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2022 Spring Update from Graaskamp Center Director Mark Eppli

By Wisconsin School of Business

April 26, 2022

Dear Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

The reemergence of the Memorial Union Terrace tables and chairs arrives like clockwork every Spring.  Similar to the returning robins, meadowlarks, and red-winged blackbirds, 2,000 Terrace tables and chairs will return to the Terrace in the coming weeks – my favorite color, Allis Chalmers Orange.  As of March, the reemergence is without COVID mask requirements and an enthusiasm for the possible.

Mark Eppli sitting in empty classroom
Graaskamp Center Director Mark Eppli

As the spring semester winds down, I want to take time to reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past year:

Alumnus Gary Gorman Endows $1 million faculty chair to lead innovative new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Development Track. New faculty member Christopher Timmins will be the first recipient:  We are pleased to announce that longtime UW-Madison supporter, alumnus, and Graaskamp Board Member Gary Gorman, Chairman of the Board of Gorman & Company, has committed $1 million to endow a new faculty position within the Department of Real Estate.

Christopher Timmins, Professor of Economics at Duke University, with a secondary appointment in Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, is joining the talented real estate faculty in the Wisconsin School of Business in Fall 2023 and will be the first recipient of the new endowed Professorship. A Stanford University-trained Professor, Timmins specializes in natural resource and environmental economics, a great faculty fit for the emerging Affordable Housing and Sustainable Development track to be launched in Fall 2024. 

Record enrollment in BBA, MBA, and MS Programs: Spring 2022 BBA Real Estate enrollment revealed a 12% increase over the previous year to 599 real estate undergraduates and from a post-Great Financial Crisis low of 134 BBA Real Estate majors, making it the third-largest undergraduate major at the WSB.  Similarly, our real estate graduate programs grew from 10-15 enrolled students over the previous decade to 53 graduate students (MSRE/MBA RE/GREM) this Spring semester.  And not only are we engaging a record number of students, but student placement is also off the charts.

Refocused undergraduate real estate major – skills to meet industry needs: Over the past two years, to enhance and better align the BBA Real Estate curriculum, a team of faculty, staff and students completed a deep dive into mapping the undergraduate learning outcomes. The primary purpose of curriculum mapping is to provide a clear vision for the real estate major and for each course within the major and to achieve better programmatic alignment with industry needs. The revised BBA curriculum begins for incoming WSB BBA Real Estate students in the Fall 2022 semester. Updates include:

  • The Real Estate Program’s overarching goal is stated as: “Teach students to comprehensively underwrite commercial real estate” with the objective of preparing students for sophomore and junior summer internships and successful careers in real estate upon graduation.
  • New course sequencing that builds from introductory to advanced real estate concepts across semesters
  • Revisions in course content that include refreshed and required Excel and Argus course

Case Competitions are back: Student case competition entrants have traveled to North Carolina, Texas, and Las Vegas, while the Ryerson (Toronto) and Argus competitions were held remotely. Our talented students took second place in the UNC and Ryerson case competitions.

Applied Real Estate Investment Track (AREIT) Update: The 2021/2022 AREIT Fund was fully invested in REIT stocks by the end of 2021 and made solid mid-year adjustments in their AREIT Board presentation in late January.  While the narrow analysis of individual REIT securities is core to student learning, navigating macroeconomic changes is critical in today’s pandemic and Ukrainian invasion market environment – neither of which directly impact REITs but are critical to portfolio positioning and stock selection.

Real Estate Private Equity (REPE) Track Update: The REPE students have successfully invested in eight separate opportunities and have $450,000 remaining of the $3.0 million WREAA Fund I, L.P. to invest. As most of these investments are value-add, we look forward to reporting WREAA Fund I, L.P. investment returns in the coming years.

WREAA Fund I, L.P. investments are mainly in multifamily investments, in Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson, Scottsdale, and Houston.  WREAA Fund I, L.P. is also invested in a self-storage facility in Austin and a single-tenant industrial building in Janesville. 

The REPE faculty and students are deeply appreciative of the tireless work of the WREAA Leadership (led by Jim Roemer), Investment Committee (chaired by Brian Eisendrath), the sponsors, and many guest presentations including our recent March 10

Industry outreach events are back in person: After two years of pandemic travel limitations, Graaskamp-on-the-Road is back on the road in Austin, Orange County, and Milwaukee, and the Center’s Board Spring Board Conference was recently hosted at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Chicago

Record membership levels for Real Estate Club: The Real Estate Club is also back in-person and enjoying its highest membership ever with a record 335+ dues-paying members with presentations by Wells Fargo, TA Associates, UW-Madison’s Campus Planning Office, Mandel Group, Brennan Investments, and a panel real estate alums and friends. The Women in Real Estate Club boasts over 75 active members and has held five meetings per semester with real estate industry professionals.

With a new curriculum, new faculty, and outsized interest in both the undergraduate and graduate programs, we are reemerging this Spring from a long Covid Winter, strong and ready to roll, ready to grow.  And whether you prefer the John Deere yellow or green or the Allis Chalmers Orange, a chair and a Terrace Moment await you. See you there!               

On, Wisconsin!

Mark Eppli, Director, Graaskamp Center