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Sandoval Says Lang Belongs On Nevada Economic Mount Rushmore

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Courtesy UNLV
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Robert Lang saw healthcare, mass transit, and professional sports as strengthening Las Vegas' economic foundation. He died last week at 62

Colleagues remembered UNLV Professor Robert Lang for his first-rate intellect and fierce advocacy for Southern Nevada and his university.

Lang, an influential and outspoken UNLV academic, died last week. He was 62.

“Dr. Lang believed in the incredible potential of UNLV and Southern Nevada, a belief that has become a reality for many of the ideas he championed over the past 11 years,” said UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield. “His positive impact on our university and in our community will be felt for years to come, and he will be sorely missed.”

In 2011, when the state was still mired in the Great Recession, Lang and the Brookings Mountain West think tank he headed produced an  influential public policy blueprint. It encouraged more diversified offerings on the Strip and more investment in healthcare.

Lang carried those themes forward with public advocacy and behind-the-scenes advice in the development of  Allegiant Stadium and the Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV.

“He really is, in terms of economic development, going to be on the Mount Rushmore of Nevada for diversifying our state,” said UNR President ad former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was governor during the recession.

Lang galvanized Southern Nevada leaders by providing them the “data they needed to make the right call,” said Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun.

“He painted a vision. He showed us the way, and enough leaders in this community had the strength of purpose, the will to say, ‘Yes, let’s do it, and let’s ignore the naysayers,’” said Greenspun, who helped recruit Lang to Las Vegas.

Another of Lang's strengths was his ability to navigate in the academic, political, and business worlds.

"Rob was an important bridge between academia and the business community," the Vegas Chamber said in a statement, "he understood how both sectors needed to work together to advance the community.

Brian Sandoval, UNR president, former governor; Brian Greenspun, publisher, Las Vegas Sun

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.