“I would like my words to convey to Fred Petri my utmost gratitude for his quiet and humble contribution to the real estate program here at the Wisconsin School of Business. In deference to his wishes, we are honoring him tonight by simply being here, around him; no roast, no toast, no lifetime achievement award. Any such award would be unfair because we cannot yet measure the full impact of his contribution.
We would not be here tonight if he had not worked tirelessly and successfully, by himself and with his friends, to convince the UW and the School of Business to stay involved in real estate education once Jim Graaskamp passed away. Fred set the foundation for the post-Graaskamp era, putting us on a path whereby today we have a legitimate claim at global leadership in real estate education.
Once the program was secure, he innovated with his friend Jim Curtis to create and fund (with additional help from E.J. Plesko) the Applied Real Estate Investment Trust (AREIT) training program, one of the distinguishing features of our real estate MBA program. This program is so valuable that last year we extended its reach to include undergraduate students – a gift that keeps on giving.
Fred Petri has done much more for us, some of it only the chairman of the department will ever get to measure and appreciate.
Personally, I want to thank you, Fred, for two things. First, a month after I started at Wisconsin, we bumped into each other at the Madison airport. You sat me down and gave me the lay of the land. I left twenty minutes later thinking: these guys are really passionate about their real estate program, I’d better do my best. Second, today I am here as chair of possibly the best real estate program in the U.S., arguably the best in the world. Through the Global Real Estate Master (GREM) partnership, we are establishing ourselves as the real estate department to the number one business schools in Asia, Latin America and Europe. Without your inspiration to my career here, without your influence on the program, I would not have the privilege today to share the evening with you and so many of your friends dedicated to training the most competent, professional and passionate real estate leaders around the world.
So on behalf of all of us, on behalf of our Dean Mike Knetter who could not be here tonight, and on behalf of the university, thank you.”
Photo by Martha Busse of Fred Petri (center) with friends and family at the fall meeting of the Graaskamp Center Board of Advisors.