Alumni Real Estate Professionals Rally to Support New UVA Darden Real Estate Initiative

By Jay Hodgkins

Matt Renner (MBA ’86) is the latest graduate to throw support behind the University of Virginia Darden School of Business’ growing Real Estate Initiative, as he and his wife, Linda, pledged a major gift of $250,000.

“Ultimately, I hope Darden can offer a broad array of interconnected real estate courses so students get a better idea of the breadth of the industry and all that it has to offer,” said Renner, president of St. Louis, Missouri-based National Real Estate Management Corp. “Real estate is a diverse field that can offer new opportunities to Darden students that may not have been evident in the past.”

Darden’s Real Estate Initiative aims to:

  • Add real estate expertise to the Darden faculty with a new full-time faculty member and professors of practice
  • Support experiential opportunities for students and the student-run Real Estate Club
  • Expand real estate cases across the curriculum in marketing, finance and other courses
  • Capitalize on Darden’s extensive global network with international treks

Renner’s gift comes on the heels of a $100,000 gift to support the initiative from Scott Adams (MBA ’92), Tom Robinson (MBA ’73) and Anthony Smith (MBA ’87), partners in the Colliers International office in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2019, David Walentas (MBA ’64) and his late wife, Jane, pledged to fund the new Walentas Professorship in Real Estate at the Darden School as part of a $100 million gift to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. Alex Westra (MBA ’12) also made a $100,000 gift to create the Westra Family Fund in Real Estate, which will advance Darden’s real estate offerings through the student experience, including stipends and enhanced career development support.

“Darden taught me to be a critical thinker, which has served me well in my 30-plus years in real estate,” Renner said. “I was familiar with the growing momentum in real estate at both UVA and Darden, and those early efforts induced our family to also support the initiative. In turn, we hope fellow alumni industry peers will join us.”

Renner said Darden’s core curriculum prepares students well across a broad base of industries.

However, with an enhanced real estate curriculum, he believes students can develop the mindset, industry knowledge and problem-solving skills to act decisively in the rapidly evolving industry. On a personal level, he hopes Darden’s Real Estate Initiative can imbue students with the type of industry knowledge a close mentor provided him.

“I began my real estate career with limited specific industry knowledge, but I was fortunate enough to have a great mentor, my father-in-law, Thomas R. Green,” Renner said. “It is our hope that Darden’s efforts in real estate will teach future students what my father-in-law imparted upon me.”

To support the Darden Real Estate Initiative, contact Whitney Wilson at or +1-434-924-0706.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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