By the time he arrived in Las Vegas in the mid-1970s, Lee School of Business Alumnus of the Year Kevin Orrock, ’76 MBA, had already done something rather improbable: He went from being born in the tiny Nevada mining town of Pioche to landing a job in the accounting department of an historic hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Then Orrock enrolled at UNLV’s business school, earned his MBA, and began a steady climb up the corporate ladder of one of Nevada’s most successful and respected companies.
Orrock’s journey to becoming president of Summerlin and the Las Vegas Region for its parent company, The Howard Hughes Corporation, began quite humbly. Early-life family moves took him from Pioche to Northern California to Pittsburgh to Springfield, Ohio, where he attended Wittenberg University. After earning his undergraduate degree, Kevin’s life came full circle when he returned to his home state and took an accounting job at the Desert Inn, which was then owned by Hughes’ Summa Corporation. Realizing the best way to further his finance career was to continue his education, Kevin enrolled in UNLV’s MBA program.
As the decades passed, he continued his rise within Summa/Howard Hughes, earning positions with ever-increasing responsibilities before ultimately assuming his current role as head of one of the fastest-growing master-planned communities not just in Southern Nevada but the entire country. Thanks in part to Kevin’s expertise and leadership in financial operations and land development, Summerlin has won numerous awards and established community standards that have been mimicked by developers all over the American West. One of his most ambitious (and successful) projects was overseeing the creation of Downtown Summerlin, the master-planned community’s urban core. That includes launching the retail and dining area that debuted in October 2014, as well as Las Vegas Ballpark and the 267-unit luxury residence Tanager, both of which opened this year.
Throughout a career that has spanned more than four decades, Orrock has remained connected to UNLV in many ways. He has been a member of the Lee Business School’s Executive Advisory Board since 2004, the UNLV Foundation’s Advisory Board since 2011, and the Benefactor Society since 2017. He also participates in the UNLV Foundation’s Annual Fund Suite Deal, donating a private box for a UNLV basketball game, and he gives to his alma mater through The Howard Hughes Corporation’s corporate philanthropy initiatives.
Beyond UNLV, Orrock’s extensive community involvement includes serving on various boards throughout his career, including the Sunrise Children’s Foundation, Nevada Taxpayers Association, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, for which he served as chairman in 2012.
And when it comes time to escape the rigors of work life, Orrock indulges in his two hobbies: playing golf and exploring America aboard his motorcycle.
How did your experience pursuing your master’s degree at UNLV help shape the person and professional you are today?
Like many students who choose to continue their education after finishing undergrad, I was forced to juggle a full-time job with my MBA studies. So after putting in my eight hours at the Desert Inn during the day, I would head to UNLV and take classes at night. That left very little free time and forced me to focus and prioritize my daily activities. It certainly was a challenging time in my life, but looking back, I’m glad I went through it. Not only did I prove to myself that I could accomplish any task if I was fully committed and worked hard, but that experience established the foundation for the strong work principles that I still abide by to this day.