The strength of the wolf lies in its pack and under banners of blue, silver, and Nevada pride. If you’ve noticed an uptick in Wolf Pack representation around the community — banners, flags, and apparel — it can likely be attributed to the University of Nevada, Reno’s community and business collaboration initiative.

When former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval transitioned into his current role as University President in 2020, he brought with him an ambitious vision: take UNR’s academics and athletics to the next level with increased efforts around accessibility, equity, inclusivity, opportunity, and research. Dickson Realty is a proud supporter of the Wolf Pack and UNR’s outreach efforts to make Reno “Nevada’s College Town.”

Discover more below about Sandoval’s vision, what initiatives have been started, what’s to come in the new year (or two), what it means to be a university town, and how you can get involved, too.

Wolf Pack Rising: A University Town’s Audacious Goals

When Sandoval took on the role of President, not only did he bring with him a lengthy political background — twice elected Nevada Governor, former judge, Nevada Attorney General, assembly member, and chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission — but he was also a UNR alumnus. Becoming UNR’s President was “something his 18-year-old self would’ve never believed,” he said during a 2022 interview on Washoe Life’s podcast with Nancy Leuenhagen, Washoe County Communication Director and Bethany Drysdale, Washoe County Media and Communications Manager.

Coming into the role, he created what he calls audacious and inspiring goals for the future, which have become the foundation for the 2023–27 Wolf Pack Rising Strategic Plan and push for Reno to become a university town. In the interview, Sandoval discusses his vision for the community and university: The Wolf Pack Way and creating a “Univer-City.” He said members of the community told him they felt the university was like a castle with a moat around it — it just wasn’t accessible.

He also shared his 2022 vision for the University and the community, with several initiatives for outreach and collaboration including:

  • Hosting Artown events on the campus
  • Launching the Mathewson Gateway Project: A joint project between UNR and the City of Reno featuring an iconic College of Business building, a planned hotel and conference space, and additional mixed-use spaces spanning from the University to downtown Reno
  • Becoming a Member of the American Association of Universities (AAOU) — one of the top 65% most prestigious research universities in the country
  • Increasing enrollment to 23,000 students by 2025
  • Expanding Collegiate Academies in Nevada public high schools
  • Achieving federal classification as a Hispanic Serving Institute

He says promoting the Wolf Pack Way for students is also a top priority. These student-centric values aim to showcase via prominent alumni images and stories on banners across the campus what it means to be a Wolf Pack student and community member.

“Students should be inspired by our alumni and see what is possible. It provides them with a sense of integrity, responsibility, and obligation to help others on campus, in the community and as a servant leader and alumni,” Sandoval said on the Washoe Life’s podcast.

Photo Courtesy of University Nevada, Reno Mathewson Gateway Project

2023 State of the University Address Highlights

In Sandoval’s 2023 48-minute State of the University speech, he overviewed some of the University’s gains in 2023, especially as it relates to enrollments. He also shared the University is nearing some of its first goals in its Wolf Pack Rising Strategic Plan. Here are some of the highlights from the address:

  • Enrollment is up 4% from 20,945 in 2022, to 21,778 as of fall 2023
  • Largest Hispanic/Latinx class in school history of approximately 24% of all students (when at a 25% threshold, UNR can apply to become a Hispanic Serving Institution)
  • Total number of students identifying as students of color is up 7.1% from fall 2022
  • 154 Native American students have enrolled, up 93 students from 2022
  • 28 Collegiate Academies in high schools in Clark and Washoe County School Districts:
    • 17 public and two charter schools in Clark County and six high schools in Washoe County.
    • 11 of the schools are Title 1 high schools
  • University Mathewson Gateway Business building opened in October 2023
Photo Courtesy of University Nevada, Reno Nevada Today

Wolf Pack Fridays

Nevada pride heated up in August 2023 with the launch of Wolf Pack Fridays — a visual way to support the University and its athletics throughout the community. Local businesses throughout Reno, Sparks, and Carson City now offer discounts and deals on Friday when you sport your silver, blue, and Wolf Pack gear.

To date, there are a couple dozen businesses offering discounts on goods and services, such as Reno Public Market, Brewers Cabinet, NAI Alliance and Brooks Family Dental, with discounts ranging from 10%–15% off. Partner businesses and fans can purchase packages, which include items such as a Wolf Pack flag kit, signage and website listing for $50–$110 annually. Partnership funds benefit the Pack Excellence Fund, which supports more than 400 student-athletes.

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve also proclaimed Fridays in Reno as “Wolf Pack Fridays.” This was in part to help brand Reno as a university town and encourages community members to join the pack in supporting University sports and local businesses.

Photo Courtesy of

Grand Sierra Resort and UNR: Basketball and Special Events Center Expansion Plan

If you’re a UNR basketball fan, an upgrade to your seats may be coming in the 2026‑’27 season. The Grand Sierra Resort announced in September 2023 a $1 billion private capital investment expansion project spanning the next 10 years. It includes a 10,000-seat state-of-the-art arena, which can host concerts, special events, and sporting events. Additionally, a golf facility, an 800-room tower hotel, and 300 affordable riverfront residential units are also being planned.

GSR owner Alex Meruelo and UNR’s President Brian Sandoval also announced they’re exploring a partnership to home the UNR men’s basketball team at the new arena. According to the GSR’s press release, Sandoval said, “The University of Nevada, Reno is excited to explore the opportunity to partner with Meruelo and the GSR as they develop a state-of-the-art arena and entertainment district that is unprecedented in Northern Nevada. The new area will include amenities that create a fan and game experience that are second to none.”

Go, Pack!

Ready to Support the Wolf Pack’s Initiative to Become a University Town?

Becoming a Wolf Pack Fridays partner starts by signing up for an annual participation package, starting at $50. Participation as a partner runs through July 31, 2024. Fans can also purchase a household package for $25, which includes a Nevada flag and pole kit that can be displayed on Fridays.

Additional ways to support the push to become a university town include attending sports and other events at UNR, wearing UNR gear on Fridays, and listening to Sandoval’s podcast, “The Sagebrushers,” on all audio streaming platforms.