Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Transcript of interview with William R. Wells by David Emerson, May 22, 2006






Dr. William R. Wells was the first dean of engineering at UNLV. He was born in Winder, Georgia, and graduated from high school there. He attended Georgia Tech and then took a job with NASA in Virginia, where he also received a master's degree from Virginia Tech. He then went to Harvard for an MA degree, and ended up at Virginia Tech, earning a PhD in aerospace engineering. Dr. Wells had an impressive twenty-year work history in Ohio and Illinois before coming to UNLV in 1986. He came in on the ground floor of the newly endowed college of engineering and saw the college through several rounds of accreditation with ABET. He remembers the small student body and how easy it was for faculty members to interact with them. He also recalls that several local and state entities contributed money to the engineering program or hired graduates. As dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Wells was involved in 'growing' the various departments. He has seen most of them develop masters and PhD programs, and remembers recruiting for new teaching positions. He also recalls moving into the new building in 1988. Accreditation was of major importance in the development of a significant and nationally recognized engineering college at UNLV, and Dr. Wells has his opinions as to its impact on creativity. He does believe that it is a necessary part of developing excellence and accountability to the community, the students and faculty, and the state. Dr. Wells talks about recruiting, faculty turnover, and salaries. He gives his opinions on using UNLV engineers for stage and set designs on the Strip, hiring graduates at local utilities, and helping students with deficient math or science skills. He also talks about attracting minority groups to engineering, diversity among the faculty, and the importance of keeping talent in the United States.

Digital ID



William Wells oral history interview, 2006 May 22. OH-01945. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at

Standardized Rights Statement





An Interview with William R. Wells An Oral History Conducted by David Emerson k The UNLV @ Fifty Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas 2007 ©UNLV@ FIFTY Oral History Project