Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Investiture - we are very proud


Professor's expertise provides strong foundation for real estate center at Rutgers Business School
Former Federal Reserve Board economist will hold endowed faculty position, establish real estate education program and research center.
NEWARK, N.J.Oct. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Morris A. Davis, the first professor to fill the Paul V. Profeta Chair at Rutgers Business School, plans to create a Center for Real Estate Studies in 10 years that is on par with programs at Columbia, New York University and Wharton.
Rutgers Business School Dean Glenn Shafer stands with Professor Morris Davis (center) and real estate investor Paul Profeta. Profeta's gift helped to fund an endowed faculty chair held by Davis.
The real estate world is filled with big plans, and Davis is adding his own.
He expects a board of advisors to the Center for Real Estate Studies to be in place within a year, to generate excitement about the program and begin offering classes in 2015. Ultimately, he wants "world class" and "Rutgers" and "real estate" to be part of a recognizable brand.
His ambitions, he said, are fueled by the wave of support he has received from executives in the region during the past month as he laid out some initial plans for a center that will sit at the heart of the new academic program at Rutgers.
"I'm facilitating something that people have wanted for decades," Davis said. "There's a thirst for real estate education and a desire by the industry to be involved. It's not a question of whether we can get something established, but how well we do it."
Davis, 42, was formally installed as the inaugural Paul V. Profeta Chair in Real Estate during a ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 23. In the endowed faculty position, he will be responsible for designing real estate curriculum for graduate and undergraduate students, hiring lecturers and branding Rutgers as a place of real estate expertise.
Davis said he plans to build the center based on a hub-and-spoke model, with the center serving as the hub. Students, faculty, industry professionals and the community, he said, represent the connecting spokes.
"When people talk about the center, the first thing they think about are what classes will be offered and what degrees will be offered," Davis said. "But that's not just what distinguishes a program. What makes a center great is being the focal point of all of these possible connections.''
He has already put some of the pieces into place.
James E. Hanson II, president and chief executive officer of Hampshire Real Estate Companies, will serve as co-chair of the board of advisors for the Center for Real Estate Studies. Real estate industry veteran Carl Goldberg, who spent eight years as chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, will also serve as a co-chair.
The selection of Goldberg and Hanson provides the center with two leaders well-known to the industry as well as to state lawmakers in Trenton.
According to Davis, a great center focuses on educating the industry as well as students and enables interactions to occur among real estate professionals, faculty, students and the community. Ideally, those interactions, he said, result in a sharing of thought leadership, mentoring opportunities, internships and employment.
Davis, a native of Philadelphia who studied at the University of Pennsylvania, spent six years working as an economist at the Federal Reserve. His responsibilities there included advising then Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on a number of occasions during the peak of the housing bubble.
The Federal Reserve was a "fascinating" place to work, Davis said. It was during his time there that he took an interest in the housing market and began studying trends and patterns that were playing out across the country. In the Washington D.C. area, for example, people were tearing down houses and building large, new homes. Davis looked at what part the tech boom played in that activity.
"It was," Davis said, explaining how his focus turned to housing, "really just curiosity."
His research got noticed by people within the Fed but also by academia, which led to his taking a job at the University of Wisconsin's business school in Madison. He spent eight years at the Wisconsin School of Business, home to the prominent, decades-old Graaskamp Center for Real Estate.
After a few years of teaching, he was appointed to hold the James Graaskamp Chair in Real Estate and a year later, he was named the center's academic director. He expects to draw on the lessons he learned in Madison as he gets to work in Newark.
"The question in Wisconsin was what can we do better?" Davis said. "It wasn't like building a program from scratch."
During the ceremony to install Davis as the new chair, Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor spoke of him in the same way she has recently described the Newark Campus – "On the move."
"We are launching a new trajectory with an extraordinary scholar who is already pushing hard and creating a whirlwind of activity," Cantor said.
An investiture ceremony, which is held to formally install a faculty member into an endowed chair, is a time-honored tradition. Administrators and faculty members, dressed in robes and colorful hoods, filed into Bove Auditorium as a violin quartet performed.
Glenn Shafer, the dean of Rutgers Business School, reminded the audience that the Paul Profeta Chair revives a real estate program that Rutgers lost in the 1990's when Richard Marshall, a popular real estate MBA professor, retired.
Shafer touted some of the ways Rutgers Business School stands out among others in the Big 10, including its size and post-graduate MBA employment ranking. "We're hoping the real estate center gives us some additional bragging rights in just a few years," he said.
Profeta, a real estate investor and Newark philanthropist who committed $1.5 million to fund the chair, (an anonymous donor matched Profeta's gift) said he could not be happier to have helped lure Davis to Rutgers.
"Morris has a game plan for the Rutgers Real Estate Center," Profeta said. "He has thought it through and it is going to work. He intends to make the center the pre-eminent real estate center in the country within 10 years.
"At the rate Morris accomplishes things," he said, "I think it will happen much more quickly."