Las Vegas medical school to be named for Kirk Kerkorian

The UNLV School of Medicine will bear the name of prominent Armenian-American businessman and philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian, the first time the late Las Vegas icon’s name will be used on a building anywhere, Las Vegas Sun reports.

The naming, which requires approval by the Board of Regents, was announced at the construction site of the medical school building. It will be known as the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV.

Kerkorian’s name will not be used on any other buildings, said Lindy Schumacher, a board member of the nonprofit Nevada Health and Bioscience Corp., which is overseeing the construction project.

Kerkorian, who died in 2015, had refused numerous offers throughout his life to have buildings named after him.

“His anonymous generosity is everywhere, but his name is nowhere,” Schumacher said. “You can have his money. You cannot have his name — until now.”

In a statement, the Nevada Health and Bioscience Corp. said 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.

The building, expected to cost about $150 million, is being funded through a combination of charitable donations and state dollars. Gov. Steve Sisolak this year reinstated $25 million earmarked for the project that was cut last year because of the economic crunch caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kerkorian’s influence on Las Vegas is massive, and he carried the unofficial title of the “father of the Las Vegas megaresort.”

He built three major hotels in Las Vegas: The International, now the Westgate; the MGM, now Bally’s; and the MGM Grand.

He was also a prominent philanthropist and made large donations throughout his life, including $1 billion to to help rebuilding efforts after a 1988 earthquake.

Schumacher, whose father, Anthony Mandekic, was a friend and business partner of Kerkorian, said Kerkorian’s philanthropy is evident around Las Vegas.

Mandekic, who is the executor of Kerkorian’s estate, said she once asked Kerkorian why he worked so hard. “He said, ‘Lindy, your dad and I are great at making money, and the more money we make, the more money we get to give away.’”

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