More than 1,300 students have lived in the Wolf Pack Tower (Circus Circus’ west tower) for about a month now after Argenta and Nye halls were damaged by an explosion over the summer break. Before the new tower opened, the University of Nevada, Reno partnered with the Downtown Reno Partnership and their contractor, Streetplus, to hire extra ambassadors specifically for students.

The Partnership’s 20 ambassadors in blue make downtown Reno safer, cleaner and friendlier. They use their social influence to set expectations for good behavior and positive stewardship in Reno’s core. They also work with Reno Police and City of Reno Code Enforcement to quickly react to safety or cleanliness issues.

In their first nine months, ambassadors collected 111 bags of trash, gave 967 safety walks and engaged with or gave directions to 34,358 people.

“I appreciate the efforts of the recently established Ambassadors to the downtown Reno corridor,” Reno Police Chief Jason Soto told us at the end of 2018. “Their presence has had an immediate, effective impact to our city and its residents and business owners. The Reno Police Department will continue to partner with the ambassadors who provide resources, information and assistance to both our tourists and citizens on a daily basis.”

The nonprofit Downtown Reno Partnership helps fund additional police services in downtown as part of an agreement with the City of Reno.

The ambassadors also coordinate with social service programs for people in need and now students can take advantage of the ambassadors’ mission to create a better environment.

“We’re happy to provide this additional service for university students who’ve recently moved into their new downtown residence hall,” said Downtown Reno Partnership Executive Director Alex Stettinski. “Our ambassadors and the downtown community are welcoming them and are ready to make them feel at home.”

Photos by M.D. Welch,

The new Wolf Pack ambassadors will work extended hours separate from the rest of our ambassadors who normally work 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Throughout the week, Wolf Pack ambassadors will be available to escort students as late as 3 a.m. and as early as 6:30 a.m. They travel on foot, bike or Segway between Wolf Pack Tower and the Manzanita Bowl on Virginia Street.

Students can call the Ambassador Hotline at 775-313-4080 if they’d like an escort to or from Wolf Pack Tower or need information or recommendations about the downtown area.

“We greatly appreciate this effort facilitated by the Downtown Reno Partnership,” Todd Renwick, University chief of police, said. “Safety is a shared responsibility and through this collaboration University students will have an additional resource when traveling to and from campus.”

University Police also set up a substation in Wolf Pack Tower to provide 24-hour coverage of the temporary dorm.

“I kind of felt more reassured knowing she is going to be in a situation that is new and all eyes will be on it,” Sherri Smith, a student’s parent, told the Reno Gazette Journal in a video interview. “It’s kind of a blessing in disguise.”

By the end of 2020, Canyon Flats private student housing on Sixth and Virginia streets will add another 500 students to downtown. The ambassadors and Partnership are ready for almost 2,000 students to call downtown home.

In the meantime, the Downtown Reno Partnership is looking for opportunities to improve the experience crossing the Virginia Street bridge over Interstate 80. The Partnership is also planning to launch a comprehensive survey to gauge students’ needs with hope that new data can be used to attract appropriate retail offerings and services.

Starting in spring 2020, the Regional Transportation Commission will begin work on Virginia Street north of Interstate 80 to Lawlor Events Center. Part of that project includes building a multi-modal transit station across from Roberto’s Taco Shop where students can transfer from University shuttles to buses that will take them to Midtown or Meadowood Mall. The rest of the project will add bike lanes to Virginia Street and a large roundabout at 15th Street.