Meet a Trustee: Victoria Fertitta

UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees Member Victoria Fertitta

Apr. 24, 2018

 

“I’ve lead such a normal life,” Victoria Fertitta reflects – and yet, somehow you know that this gracious, soft-spoken woman is anything but ordinary.

Fertitta humbly wears the mantle of matriarch of one of the most influential founding families in Las Vegas.

Fertitta grew up in Galveston, Texas; raised with two sisters by a single mom who saw to it that her daughter studied dance, jazz, and tap. She met Frank Fertitta, Jr., while in high school. They married and moved from Galveston to Las Vegas in 1960.

Frank got a job as a bellman at the Tropicana, before becoming a dealer at the Stardust. He invested in his first casino in the mid-1970s. That investment eventually lead to the Station Casinos empire.

“It is a very American story,” Fertitta says.

It is also a story that has long intersected with the history of UNLV.  “We decided to support UNLV back in the 1970s,” she recalls. “We were told that if UNLV had a great tennis team, they would attract great students. That’s what the university wanted, and we wanted to help.”

Driven by a $1 million gift in the 1980s, the Frank and Vicki Fertitta Tennis Complex is just one manifestation of their ongoing investment in Rebel Athletics and UNLV.

“We’ve always supported the basketball team – everyone did back then. But athletics still draws people to the university: fans, families, and students,” she says.

She is proud of her own family, all raised as Rebel fans, and is grateful that all of her grandchildren have set down roots in Las Vegas. Her husband, Frank Jr., passed away in 2009. Her sons, Frank III and Lorenzo, have recently been spearheading efforts to build the new Fertitta Football Complex on campus.

Her own support bridges sports, academics, and the arts. Her enduring love of dance inspired her to help send 10 UNLV Dance students to the 28th Annual International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference in Denver, Colorado.

“I studied dance from age four to 18, and even helped teach dance. It meant so much to me as a child, and still does to this day. I’m happy to give current students a chance to be inspired, challenged, and successful at something they love.”