From left: New Jersey Institute of Technology President Joel Bloom; Paul Profeta, president and founder of Paul V. Profeta & Associates; and Teik C. Lim, NJIT’s incoming president, were on hand March 10 for the dedication of the new Paul Profeta Real Estate Technology, Design and Innovation Center at the university’s Newark campus. — Photos courtesy: James Marko/NJIT
By Joshua Burd
Many of us who know Paul Profeta know of his connection to education: He sees it as paramount, not just as a measure of skill or achievement but as the foundation of his family.
He explained last week at the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Newark campus, describing his parents’ arrival to the United States in the early 20th century, in a climate of prejudice against Italians and other immigrants.
“It might be hard to conceive of an America that was that way, but that cauldron seared them and they wanted to figure out a way to become respected,” said Profeta, the founder and president of Roseland-based Paul V. Profeta & Associates. “And they did — they figured out that education is the way to become respected in this country.
“The road to respect is paved with education,” he continued. “Education is the escalator. And it still is today, and if you come to this campus today, you’ll see the sons and daughters of immigrants taking that escalator to get their degree and get respect.”
That belief has guided Profeta’s decades of investment in education, including the gift whose mission is now taking shape at NJIT. It was where university leaders gathered Thursday to unveil the new Paul Profeta Real Estate Technology, Design and Innovation Center, launching what aims to be a pivotal expansion of the school’s business curriculum, while celebrating the largest-ever donation to the 140-year-old institution.
“He has been this larger-than-life investor in our students, in our faculty, in our university,” NJIT President Joel Bloom said during the late-morning ceremony, detailing Profeta’s fast-growing involvement with the school. He also called back to what he estimates were two dozen conversations with the longtime real estate investor and philanthropist, who insists that NJIT is not well enough known despite the quality of the education it provides.
“This is part of the marketing of NJIT and what you are doing for us,” Bloom added.
Profeta, who is also the publisher of Real Estate NJ, joined NJIT last spring in announcing the historic gift to the public polytechnic university, the amount of which was undisclosed. Last week’s gathering marked the dedication of the new real estate center and the unveiling of a physical space for the program, drawing Profeta’s family, friends, business associates and other supporters.
Housed in NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management, the center will look to serve as a hub of teaching, training and research related to the disruptive technologies, innovation and novel design and construction techniques that are actively transforming the real estate field. University officials expect the center to draw on the expertise, experience and interests of the Tuchman School as well as of the Hillier College of Architecture and Design, Ying Wu College of Computing and the Newark College of Engineering.
“It’s a critical component of the Tuchman School’s roadmap for success,” said Oya Tukel, dean of the Tuchman School and acting director of the real estate center. “It both embraces and embodies the school’s mission statement to apply the disruptive thinking, innovation and collaborative energy of a startup to business education and research to enrich our lives.”
Profeta, a member of NJIT’s board of overseers, also launched real estate centers at Columbia Business School in New York in 1980 and at Rutgers Business School in Newark in 2013, with the latter having grown to roughly 800 students in recent years. But he said the investiture at NJIT was the “culmination” of his parents’ commitment to education.
And, as university officials noted, the gift was not limited to the real estate center. It also created the Profeta Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will serve as a hub for Newark-focused entrepreneurship initiatives and look to cultivate and nurture historically underserved entrepreneurs in and around the state’s largest city, especially women and those from racial and ethnic minority groups.
“His commitment to establish the center is really just one piece of Paul’s larger philanthropic vision to support entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, education and the greater Newark community through an investment in our faculty, our students and programs here at NJIT,” said Kenneth Alexo Jr., NJIT’s vice president for development and alumni relations. “Today we are focused on the Profeta Real Estate Center, but please know that this commitment extends well beyond that one program. Indeed, Paul’s partnership with NJIT is nothing short of transformative.”
NJIT launching real estate, entrepreneurship centers with gift from Profeta, its largest ever