UNLV Turning Presidential Debate Into Teachable Moment For All


UNLV Photo Services

Workers install debate banners along walkways at UNLV.

Even for a city used to the limelight, the Oct. 19 presidential debate at UNLV is expected to bring unprecedented attention to Las Vegas.

The showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be covered live by six networks, bring thousands of media representatives to town, and attract a television audience measured in the tens of millions.

It also will be a teachable moment.

Along with trying to minimize disruption on campus, the university is leveraging the debate by incorporating it in classwork and in a series of lectures from national experts. UNLV also is working with the Clark County School District to engage students from kindergarten on up, including an essay contest for high schoolers.

University officials have invited the community to be involved in Nevada’s first-ever general election presidential debate and be understanding of any inconveniences.

“I would just ask that the entire state embrace this event," Vince Alberta the senior associate vice president for communication at UNLV, "This is an historic opportunity not just for UNLV, not for Las Vegas. It’s the first time in the history of Nevada that we will host a general election presidential debate.”

Alberta said the debate is a chance to showcase our community. 

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Carl Reiber is the senior vice provost at UNLV. He's helped develop ways to use the debate as a teaching tool. 

He said one of the biggest lessons the university wants the students to get from the lectures, workshops and events surrounding the debate is the appropriate civil discourse.

“What we would like on campus is to see students talking tough issues with each other and respecting each other’s opinions so that they can become educated and informed voters,” he said.

Reiber said the student and faculty are already excited about the debate. i

Gregg Cox has first hand experience with managing a presidential debate. He is the vice president of academic affairs for Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Lynn University hosted the third presidential debate in 2012 between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

He said they had a similar view of the debate as UNLV.

“Their attitude is much like our attitude and that was: yes this debate is good for the institution, it’s good for the country but it really has to be good for our students," Cox said.

He said when the university secured the debate they asked faculty from every discipline to find a way to incorporate it into their class and they did.

The schedule for debate-related events and the latest updates can be found at

Click here for more information from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors' Authority




Vince Alberta, senior associate vice president for communications, UNLV; Carl Reiber, senior vice provost, UNLV; Gregg Cox, vice president of academic affairs, Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

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