New UNLV Medical School Named After Las Vegas Casino Pioneer Kirk Kerkorian

Posted on: April 9, 2021, 01:43h. 

Last updated on: July 5, 2021, 01:09h.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas — more commonly known as UNLV — announced plans today regarding a new medical school facility that will be named after the late Las Vegas visionary Kirk Kerkorian.

UNLV Kirk Kerkorian MGM Resorts
Kirk Kerkorian, the founder of MGM Resorts, is pictured in 1998. The Las Vegas billionaire will be the namesake of UNLV’s new medical school. (Image: Wireimage)

The state university says construction will begin in October on the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. The 135,000-square-foot facility is being built on nine acres of land across the street from Valley Hospital Medical Center in the Las Vegas Medical District.

“There couldn’t possibly be a more fitting namesake for UNLV’s medical school than Kirk Kerkorian,” said MGM Resorts CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle. “Mr. Kerkorian was a visionary who not only helped transform Las Vegas into the world-class destination it is today, but dedicated his life, fortune, and legacy to improving lives in our community and beyond.”

Kerkorian is the founding father of what is today known as MGM Resorts. During his career, Kerkorian thrice built what was at the time the world’s largest hotel casino. He’s responsible for the International, which is today the Westgate Las Vegas, the original MGM Grand, which is now Bally’s, and the present MGM Grand. 

Once estimated to be worth more than $16 billion by Forbes, his fortune was valued at $4 billion at the time of his death. The drastic decline in his wealth was the result of the recent recession. 

Philanthropy Continues

Kerkorian died in 2015 at the age of 98, but his goodwill lives on. 

His lifelong charitable acts will be permanently recognized by way of the UNLV medical facility. The $150 million project is being funded by individual contributions and state tax dollars. 

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in 2019 that following his 2015 death, his estate privately donated $25 million to UNLV’s medical school. The disclosure was made by error by UNLV administrative assistants. 

Anthony Mandekic, the trustee of The Lincy Foundation, Kerkorian’s charitable arm of his estate, said in 2019 that the charitable contribution “should be honored. They’re giving a substantial amount of money.”

Not all of Kerkorian’s philanthropy has been given secretly. Last year, his estate gave $4 million to the MGM Resorts Employee Emergency Grant Fund that was used to support casino employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We know that he would have wanted them to know how much he cared for them and their families, and would do what he could to help those affected by the devastating impact of this pandemic,” representatives from his estate explained last year.

During his life, Kerkorian was passionate about bringing awareness to the Armenian genocide that took place between 1915 and 1923. He pledged $100 million to produce a movie with A-list stars documenting the horror. 

“The Promise” was released one year after his death. Directed by Oscar-nominated director Terry George, the drama starred Academy Award winner Christian Bale.

Dissolving MGM Stake

Kerkorian’s will mandated that Tracinda Corporation, his private investment trust that he named in honor of his two daughters Tracy and Linda, sell its position in MGM Resorts. Kerkorian’s will required “an orderly disposition of its position” in the casino giant. 

At the time of his death, Kerkorian owned 16 percent of MGM Resorts. Tracinda has since sold the entire position, completing its disposition in September of 2019.