In 1978 and again in 1980, Dr. Billy Graham held city-wide evangelism meetings in Las Vegas. As Dr. Graham and his people were organizing the meetings and following up on the people who responded to the gospel message, they realized that the students at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas (UNLV) had no one to support them in their Christian walk and help them present the gospel on campus.
Dr. Alexander, president of InterVarsity at the time, and Jim Berney, the west coast regional director, visited UNLV after Dr. Graham’s second all-city campaign. They met with Randy Mattson, a student in the music department who knew of InterVarsity through his brother who was on staff in Minnesota. Dr. Alexander and Jim encouraged Randy to begin a small group prayer meeting in his department. From that beginning, a chapter was established in 1981. Hollis Kim was the first staff member, funded in part by a grant from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
On August 4-5, 2006 the chapter hosted a 25-year reunion weekend. Nearly ninety alumni of the chapter returned to share how God has been working in their lives since they graduated. At least eight of the graduates have gone on to InterVarsity staff work. Many others are also active members of a church.
Scott and Mariellen VanWinkle graduated in 2003. “The people in InterVarsity have made a huge difference in our lives, both individually and as a couple.”
Dana Piper says of her time with InterVarsity at UNLV, “I cannot tell you how much the group meant to me. I really miss the great fellowship.”
God’s grace is evident in the establishment of a witnessing community of the campus at UNLV and in the graduates who have continued to live for Christ. InterVarsity continues to rely on that grace as they take the gospel to new campuses and make disciples of students today.