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The Barrick Behind UNLV's Museum and Lecture Series

Marjorie Barrick’s involvement in UNLV and the community went far beyond her time in the classroom. Here's the story of one of our campus' pioneers.

UNLV History  |  Nov 7, 2017  |  By Paige Bockman
Museum exterior

(Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

Philanthropist Marjorie Barrick was born Oct. 9, 1917, in a small Iowa town. Marjorie Anne Jacobsen grew up the only child of the town mayor and the local high school principal. An accomplished pianist, she stunned her parents by turning down a music scholarship so she could study economics at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Following graduation, she taught high school business until she met and married her husband, Edward Barrick, in 1946.

Life in Las Vegas

The couple relocated to Las Vegas in 1951, where Ed was part owner of several casino properties, including the Flamingo. Marjorie immediately embraced her new home, dedicating herself to bettering the community and herself. She began taking classes at UNLV, then called Nevada Southern University. It consisted of only three buildings; the old gymnasium eventually became the museum that now bears her name.

“I love to be around young people, to listen to them in class and hear their views…You feel that you are in the mainstream of life, rather than sitting on the sidelines,” she told a reporter in 1980.

Her commitment to education led to her receiving an honorary doctorate in humane letters from UNLV in 1995. 

Community Impact

Barrick’s involvement in UNLV and the community went far beyond the classroom. Throughout their marriage, she and Ed helped fund the educations of 42 students, many of whom attended UNLV. She was a founding member of the UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees and sat on the boards of multiple community organizations, including the Nevada Ballet Theatre. She spent a few days a week volunteering at St. Rose de Lima Hospital in Henderson and founded a home for handicapped and neglected children. 

Following her husband’s death in 1979, Marjorie endowed the university with more than $1 million to fund the Barrick Lecture Series, a nationally recognized program that continues to bring top scholars from all disciplines, as well as presidents, politicians, and other experts to Las Vegas.

Known for playing an active role in all the projects in which she was involved, Marjorie personally picked many of the early speakers for the lecture series, including President Jimmy Carter, Carl Sagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev. She also founded the Barrick Graduate Fellowship, Barrick Faculty Development and Travel Fund, and the Barrick Research Scholars Fund, all of which help support university faculty and graduate students in their research and career development. In 1989, UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art was renamed in her honor.

Lasting Legacy

Marjorie passed away on April 29, 2007, but she left behind a legacy of education and community service that continues to benefit UNLV and Las Vegas. She said it best herself in the Las Vegas Sun in 1989: “Life is not really worth living if I can’t do something for someone else.”


Oct. 9, 1917 – Marjorie Anne Jacobsen born in Harlan, Iowa.

1933 – Marjorie wins an eight-state piano championship at 16, but turns down the scholarship attached to the competition.

1940 – Marjorie graduates from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

1946 – Marjorie and Edward Barrick are married.

1951 - Marjorie and Edward Barrick move to Las Vegas, where Marjorie begins attending classes at UNLV and volunteering in the community.

1979 – Edward Barrick passes away.

1980 – Marjorie endows UNLV with more than $1 million to found the Barrick Lecture Series in memory of her husband, Edward, along with the Barrick Graduate Fellowship, the Barrick Faculty Development and Travel Fund, and the Barrick Research Scholars Fund.

1982 – Marjorie receives the Distinguished Nevadan Award from the Board of Regents, and is recognized as a member of the UNLV Foundation Palladium Society.

1987 – Marjorie receives the Governor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

1988 – Marjorie receives the Nevada Dance Theatre’s “Woman of the Year” award.

1989 – UNLV’s museum is renamed in Marjorie’s honor, now the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art; and Marjorie is awarded the “Spirit of Hope” award from The City of Hope National Medical Center, where she had founded the Marjorie Barrick Research Fellowship.

1995 – Marjorie receives an honorary doctorate in humane letters from UNLV.

April 29, 2007 – Marjorie passes away at age 89.