Alice McManus Clark was born in Virginia City, Nevada. After she married William A. Clark Jr., the son of a former U.S. Senator who made a fortune in mining and railroad interests (and for whom Clark County, Nevada was named), she established an annual scholarship at the University of Nevada. She died in 1918 at the age of 35, and in 1921 her widower, a Los Angeles philanthropist, wrote to President Walter E. Clark (no relation): “It is my wish to build a memorial to Mrs. Clark at the University of Nevada, and I shall be glad to receive any suggestions from you, which I shall consider.”
President Clark knew exactly what to suggest. The University needed a new library but lacked the means to build one. When the small building now known as the Jones Center was built in 1914, it was intended to serve as a temporary library until funds could be raised for an adequate facility. Continued appeals to the State Legislature for a library had been unsuccessful, so the $250,000 gift from William Clark for a new building and furnishings was a windfall.
The donor selected the well-known architect Robert David Farquhar to design the new structure. The Alice McManus Clark Library, near the entrance to campus, opened in 1927 with ample reading rooms for the student body of 1500 and shelf space for 110,000 books. The librarian reported that “its comfort and convenience are greatly appreciated by all." The Clark Library served as the University's main research center for a third of a century.
By 1960, the needs and growth of the campus exceeded what the building could accommodate, and several branch libraries were already being housed by departments around campus. In 1962, the main collection was moved to the new and much larger Noble H. Getchell library, which was replaced in 2008 by the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. Today, the building is known as the Clark Administration Building and houses the offices of the University President, the Provost, and various other administrators. As part of the University of Nevada's historic Quad, the Clark Building has served as a set for several Hollywood movies filmed on campus.