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UW real estate center to be named for real estate legend James A. Graaskamp

February 6, 2007

Almost 600 alumni and friends have generated nearly $11 million in donations for the University of Wisconsin–Madison Center for Real Estate, which will be renamed in honor of the late James A. Graaskamp, a legendary figure in real estate education.

The program is more than halfway toward its goal of raising $20 million over five years to maintain Wisconsin as a premier real estate program nationally.

As part of the larger effort, alumni and friends raised $6 million to rename the center, starting with a $1.7 million challenge gift from alumni Bryant Wangard and Mike Arneson and other principals of TOLD Development.

That was followed by $1 million from an anonymous donor and another $1 million from Chuck and Kathleen Heath of Madison.

UW Foundation president Andrew Wilcox calls the campaign “a real triumph. It’s a testament to Jim Graaskamp’s effect on the lives of people.” A special dedication ceremony is planned for April 25 in Madison.

Graaskamp was a passionate teacher known for his devotion to students and intellectual oratory.

He is credited with converting the field from a traditional finance emphasis to an eclectic mix of classes in behaviorism, physical science, and business administration.

Graaskamp also recognized the environmental and social impacts of development and investment and so wove a deep concern for ethics into his approach to real estate education and his teachings about risk management, feasibility analysis, development and appraisal. Graaskamp, who joined the department in 1964, died in 1988.

The new James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate will build upon Graaskamp’s legacy and carry it forward, says Timothy Riddiough, center director.

“We are extremely grateful to our alumni, Center for Real Estate Board of Advisors, and friends for helping us achieve this important outcome,” he says. “Our role is to act as the caretaker of Graaskamp’s legacy, with the additional responsibility of fostering innovation in real estate research and education.”

The undergraduate program, ranked second in 2006 by U.S. News and World Report, offers a comprehensive multidisciplinary curriculum and exposes students to global real estate opportunities through trips to France, China, Dubai, Chile and other countries.

The MBA curriculum deepens that understanding with comprehensive courses in feasibility analysis, development and real estate investment, in addition to required overseas trips to study international markets. UW–Madison also was first in the nation to offer the Applied Real Estate Security Analysis Program, which teaches MBA students to manage a $1 million portfolio of real estate investment stocks.