LAS VEGAS, NV – Three UNLV professors were tragically killed earlier this month by Anthony Polito, a gunman who had previously applied for four positions at the university but was not interviewed for any of them, a UNLV spokesperson confirmed.
Polito, 67, was shot and killed by a university police officer about 10 minutes into the shooting on December 6. The victims were identified as Dr. Jerry Cha-Jan Chang and Dr. Patricia Navarro Velez from the Lee Business School, and Dr. Naoko Takemaru from the College of Liberal Arts. Another professor was injured in the incident.
In 2019, Polito had applied for assistant professorships at the schools of hospitality and public health and the UNLV Academic Success Center. He also applied for a lecturer position in the business school’s marketing department, but none of his applications advanced beyond the initial review process, and he was not interviewed for any of the positions, according to a university spokesperson.
Polito’s online presence portrayed him as a scholar, listing his MBA from Duke University and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. He was also confirmed to have taught courses at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Georgia.
Before the shooting at UNLV, Polito’s longest position was as an assistant professor in the College of Business at East Carolina University, where he began in 2001 and resigned in 2017 as a tenured associate professor. His most recent work was at Roseman University in Henderson, where he was an adjunct faculty member for the Master of Business Administration program.
On his LinkedIn page, Polito wrote about his love for teaching, expressing gratitude for the positive feedback from his students.
The incident sheds light on the challenges of recruiting and vetting faculty members in academic institutions. The tragic outcome raises questions about the procedures for hiring and evaluating potential candidates, underscoring the need for thorough and vigilant screening processes.
In the aftermath of this horrifying event, the university and other educational institutions must carefully reevaluate their hiring practices to prevent similar incidents in the future.
To move forward, authorities need to take a closer look at the screening process for prospective faculty members to ensure that potential red flags or warning signs are not overlooked, ultimately prioritizing the safety and security of all students and faculty members on campus.
The tragic loss of the three professors serves as a somber reminder of the importance of strict hiring practices and thorough background checks in academic institutions, both to safeguard the well-being of the community and to prevent potential future harm.