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The Back Story: Pioneer Wall

After UNLV's first building had long outlived its usefulness, it was torn down. But its historical significance was preserved as a memorial to the university's most influential supporters.

UNLV History  |  Sep 27, 2013  |  By UNLV News Center
Pioneer Wall

Pioneer Wall is located on the site of UNLV's first building. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Pioneer Wall carries more than its share of meaning when it comes to UNLV history. Unveiled in 2009, the site preserves a piece of UNLV's first building -- Maude Frazier Hall.

For more than five decades the one-story building was the first you would see when entering campus on Harmon Avenue from Maryland Parkway. In 2007, prior to closing the building, the Las Vegas chapter of the Atomic Age Alliance held an unsuccessful rally in Pida Plaza in an attempt to save the building. But the little building was extremely expensive to maintain.

When the building was demolished, a section of a wall that held its cornerstone plaque was preserved. It is now surrounded by sandstone. A niche holds a bronze bust of Maude Frazier herself. She was the one-time superintendent of the Las Vegas Union School District, helped pass a bond to build Las Vegas High School, and served in the legislature for 12 years, often pioneering legislation to advance higher education in the state.

Two bronze plaques on the wall also pay tribute to educational pioneers, Donald Moyer, the school's first president, and James Dickinson, the first faculty member on campus. Local artist, Miguel Rodriguez, '04 MFA, created the bust and two plaques.

In 2011, a bronze relief of late Kenny Guinn, was added to Pioneer Wall. As governor of Nevada, Guinn helped establish the Millennium Scholarship fund in 2000. In its first decade, the fund helped more than 7,000 UNLV students earn their degrees.

In September 2013, a bronze plaque of Leonard E. "Pat" Goodall, who served from 1979 to 1984 as the university's fourth president, was added to the wall. His presidency saw the creation of new graduate programs in geoscience, hotel administration, and accounting; the establishment of the office of international programs, the UNLV Foundation, and the Barrick Lecture Series; the construction of Frank and Estella Beam Hall and the Alta Ham Fine Arts Building; and the installation of The Flashlight sculpture outside the Performing Arts Center.

Pioneer Wall can be found between the Richard Tam Alumni Center and Flora Dungan Humanities building.

Maude Frazier was instrumental in establishing Nevada Southern University, now known as UNLV. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Pioneer Wall was unveiled in 2009 on the site of the former Maude Frazier Hall. On Sept. 10, 1957, the first classes were held on campus in the 13,000-square-foot building, which was later named for Maude Frazier, a state assemblywoman and founding force behind our university. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Donald Moyer was the first president of Nevada Southern University, the precursor of UNLV. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

James Dickinson was the first faculty member of what is now known as UNLV. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn served as interim UNLV president and established the Guinn Millennium Scholarship Program, which has helped thousands of Nevada high school students go to college. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

In September 2013, a bronze plaque of Leonard E. "Pat" Goodall, who served from 1979 to 1984 as the university's fourth president, was added to the wall. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

The Pioneer Wall is located on the eastern edge of campus near Maryland Parkway and Harmon Avenue. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)