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.'