Dear Graaskamp Board Members,
Happy New Year! I hope that you are safe, well and finding ways to navigate through these uncertain times.
In my year-end letter to investors in my private company, I wrote “not since the late ‘60s and early ‘70s has America had such a tough year. First came COVID, followed by massive economic distress, civil unrest and, all along, a never-ending political animosity that stifled the healing of the nation’s wounds. Tragedy comes in battalions, Shakespeare said.” The synchronized worldwide COVID shutdown in the first half of 2020 was the largest, fastest and most comprehensive reduction in economic activity ever witnessed in the modern world, with the U.S. economy contracting by a record nine percent. There is no question we needed every bit of monetary and fiscal stimulus to bring us back from the brink.
It is in times like these that we should again reflect upon the purpose and significance of the Graaskamp Center’s Board of Advisors. First, the Graaskamp Center strives to create a learning vessel for board members through the programs we offer and interaction with fellow board members. Second, as senior leaders with deep industry experience, our board members have opportunities to teach and share their industry knowledge with our students. Sharing your experiences not only helps students, but you can also be a resource to fellow board members and to our faculty. Learning is lifelong and for everyone.
Connecting with your fellow board members
We hope board members will feel free to reach out to each other — we have an amazing board that is involved in every activity known to real estate and includes both public and private companies all over the U.S. and the world. A good way to reacquaint yourself with the depth of board membership is to go through our Board Directory. Let us know if you need a directory and we’ll send one to you. Board members enjoy hearing from other board members.
How can you connect and engage with students?
Many board members have a natural talent for, and interest in, teaching students. If you are one of these people, let us know. The opportunities include classroom lecturing, mentoring and presenting to our Real Estate Private Equity class on topics like due diligence, underwriting, managing a private equity firm or providing advice on presenting live deals for investment. We are open to any teaching experience that enriches the real estate education of our students.
Lifelong learning opportunities for 2021
In our current COVID period, we have hosted our Virtual Leadership Series, as well as other events. Presenters have included senior leaders from Blackstone, CIBC Bank and Real Capital Analytics. We kicked off 2021 with Professors Mark Eppli’s popular 2021 Commercial Real Forecast on January 13th. Register here for upcoming virtual presentation with Cia Buckley Marakovits, Partner/Managing Director at Dune Real Estate Partners; John Brady, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager at Oaktree Capital; and Dr. Vallabh “Samba” Sambamurthy, Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business. We look forward to hosting in-person events in the fall.
Center Milestones and Accomplishments
Over the last two years, the Graaskamp Center and Real Estate Department has seen tremendous progress and we are planning for more. All of us take pride in the recognition and stature of our program. I’m pleased to report that U.S. News and World Report has again Wisconsin Real Estate Program as the #1 Public Real Estate Program, #2 overall among 67 undergraduate real estate programs in the country. We also are delighted to announce that a group of 11 Wisconsin Real Estate alumni and friends have come together to create an endowed directorship for the Graaskamp Center. In addition to supporting the Directorship currently held by Mark Eppli, these funds will provide stability and give the center a clear strategic advantage by ensuring funds are available for innovative applied learning activities for our students. Read our 2019-20 Milestones and Accomplishments here, and learn about the new world-class scholars who joined us last fall: Lu Han and Dayin Zhang; and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Asad Khan.
We hope to deliver great opportunities for you to both learn and teach as we advance our educational mission. As board members and senior practitioners of our craft, you are a vital part of that mission. Thank you for your support.
Michael Brennan, Irgens Executive Director
Graaskamp Center for Real Estate