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I-Team: Major donor pulls $14M donation for UNLV medical school

LAS VEGAS - On the heels of reports that there may be an effort to push UNLV President, Dr. Len Jessup out of office, a big donor is pulling a large donation from the school.  The I-Team has learned that the Engelstad Foundation is pulling a $14 million donation.

Kris Engelstad told the I-Team the foundation the donation was for UNLV's medical school building on the condition that President Jessup was in charge.  Engelstad said she believed the Board of Regents could not be trusted to handle the money properly.  

On Wednesday, the Engelstad Foundation sent a letter to UNLV stating that the $14 million donation would no longer happen.  Other donations from the foundation, for example, like scholarship dollars, would not be affected.

On Wednesday morning, President Jessup sent the following letter to the campus community:

"Recent media reports about my pending departure are misleading. It’s no secret that a few Regents and I have not always agreed on the direction of UNLV under my leadership. Over the last several weeks, I had conveyed to Chancellor Thom Reilly that the governance structure makes long-term sustainability for any president challenging. I continue to be passionate about UNLV and all our initiatives but expressed to him my intent to begin looking at other opportunities. I am grateful for all the tremendous support on campus and in the community, and I am proud to be president of UNLV.  Thank you for all your hard work and for staying focused on our core responsibilities to move the university forward."

Jessup recently has faced criticism for a recent health scare at UNLV's dental school, along with the cost of UNLV's medical school.  Critics say he underestimated the cost, while supporters say the larger number was just one of the options in part of a cost range in the first place.

Sources told 8 News NOW that the Higher Ed Chancellor Thom Reilly had given Jessup an ultimatum to quit in a week or be fired.

Reilly refused to comment to the I-team.

Regent J.T. Moran the third did provide a comment to the I-Team, stating, "I am disappointed in the process.  I'd like to see a real discussion in a public forum concerning Len's job performance, rather than learn about a backroom decision.  I support Len Jessup 100 percent, and so do many members of the community, including major donors."

The I-Team reached out to the remaining Regents.  Some said no comment, while others did not respond at all.


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