University of Arizona Dean Chosen as President of University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Nov. 18, 2014

University of Arizona Dean Chosen as President of University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Len Jessup, dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, has been selected as the 10th president of UNLV.

Len Jessup, dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, has been selected as the 10th president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents announced today following a special meeting.

“I am honored to accept the presidency of UNLV and am excited about the goals the regents have set for the university going forward,” Jessup said.

Jessup, an alumnus of the UA, joined the Eller College as dean in 2011 from Washington State University, where he served for a decade in leadership positions including dean of the business school and president of the university’s foundation. Before joining WSU, Jessup was a faculty member in management information systems at Indiana University.

During his time at the Eller College, Jessup led the development and implementation of an ambitious strategic plan aimed at improving the business school’s quality, impact, rankings, and reach.

"We are very proud of and excited for Dr. Jessup. This is a wonderful opportunity for an incredibly competent and innovative leader," said Andrew Comrie, UA senior vice president of academic affairs and provost. "We will, of course, miss his expert leadership of Eller that led to many important and impactful advances for the college and the university. We wish him well and look forward to witnessing the many expected successes he will achieve at University of Nevada, Las Vegas."

Jessup’s tenure marked growth and innovation for the Eller College. The college’s operating budget increased from $48.8 million to $60.6 million over the fiscal years 2011-2014, due to increased enrollment, student fees, philanthropy, and new initiatives such as Eller Executive Education. Over the period of 2010-2014, Eller undergraduate enrollment increased 12 percent and graduate enrollment increased 32 percent. Graduate enrollment growth is due in part to the launch of new Online MBA and Online Master’s in MIS programs.

In October, the Eller College announced $6 million in new commitments from the Eller and McClelland families of Phoenix and the Diamond family of Tucson. These gifts join 11 other commitments of $1 million-plus toward the $65 million Eller College goal for Arizona NOW: The Campaign for the University of Arizona. The college has raised $45 million of that goal to date.  

In 2013, Eller hired a team of career coaches and launched one-credit courses for first years and sophomore students designed to prepare them to understand how their skills fit into the context of business. The coaches help students develop career plans so that they are better positioned to secure internships, particularly in competitive industries. These activities and more, offered through the college’s Professional Development Center, were funded by a student-approved fee and support the 100% Engagement pillar of UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s “Never Settle” strategic plan.

Jessup also was instrumental in the creation of Tech Launch Arizona, a new UA entity focused on moving inventions and intellectual property from the lab to the marketplace. In addition to serving on the TLA board from the beginning, he recruited its leader, David Allen.

Jessup serves on the board of the UA Health Network, which is set to merge with Banner Health in January 2015, and as a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. At SALC, Jessup has been a champion of the MAP Dashboard Project, a collaboration involving the organization, Eller’s Economic and Business Research Center, and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. The goal of the project is to measurably improve southern Arizona through data-driven collective civic action and education. The MAP Dashboard Project is set to launch at year’s end.

During Jessup’s tenure, the Eller College also launched Eller Economic Development, a Chase-supported initiative that offers classes and workshops in English and Spanish to South Tucson small-business owners. The program also engages students with small-business clients to work on consulting projects such as accounting best-practice recommendations.

The college also has seen significant increases in rankings during Jessup’s leadership. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report surveys, Eller undergraduate programs moved up to No. 22 overall and No. 11 among public business schools. The Eller Evening MBA program shot up 21 spots to No. 25, and the Full-Time MBA program ranked No. 23 among public programs and No. 48 overall.

Jessup is active in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the industry’s accreditation body. In addition to serving on accreditation review panels for peer schools, Jessup is one of 17 leaders worldwide to serve on its Continuous Improvement Review Committee. He is a member of the advisory council for the AACSB industry magazine, BizEd, and has presented on the changing business model for higher education at multiple AACSB-hosted conferences.

“I am a passionate alum of the UA at the Eller College,” Jessup said. “My time here serving as dean has been among the most rewarding in my professional career, and so the prospect of moving on is bittersweet.”

His transition to the UNLV presidency will begin after the holidays. Over the coming weeks, Comrie will be meeting with Eller leadership and faculty on a transition plan.