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UNLV’s medical education building to honor Las Vegas gaming pioneer

Updated April 8, 2021 - 12:23 pm

UNLV School of Medicine and its first permanent facility will be named after the late Kirk Kerkorian, a Las Vegas gaming pioneer known as the father of the Las Vegas megaresort.

The naming of The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV was announced Thursday by the Nevada Health & Bioscience Corp. — which is overseeing and raising money for the medical education building project — at a news conference at the construction site.

The medical education building is under construction on Shadow Lane in central Las Vegas and is expected to open next year. Groundbreaking for the approximately 135,000 square foot facility occurred in October 2020.

Kerkorian died in 2015 and hundreds of millions of dollars have already been given to charitable organizations “in accordance with his private wishes,” according to a news release from the bioscience corporation.

The vast majority of the money has been given anonymously, according to the release, “but this unique naming opportunity had special significance.”

The medical school will be the one place where Kerkorian’s name will be used, said Lindy Schumacher, a board member for the bioscience corporation. “His anonymous generosity is everywhere, but his name is nowhere.”

The medical school and new facility’s name is pending since it hasn’t yet received final approval from the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents.

Most of the medical education building project is being funded by more than $150 million in private donations, including from Kerkorian’s estate, according to the news release.

In summer 2020, $25 million in state funding for the medical education building project was cut as part of COVID-19-spurred budget impacts. But in January, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced in his State of the State address that it would be restored.

The UNLV medical school welcomed its first class of students in 2017 and they’re slated to graduate in May.

The school currently has about 240 medical students — 60 per class — and more than 300 residents and fellows. The new medical education building will accommodate up to 120 students per class.

Kerkorian — who formed the company Tracinda Corp. — was deeply involved in Southern Nevada for nearly six decades and created “tens of thousands of jobs,” according to the news release.

His involvement included a stake in the Dunes Hotel in 1955, opening MGM Grand in 1973 and as a primary shareholder of MGM Resorts International until 2011.

Before his death, his charitable foundation, The Lincy Foundation, provided donations for more than two decades.

MGM Resorts CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle said in a Thursday statement that there’s no more fitting namesake for the medical school than Kerkorian, who he described as a visionary who helped transform Las Vegas into a world-class destination.

Kerkorian “dedicated his life, fortune and legacy to improving lives in our community and beyond,” Hornbuckle said. “There has been no greater champion for the advancement of medicine in Southern Nevada than Mr. Kerkorian, and MGM Resorts is honored to see our founder and his legacy continue to make a positive difference for our community in such profound and meaningful ways.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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