The University of Nevada, Las Vegas announced plans to name the new building for the UNLV School of Medicine for late gaming industry icon Kirk Kerkorian.
Kerkorian, who died in 2015, was instrumental in the development of the modern Las Vegas Strip. He built and opened the International—later the Las Vegas Hilton, now the Westgate—in 1969, the original MGM Grand (now Bally’s) in 1973, and the current MGM Grand in 1993. The billionaire was also a prominent philanthropist, donating money to causes across the Las Vegas Valley and elsewhere.
“His anonymous generosity is everywhere, but his name is nowhere,” commented Lindy Schumaher, a board member of the nonprofit Nevada Health and Bioscience Corp., which is overseeing the construction of the building, in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. Noting that Kerkorian refused several offers to name buildings after him during his life, she said, “You can have his money; you cannot have his name—until now.”
In a statement, the nonprofit agency indicated that the Kerkorian estate’s donations toward the School of Medicine building, as well as Kerkorian’s prominence in the community and philanthropic history, made him a “clear choice for the naming.”
Construction on the 135,000-square-foot building started in October and is expected to be finished next year, at cost of $150 million, funded through a combination of charitable donations and $25 million from the state, recently restored by Governor Steve Sisolak after being cut last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The official naming of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV is subject to approval by the university’s Board of Regents.