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    master’s in real estate,” Davis said. He pointed, for instance, to the success of New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, and while many New Jersey residents currently cross the Hudson River to attend the NYU program, he believes Rutgers could offer a comparable education with the added value of in-state tuition.
Additionally, the Center for Real Estate is exploring whether to offer a continuing education program for industry professionals. Davis listed that prospect as a top objective behind the standalone major for undergraduates.
support from the industry has been vital to the center. That began in early 2013 when Paul V. Profeta, the owner and
president of
Paul V. Profeta
and Associates
Inc. and the
publisher of
Real Estate
NJ, donated
$1.5 million
to establish a
chair in the field. Those funds were matched by an anonymous donor to create $3 million in seed money for the real estate program.
By 2015, the center had assembled a group of industry influencers to form its Executive Committee, hosted its first conference and launched its first courses. Davis and the committee also recruited dozens of leading development executives and service professionals to form its Advisory Board, which continues to provide critical funding and guidance to the program.
“We are on a mission to become the best real estate center in the country,” said Profeta, who in
1980 helped launch the real estate department at Columbia University. Achieving that goal requires the funding to recruit top-tier faculty, which then translates into industry- leading classes and research, along with the ability offer graduates the best jobs.
The Rutgers program has achieved growth by almost every measure. After starting virtually from scratch five years ago, the center saw roughly 525 students enrolled in its courses for the 2018-2019 academic year, while courses such as law, finance
and capital markets are full or nearly so on a consistent basis.
The center recorded another milestone in 2018, when it published a sweeping research paper on the impact of multifamily development on school-age children in municipalities, one that is now widely cited in land use proceedings in the state. Meantime, the department has compiled a calendar of both large conferences and small networking events for Advisory Board members and students.
Taking the next step will require additional investment and resources.
“There’s an enormous amount of room for growth, but with that growth we’re going to have to scale up the operation,” Davis said. “And anyone that’s run a business knows that one of the hardest things to
do is to scale and to keep quality high. We’re expecting to scale, we’re expecting to grow and then our challenge is to make sure that we maintain providing a premium product.”
Davis and his team also have their sights set on increased scholarship funding. He expects the department to award some $300,000 to students this academic year, up from $26,000 four years ago, but its goal is to give out $1 million within five years.
“We’re comfortable with the $300,000
number,” Davis said. “The $1 million number is about where we expect our student body to be in five years’ time. We expect it to triple, so we want to make sure the scholarship money is there for them.”
Davis was quick to note that “many members of the community have stepped up” to support the growth to date, including some of the state’s prominent real estate families and industry associations. That support has been critical to ensuring that the university’s top real estate students can “make the decisions that maximize their career potential, rather than forcing them into a situation where they have to take a bad job to pay down student debt.”
But preserving and growing that support is tied to another top priority and an ongoing challenge: establishing an endowment for the Center for Real Estate. While the center in recent years has leaned heavily on its Advisory Board, Davis said it has sought a transformative naming gift that would allow it
to “establish a permanence and a legacy of excellence for students at Rutgers.”
In the meantime, the Executive Committee remains focused on recruiting new board members to both grow the organization and replace seats that have turned over. For those who are not content to
simply support real estate education, Profeta’s sales pitch emphasizes networking — namely, gaining access to some of the state’s most influential developers and service providers.
“What I say to them is, ‘You’re joining the New Jersey real estate society,’ ” Profeta said. “You’re becoming an official member and a member with standing.”
Davis also noted that Advisory Board members “get early access to the best students in New Jersey who are trained in real estate.” That exposure has allowed the center to provide its students with a growing list of job placements with the likes of Related Cos., The Hampshire Cos., Citigroup and PGIM Real Estate.
And, as Profeta noted, that relationship is meant to be mutually beneficial, especially for students that have left a job during their prime earning years to pursue an MBA.
“Getting a good, high-paying job coming out of that is absolutely critical,” Profeta said. “And they look for the school that’s going to afford them the best job. That’s one of their criteria, and if you’re able to offer students the best jobs and you have that reputation, you’re going to get the best students.” RE
(Editor’s note: Paul V. Profeta is the owner and publisher of Real Estate NJ.)
 Paul V. Profeta
    The Rutgers Center for Real Estate has compiled a calendar of both large conferences and small networking events for Advisory Board members and students. Pictured is student Ty-Lynn Johnson, class of 2020, during the center’s Real Estate Capital Allocation Symposium in 2018.
Photo by Fred Stucker/Courtesy: Rutgers Center for Real Estate

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