UVA Darden School Announces New Initiative to Engage, Inform and Inspire Responsible Leaders in Real Estate

By Derry Wade

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced today the formation of the Real Estate Initiative, offering a unique suite of courses, degree programs, extra-curricular and career development activities to support student interests in commercial real estate finance, development, management, and mergers and acquisitions.

Hosted by the Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management at Darden and led by Executive Director Rodney Sullivan, the new initiative works in partnership with the UVA School of Architecture and the pan-University Center for Real Estate and Built Environment housed at the McIntire School of Commerce to offer activities for all University of Virginia students and the broader community.

"It is critical that our students and broader society appreciate the role the built environment has on global challenges like sustainability and income inequality."
Professor Michael Lenox

Darden’s Real Estate Initiative builds on the school’s longstanding offerings in real estate, asset management and investing from the Mayo Center, and it represents a significant acceleration of opportunity for Darden students who wish to pursue careers in real estate by providing a distinct offering among leading MBA programs. Through the initiative, students will develop the critical mindset, specific knowledge and problem-solving skills to act decisively and responsibly in a rapidly evolving industry. “Real Estate is a vital sector that has vast impacts on business and society,” said Darden Senior Associate Dean, Chief Strategy Officer, and Professor Michael Lenox, whose research interests include sustainability and real estate. “It is critical that our students and broader society appreciate the role the built environment has on global challenges like sustainability and income inequality.”

Key components of the initiative include:

  • A new real estate dual degree program (MBA/MUEP) in partnership with the UVA School of Architecture, which is being finalized.
  • The recently launched Colonnade Fund in the Darden Capital Management club (DCM), which offers real-world asset management opportunities in the real estate sector and is overseen by a team of student portfolio managers.
  • A real estate “track” for MBA students and additional real estate courses available to all UVA students. A graduate certificate in real estate is under exploration.
  • Career opportunities and internships with leading firms in real estate through the Investment Fellowship Program, and career development support by Paul Reeder, senior director of Careers in Finance in Darden’s Career Center. Reeder is the central resource for students, focused on recruiting in real estate development, working directly with the pan-University Center for Real Estate and Built Environment to ensure optimal alumni networking and career support across Grounds.
  • Support for the Darden Real Estate Club, including nationwide real estate case competitions and training on ARGUS, an industry-standard investment tool for real estate
  • Event, research, university collaboration and infrastructure support via the Mayo Center
  • Expansion of real estate cases across the curriculum

Initiative Propelled By Generous Gifts

The Darden Real Estate Initiative gained support from several generous alumni and friends. Matt Renner (MBA ’86), president of St. Louis, Missouri-based National Real Estate Management Corp., and his wife, Linda, pledged $250,000 toward the initiative last fall, on the heels of a gift of $100,000 from Scott Adams (MBA ’92), Tom Robinson (MBA ’73) and Anthony Smith (MBA ’87), partners in the Colliers International office in Norfolk, Virginia. Smith teaches two of Darden’s real estate elective courses, “Introduction to Real Estate Finance and Development” and “Hot Topics in Commercial Real Estate,” covering trends such as affordable housing, environmental sustainability and mixed-use projects.

Alex Westra (MBA ’12) made a $100,000 gift to create the Westra Family Fund in Real Estate, which will advance Darden’s real estate offerings for students, including stipends and enhanced support for career development. David Walentas (MBA ’64) and his late wife, Jane, have pledged to fund a $5 million Walentas Professorship in Real Estate at the Darden School as part of a $100 million gift to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.

“Through the Real Estate Initiative, support from donors and our incredible alumni network, Darden is joining with partners across the University and beyond to create unparalleled resources for students who seek to become responsible leaders in the field,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “The initiative and its partnerships will be transformational for our students and the University as a whole.”

To learn more, visit the Real Estate Initiative online or contact Rodney Sullivan, executive director, Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management.

To support the Darden Real Estate Initiative, contact Whitney Wilson at WilsonW@darden.virginia.edu

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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