Robert and Barbara Frick commit $5 million to new facilities for Washington University’s Olin Business School

Robert (BS ’60, MBA ’62) and Barbara Frick have made a $5 million commitment to support Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School’s new building expansion, a $90 million project for two connected buildings — Knight and Bauer halls — that will add 177,000 square feet and span five levels. The buildings are to be dedicated May 2.

In recognition of the gift, the multilevel, multifunctional meeting space that connects the buildings will be named the Robert and Barbara Frick Forum.

“This extraordinary act of generosity from Bob and Barbara Frick brings us closer to meeting the funding needs for the new business school buildings and advances one of the highest priorities for Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, to provide facilities that promote some of the best research and scholarship in the world,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said.

“Bob and Barbara’s dedication, loyalty, hard work and philanthropic support for Washington University are second to none. It’s difficult to fully express my deep and abiding gratitude for their lasting contributions to our research, teaching, and service missions,” Wrighton said.

Mahendra R. Gupta, PhD, dean of Olin Business School and the Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management, said:

“The Robert and Barbara Frick Forum and the new buildings will transform the school and provide much-needed space to expand business engagement with professors and students in the classroom, in research and consulting projects, and in current and future research centers.”

“The Frick Forum’s attractive amphitheater style and functional versatility will accommodate everything from small gatherings to large lectures, the type of spaces where people gather to connect and exchange ideas.
Its central location will be a busy and popular spot for our students and faculty,” Gupta added.

Accompanying the gift are two challenges that further enhance the impact of the Fricks’ commitment. The $4 million Bob and Barbara Frick Olin Facilities Challenge seeks to maximize support for the Olin Business School’s new Knight and Bauer buildings by matching dollar-for-dollar gifts between $10,000 and $1.5 million. Another $1 million will be used for the Frick San Francisco Challenge to increase annual fund gifts from alumni, parents, and friends in their home community, the San Francisco Bay area, and to encourage younger alumni to make major commitments.

The Fricks’ most recent commitment is preceded by a number of important gifts, including the establishment of the Robert and Barbara Frick Professorship in Business, held by Todd R. Zenger, PhD, a specialist in organization and strategy; and named annual scholarships for Olin students. In addition, the Fricks are life patrons of the university’s William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

Bob Frick credits his many personal and professional successes in life in part to great teachers and mentors at his alma mater. The St. Louis native received a full scholarship and graduated in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Another full-tuition scholarship allowed him to earn his master’s in business administration two years later. While at WUSTL, he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

His career began at Bank of America (BOA) in 1963, developing new business opportunities for the bank at the dawn of Northern California’s technology boom. He quickly rose through the leadership ranks, becoming the company’s youngest vice president.

Several years later, he left BOA to pursue a new challenge as vice president of finance and as a director of Measurex Corp., but he realized his heart was in banking. He rejoined BOA in 1976 as managing director of its international merchant-banking subsidiary. In 1984, Frick was named vice chairman of the board of directors of BankAmerica Corp., heading its World Banking Division. Four years later, he took early retirement to pursue new interests.

Together, Bob and Barbara Frick launched a foray into real estate development with a strong community support component. As partners in K.E.S. Management Co., they created quality apartment communities for low- to moderate-income residents in ethnically diverse neighborhoods. They also provided extensive services for the residents, including Head Start, tutoring and job-preparation programs. Barbara Frick, a former teacher at the high school and college levels, was responsible for the rehabilitation and management of more than 1,000 rental units.

This work was recognized by the city and county of Sacramento by awarding K.E.S. the 1989 Human Rights Fair Housing Outstanding Contribution in the area of fair housing, and the Sacramento Human Rights Commission Community Service Planning Award in 1995. In 1996, they were awarded the Child Abuse Prevention Council’s Founders Award.

These days, Bob Frick devotes his time to working with young Silicon Valley companies and serving on the boards of several corporations.

The Fricks also raise funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity. Bob Frick is so committed to this organization that he has taken on the Cycle of Hope bicycle challenge twice. His first Cycle of Hope ride, in 2008, followed a path from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla., netting the nonprofit $90,000. In 2012, he and a friend traced Lewis and Clark’s 3,000-mile trail from Astoria, Ore. to St. Louis to raise funds for the East Bay/Silicon Valley area. Together, their Lewis and Clark bicycle ride generated an additional $175,000, which helped support the construction of two Habitat homes. Barbara Frick aided them in their journey, driving their support car.

Over the years, Bob Frick has served the university in numerous leadership capacities. He is a member of the Board of Trustees, Olin School’s National Council, and the San Francisco Regional Cabinet. In addition, he serves as membership chair of the Eliot Society Executive Committee.

An active alumnus, he has played a valuable role in the Scholarship Initiative, and he now also serves as a member of the Olin campaign committee and co-chairs the San Francisco Regional Campaign Committee for Leading Together.

For his university service, Bob Frick received the Olin Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988 and the Founders Day Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011.