In a three-page letter distributed to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas community, on Tuesday, April 3, UNLV President Len Jessup announced that he will be accepting the position as president at Claremont Graduate University in California.
This announcement comes after a series of reports from the media claiming that Jessup was being pushed out of his position at UNLV early last month. Jessup deemed these reports as “misleading,” but announced he had plans to leave the position in the near future. Due to his departure from the university, a $14 million donation was rescinded.
The donation was originally granted by the Engelstad Family Foundation to UNLV’s medical education building. A trustee of the foundation, Kris Engelstad McGarry, said the donation was in compromise with the conditions that Jessup and Barbara Atkinson, the founding dean of the medical school, would keep their positions at the university.
“Part of our proposed commitment to them was predicated on the fact that leadership did not change,” trustee of the foundation, Engelstad McGarry said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.” We are completely dedicated to the scholarships we have in place for the undergraduate and medical school students, but we don’t trust the stewardship of the board of regents to handle our money, sadly.”
The donation and conditions of its terms brought Jessup’s ethics into questions as described by a lawyer from the Nevada System of Higher Education
“The MOU, as detailed above, specifically confers a significant financial benefit on Dr. Jessup by conditioning the gift on his continued employment with UNLV through December 31, 2022,” the memo obtained by the Nevada Independent reads. “Dr. Jessup’s execution of the MOU, in view of his patent conflict of interest, is made even more egregious given its timing.”
In Jessup’s resignation letter, the university president details the difficult relationship between the university and board of regents.
“Events over the last several months have clearly signaled that the Regents and the Chancellor have decided upon a vision and implemented a management structure for UNLV that is inconsistent with what I believe is in the best interests of UNLV,” the resignation letter reads. “I have expressed my disagreement consistently, and have, unfortunately, been met by personal and professional attacks by the Chancellor and some Regents, unfounded and unjustified opinions, and media ‘leaks’ that appear to be calculated to damage not only me, but UNLV and the UNLV Foundation….,”
Jessup further detailed the ultimatum he was given by Chancellor Thom Reilly and Regent Chair Kevin Page on March 16th. Jessup claims that he was given the choice to either resign or be fired.
“ […] there are several significant factual inaccuracies in President Jessup’s statement that do not accurately reflect the events that occurred over the past few months,” Page said in an interview with Channel 3 News in Las Vegas.
Jessup says that he will stay at UNLV until commencement ceremonies in May before beginning his new position on July 1.
Karolina Rivas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.