education at both the student and faculty level,” Kahn said. “[The] UNLV School of Medicine is in a prime position to innovate as it grows and become a national leader.”

Kahn’s hiring also comes on the heels of an announcement last year that $155 million in funding for a new medical education building had been secured by private donors — the most funding the building has received since original concepts took shape in 2016. 

Development corporation to build UNLV’s long-awaited medical school building

The sign at the UNLV Shadow Lane Campus

When Gov. Steve Sisolak announced more than $155 million in private funds for a centerpiece building at the UNLV Medical School last November, it was the end result of nearly a decade of negotiating over an edifice that had more than once been thrown into the waste bin.

It was a project that had lived, died and lived again. Visions of a grandiose, state-of-the-art facility were scuttled as ideas for a more modest library surfaced, all as donors committed millions before backing out, a university president rose and fell — and a fledgling medical school hung in the balance.  

Yet today, its construction appears more likely than ever, with at least $180 million in private and public funds at the ready in a project the governor lauded as “monumental step forward” and a watershed moment for the state’s “culture of philanthropy.”

So how did it happen?

A brief history

For five decades, Nevada’s only medical school has resided in Reno, tucked into the northern half of the downtown campus at UNR. But amid a backdrop of an ever-worsening physician shortage across Las Vegas — and a push to further legitimize the still-young UNLV — efforts to establish a new medical school in the south finally coalesced in 2014. 

It was then that a planning dean, Dr. Barbara Atkinson, was appointed to head up the school’s start-up phase as the regents looked to secure funding from the Legislature in the 2015 legislative session. That funding was eventually greenlit just as some of the largest obstacles — most notably the start of the accreditation process — were overcome through 2015 and 2016. 

But even as the university secured land and state money for a massive proposed facility to house this new medical school — with plans envisioning a sprawling, $200 million, 200,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art building — little was ultimately set in stone.  

As 2017 neared a close, uncertainty loomed as officials looked to extend deadlines indefinitely on a pre-construction contract in hopes the school would secure additional financial backers. By early 2018, tensions were flaring between UNLV’s President Len Jessup and the Board of Regents. During a regent’s meeting in March of that year, regents complained to Jessup that costs had ballooned to $238 million — more than twice the original estimate of $100 million. 

All the while, fundraising continued to lag as UNLV brought in just $67 million by the time of the meeting. 

Less than two weeks later, media reports surfaced that Jessup — now being pressured by Chancellor Thom Reilly to resign or be fired — was actively seeking a new job elsewhere. A day later, the Engelstad Family Foundation pulled its $14 million donation to the project, citing a condition that the money would only come through should Jessup stay on as university president. 

By April 2018, Jessup was out as the university’s president, leaving in an acrimonious divorce he said was brought on by the “personal and professional attacks” of system, Reilly and the regents. 

With Jessup gone — alongside the Engelstad’s money — plans were revised to a more modest 49,000 square-foot medical library at a cost of $57 million. But that, too, drew donor unease, and the plan was scrapped, according to an interview interim UNLV President Marta Meana gave the Las Vegas Review-Journal in late 2018. 

By the middle of 2019, a new, seemingly final plan had emerged. To be financed through $128 million in bonds, UNLV would seek to build a classroom-bearing building of 140,000 square feet — a goldilocks option of the three plans to that point. 

But, should current plans hold, it will likely never see the light of day. 

To Build A Building

When Sisolak’s announcement of more than $155 in funding for the school arrived just days before the Thanksgiving holiday, it came as something of a surprise. The regents had last moved over the summer to approve more than $100 million in bonds to pay for a new facility, but little more had surfaced before the governor’s remarks. 

For the philanthropic group that would eventually coalesce around funding a medical school, it had become clear that there would be no path forward through the traditional structures of the university system. 

What changed? The addition of a development corporation. 

Also called by the shorthand “Devco,” development corporations function as a development middleman to public-private partnerships that have become common across American universities. Such corporations generally spearhead large or costly developments before handing over ownership of such a development to the university. 

That would also be the case in Las Vegas, where, once construction of the massive med-school-centerpiece is complete, ownership of the building would transfer over to UNLV. 

Kris Engelstad McGarry, a trustee of the Engelstad Foundation, a longtime donor to UNLV and an early supporter of the school’s medical program, told The Nevada Independent that the key to securing the future of the fledgling medical program was to persuade the powers that be that a development corporation might provide a path forward. 

“We knew there was a real need and it was something that we could help with. But we're continually hit with "no's" or why something couldn't work, and I think it took thinking outside the box to think 'what can we do to make it work,’” Engelstad McGarry said. “There has to be a yes out there somewhere, and we were really just chipping away until we figured out what that would be.”

But for Engelstad McGarry — who had long been a vocal supporter of ousted President Jessup — part of the calculus behind the creation of the development corporation was the ability to side-step the existing institutional apparatus that, in her view, had so far strangled previous attempts at a medical school. 

“For me, it became a matter of thinking around excluding [university leadership] in every way,” Engelstad McGarry said. “Because it didn't appear that they wanted to partner with us, at least not in a way that we could do.”

Pointing to a raft of vacancies of the system’s top jobs — the chancellor, UNLV president and UNR president are or will soon be vacant or held by interim appointees — Engelstad McGarry said such uncertainty would make it “very difficult for them to make some kind of long-term building decision when they don't know who's going to fill in slots.”

Still, because of the intervening holiday period, details of the project remain scarce even more than six weeks after Sisolak’s announcement — though Engelstad McGarry said more details should become available by the end of the first quarter of 2020. 

Even so, Warren Hardy, a former legislator who helped negotiate the new deal, said the use of a development corporation should help speed the process along once plans are set — plans that he says will be instrumental in the full establishment of the medical school.

“Anything we can do legislatively or from a policy perspective is important, but at the end of the day, it doesn't have an impact unless you have a facility like this to grow your own doctors, because at the end of the day, doctors are just like teachers,” Hardy said. “They go, they get their education, they build their careers and ultimately everybody wants to go home. So if this is home, if this is where they got their education, this is where they'll come home to, this is where they'll stay.”  

Biden brings in biggest total from itemized donors in Nevada, Sanders pockets most individual donations

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaking during a campaign event

Democratic presidential hopefuls pocketed more than half a million dollars in itemized contributions from Nevadans in the third quarter of the year as they prepare for a final push ahead of the early nominating contests in February.

Former Vice President Joe Biden raised the largest total sum, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received the most individual itemized donations, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week. Other candidates who raised significant sums from Nevadans include Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Federal campaign finance reports only list itemized contributions — those that are more than $200 or, when combined with other contributions over the election cycle, exceed $200 — meaning that the analysis does not take into consideration smaller sums that the candidates may have raised from Nevadans. For instance, Sanders’ campaign said that they received more than 30,000 individual donations, both itemized and not, from nearly 10,000 Nevadans, but other campaigns were not able to readily share similar data with The Nevada Independent.

The campaign finance reports hint at the kind of support the campaigns have here on the ground in Nevada, with Biden raising significant sums from well-known casino executives and former elected officials while Sanders and Warren tended to bring in generally smaller amounts from everyday donors. They also reveal how candidates may or may not be gaining traction here: Self-help author Marianne Williamson has been to Nevada eight times since launching her campaign and raised about $15,000 here this quarter, while former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who has been here 10 times, only raised $2,800.

Some in Nevada also aren’t willing to choose a side yet. The reports show that Democratic donor Stephen Cloobeck donated the maximum $2,800 primary contribution to four candidates — Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — and $1,000 to Buttigieg, while former Regent Jill Derby has spread $4,660 among seven Democratic hopefuls.

At the same time, the sums they are raising individually are dwarfed by what President Donald Trump raised in the state in the third quarter — about $320,000 across roughly 5,000 individual donations.

Below, The Nevada Independent takes a look at which corners of the state the candidates are raising the most from and breaks down each individual candidate’s Nevada donations.

Joe Biden

The former vice president brought in the biggest haul of any Democratic presidential hopeful — about $206,000 once refunds were taken into account — from itemized donors in Nevada in the third quarter. He was the fifth top fundraiser overall among the Democratic field this quarter, bringing in $15.7 million in donations.

His list of Nevada donors this quarter includes many of the who’s who in Las Vegas, from gaming executives to members of prominent families, and is largely made up of big money donors, with $191,902 of his total coming from contributions of $1,000 or more.

Two of his biggest contributions came from Bob Boughner, who sits on the board of directors for Boyd Gaming and donated $5,600 to Biden’s campaign, and UNLV President Marta Meana, who contributed $5,000. 

He received the maximum $2,800 contribution to a primary campaign from several notable Nevadans, including MGM Resorts Chief Hospitality Officer Ari Kastrati; Diana Bennet, co-founder of Paragon Gaming, Dr. Larry Lehrner, a nephrologist and husband of former Rep. Shelley Berkley; Marilynn Mack, daughter of the late real estate investor Jerry Mack; Amy Greenspun Arenson, daughter of Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun; and Billy Vassiliadis, CEO of R&R Partners.

Other notable contributions: Biden received a $500 sum from Tina Quigley, the head of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, and several installments totaling $500 from former Rep. James Bilbray and his wife, Michaelene Bilbray.

Both Bilbray and Berkley have endorsed Biden in his presidential bid.

In total, Biden received about 570 individual itemized contributions in Nevada.

Bernie Sanders

The Vermont senator raised the second most among the Democratic field in Nevada, about $104,000 after refunds, but had the most individual itemized donations. Still, the 2,900 individual itemized donations Sanders received is eclipsed by the 30,000 total individual donations — including unitemized donations — his campaign says he received in the Silver State.

Sanders was technically the second highest fundraiser this quarter nationally, at $28 million, but only behind billionaire Tom Steyer who spent $47.6 million of his own money on his campaign this quarter for a total of $49.6 million raised. 

There are a lot fewer familiar names on Sanders’ list of Nevada donors, which includes a maintenance worker at Walmart, a bartender at Caesars Palace and a busser at the Cosmopolitan. (It also includes lawyers, nurses, dentists, and teachers, among others.)

His top donations this quarter came from Levi Blaney, an engineer at the tech company Flux7 ($2,000) and investment banker Pranav Merchant ($1,694). He also received nine $1,000 donations from some doctors, a medical social worker and an accountant. One notable donor — health care advocate and former congressional candidate Amy Vilela, who has endorsed Sanders, contributed $1,449.38

Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts senator raised far less in itemized contributions from Nevadans than either Biden or Sanders, bringing in a total of about $48,000 in the third quarter over nearly 650 individual donations. She was the third top Democratic fundraiser overall this quarter, raising $24.7 million.

Like Sanders, Warren has sworn off high-dollar fundraisers in exchange for spending more time on the selfie line after her rallies. As such, her list is also filled with many unfamiliar names and small dollar donations.

Her top contributions include $2,500 from Dr. Osama Haikal, a gastroenterologist, $1,500 from a retiree named Carson Miller, and $1,300 from Reno-based MS advocate Vivian Leal. Her top donors also include several UNLV professors, lawyers and consultants. Only five of her donations were sums of $1,000 or more.

Two interesting donors — Assemblywoman Connie Munk, who has not yet endorsed in the race but donated $525 to Warren’s campaign this quarter in small installments, and Clark County Democratic Party Chair Donna West donated $85.03. (Munk also donated $160 to Booker’s campaign.)

Pete Buttigieg

The South Bend Mayor brought in the fourth biggest haul in itemized donations from Nevadans this quarter at about $35,000 after refunds through a little more than 500 individual donations. He received nine $1,000 contributions, including from Cloobeck, a physician assistant, a lawyer and a broadband planner. He also received $500 from Patrick Duffy, president and CEO of Nevada School of the Arts.

He was the fourth top Democratic fundraiser overall, raising $19.2 million over the quarter.

Andrew Yang

This tech entrepreneur who has slowly inched up in the polls over the last few months raised the fifth most in itemized donations from Nevadans, totaling about $27,000 after refunds. Yang’s top contributors include several professional gamblers and poker players, consultants and a cocktail server at the Bellagio.

He raised $9.9 million overall this quarter.

Kamala Harris

The California senator came in just shy of Yang’s total itemized donations in Nevada by $13.70 after accounting for refunds, placing her at the sixth highest for itemized contributions in the state. Like Yang, she also raised just about $27,000, but came out ahead of the tech entrepreneur in total fundraising nationally this quarter at $11.8 million.

Her top donor was Cloobeck, but she received several $1,000 sums including from a nurse, a lawyer and an environmental biologist.

Marianne Williamson

The self-help author, who didn’t qualify for the October debate stage, actually managed to raise the seventh most in itemized donations from Nevadans in the third quarter at about $14,000 after refunds. Her top donor in Nevada was Aileen Getty, a philanthropist and the granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, who donated $2,500 tied to an address at a Reno office park associated with her foundation. Other contributors include two atmospheric scientists, an ecclesiastical assistant and a yoga instructor.

Others who made the debate stage

Several other Democratic hopefuls who raised enough money and scored high enough in the polls to qualify for the October debate stage raised far smaller sums. Klobuchar and Booker each brought in a little north of $10,000, while former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke raised just a little less than that sum.

Two notable Klobuchar donors — Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun and his wife, Myra Greenspun, who collectively donated $3,800. His sister-in-law, Robin Greenspun, donated $500 to Booker.

Dan Lee, CEO of Full House Resorts and husband of Rep. Susie Lee, donated $275 to O’Rourke.

Steyer raised a little less than $6,000 in the state, while Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard raised about $4,500 and Castro raised just a little less than $2,800 after refunds.

Bottom of the pack

Two candidates who didn’t qualify for the debate stage outraised Castro, who did. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet raised about $4,800 from just seven donors in the state, while Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan raised about $4,300 — with almost all of that coming from three employees affiliated with singer and songwriter Jewel and her company, Jewel Inc.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock raised about $2,700, while former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak raised about $1,500 and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney raised $290.