Fricks enhance commitment to Olin Business School facilities

The popular second-floor commons area in Knight Hall will be named Robert and Barbara Frick Commons in recognition of their generosity. 

Washington University Emeritus Trustee Robert Frick, BS ’60, MBA ’62, and his wife, Barbara, recently made a $2 million commitment to support Olin Business School. The popular second-floor commons area in Knight Hall will be named Robert and Barbara Frick Commons in recognition of their generosity.

This latest gift from the couple extends their footprint in Knight and Bauer halls and brings their total commitment to the facility to $7 million. In 2013, they made a $5 million commitment to name the multilevel, multifunctional Robert and Barbara Frick Forum, which now adjoins the Frick Commons.

The couple’s recent gift was motivated by their admiration for former Dean Mahendra Gupta and the many outstanding professors and deans at Olin Business School who have provided guidance and wise counsel to Bob Frick and other students over the years. “Olin has benefited tremendously from their leadership, and Barbara and I are grateful to be able to show our appreciation in this way,” Frick said.

Gupta concluded an 11-year tenure as dean of Olin Business School on June 30 and remains on faculty in the school as the Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management.

“I am deeply grateful to Barbara and Bob for adding to their incredible record of support for Knight and Bauer halls,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “I was delighted to learn that their new commitment was inspired by the talented faculty and leaders at Washington University who have played such an important role in Bob’s life. Through their financial contributions and devoted service, the Fricks have themselves touched the lives of faculty and students across the university.”

About Robert and Barbara Frick

Robert Frick grew up in St. Louis and is an alumnus of Washington University, earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1960 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1962. A year after graduating with his business degree, Frick joined Bank of America (BOA) in San Francisco  to help develop new business in the state’s growing technology industry. He quickly rose through the ranks and by 1968 he was named the company’s youngest vice president.

Frick left BOA in 1974 to serve as vice president of finance and as a director of Measurex Corp., but elected to rejoin BOA in 1976 as managing director of its London-based 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, which included venture capital investing and real estate development in low- to moderate-income housing.

Also a native of St. Louis, Barbara Frick earned a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Kansas and a master’s of science degree from San Jose State University. A former teacher at the high school and collegiate levels, she has been actively involved for many years in the church she attends with Bob and with the Webster Groves School District, where she was a student. With Bob, she launched a real estate development operation in Sacramento and in the Bay Area, where they live. As partners in K.E.S. Management Co., the couple created quality apartment communities for low- to moderate-income residents in ethnically diverse neighborhoods and provided extensive services for the residents, including English as a second language and job-preparation programs, low-cost food resources, Head Start and tutoring.

The Fricks are dedicated supporters of Habitat for Humanity. Bob Frick serves as a board member and chair of the foundation board for the organization’s East Bay/Silicon Valley affiliate. He has participated in three Cycle of Hope cross-country bicycle rides since 2008 to raise funds for the affiliate. During the most recent challenge, Bob Frick and a friend biked across the country with the help of Barbara, who drove the support car. Beginning in the Bay Area and ending in Savannah, Ga., their 3,400-mile journey brought in more than $360,000 for the construction of two homes.

The couple’s recent support for Knight and Bauer halls was preceded by a generous commitment in 2004 to establish an endowed professorship in business and ongoing contributions for named annual scholarships at Olin Business School. They are Life Patrons of the university’s William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

Over the years, Bob Frick has served the university in numerous leadership capacities. He is a member of the Board of Trustees, the Olin Business School National Council, and the San Francisco Regional Cabinet. He is chair of the San Francisco Bay Area membership committee for the William Greenleaf Eliot Society and previously served as national membership chair for the executive committee of the Eliot Society. He also is 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. Olin Business School honored the couple’s exceptional dedication to the school by awarding them its dean’s medal in 2015.

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