The University of Virginia has established a new Center for Real Estate and the Built Environment at the McIntire School of Commerce, envisioned as a hub bringing together the commercial real estate curriculum and research from across the university to benefit students, faculty members, alumni and industry.
A $10 million gift from 1987 McIntire alumnus Robert M. White Jr., founder and former CEO of Real Capital Analytics Inc., initiated funding for the center.
“We are extremely grateful for Bob’s partnership which has helped us bring together the University’s extensive academic activities in real estate under one roof,” said Nicole Thorne Jenkins, Dean of the McIntire School. “The center will operate as a pan-academic real estate hub through which we will bring together students and faculty from various disciplines with alumni and industry to support our academic programs, expand and strengthen our UVA and industry networks, and support production. and dissemination of research from faculty and industry.
This is White’s second major real estate gift to the University. In December 2019, White gave the McIntire School $3 million to create the Bicentennial Real Estate Finance Teachers Fund, which established the position held by Drew Sanderford, who will be the first director of the new center. Combined with an additional $2 million from the University’s Bicentennial Faculty Fund, White’s donation ultimately provided $5 million in faculty support for initiatives in the area of housing finance.
White, who credits his studies in finance at business school with preparing him for a successful career monitoring capital markets for international commercial real estate, spoke out and intentionally to help the school of commerce to expand its footprint in cross-disciplinary real estate efforts. With his latest gift, White aims to stimulate high-impact activities that will support the wider University and create a welcoming learning and networking environment for historically underserved or underrepresented individuals and communities.
“The center’s mission says it all: it exists to build bridges and to support the exchange of knowledge about commercial real estate and the built environment,” White said. “I look forward to seeing the center enhance the real estate experience at AVU for all interested students, faculty, alumni and industry partners by creating points of exploration and discussion around fundraising related ideas. and real estate investment, development, design, urban data analysis, urban planning, economics, construction and the influence of the built environment on society.
The center is the culmination of a long-standing university-wide goal to create rich and meaningful interaction between the business school and other interested schools, including the school of architecture, the college of arts and sciences, the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Darden School of Business, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Law. In support of AVU’s 2030 strategic goals, the business school’s seventh “Center of Excellence” will enhance and amplify programming related to commercial real estate; support and create resources for students and faculty across multiple units; and establish pathways for networking, engagement and giving back to alumni.
Although the center does not create a curriculum, it will help strengthen interdisciplinary academic programs, such as McIntire’s multi-course program real estate journey and its interdisciplinarity real estate miner, who started her first classes this semester. Additionally, the center will also support specialized programs such as the School of Architecture’s recent Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Plus Design and Development and the School of Architecture’s Engineering and Construction Management program. engineering. The center will foster student, alumni, and faculty engagement through activities and events, often in conjunction with the McIntire and Darden Student Real Estate Clubs, the AVU Alumni Real Estate Group, and partners university industrialists.
“The new center embodies the next step in a developing tradition of intellectual engagement with commercial property investment and the built environment at the University that dates back to Professor George Overstreet’s course in 1984,” said Sanderford. “The creation of the center would not have been possible without strong leadership, thoughtful administration and the determination and generosity of our alumni and friends. It’s a really exciting opportunity to expand how we can be both great and good.