PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Philosophers roll the dice on Vegas

LAS VEGAS: Vegas, Sin City, the land of showgirls and one-armed

bandits, made room last week for a new - and somewhat incongruous -

breed of conventioneer: philosophers.

A four-year campaign by the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV)

philosophy department resulted in the capital of dice and vice -

specifically the Tropicana Hotel and Casino - being chosen to host this

year's meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American


Subsequent media coverage of the event has earned those savvy

academicians a PR Play of the Week.

UNLV has long worked to boost its credibility in the academic


The drive to bring the convention to Las Vegas was spearheaded by

Professor Paul Schollmeier, who chairs the philosophy department.

Four years ago he jokingly suggested Vegas as a meeting location, then

pushed the idea to fruition. Intellectual curiosity about the city

proved to be one important selling point. 'The Society members are

pragmatists,' Schollmeier said. 'A lot of people think of Vegas as a

distillation of US cities. Things happen here that may set a trend for

the rest of the country.'

Schollmeier himself pitched the story to The New York Times, which ran a

long piece on the effort. The International Herald Tribune and some

local Vegas papers picked up the story. The BBC and Radio New Zealand

have also approached Schollmeier for interviews.

Many of the visiting philosophers used the opportunity to study Vegas'

unique culture. 'Most of them were hiking up and down the Strip,'

Schollmeier said. 'They didn't know what to do in a casino, so they

treated it like a natural outing.'

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