Thursday, July 14, 2011

A few observations on the evolution of our Program and School

by Stephen Malpezzi, Professor and Lorin and Marjorie Tiefenthaler Distinguished Chair in Real Estate

We've had two significant changes in the staffing and organization of the Wisconsin School of Business and our real estate program in the past few weeks. On July 1, Associate Professor Morris Davis took the reins as Academic Director of the Graaskamp Center, implementing a succession plan that we've had in place for some time. A very short description of the Graaskamp Center's main functions are to provide a home for the MBA program in real estate, and to implement the Wisconsin Idea by connecting our program more deeply to the worlds of business practice and policy outside the University. Morris' movement into this position is a natural evolution after he so successfully took on leadership of the MBA program last year; now he adds the outreach functions to his portfolio. With the support of the faculty, Center staff, Executive Director Michael Brennan, and the rest of the UW real estate community, Professor Davis is well placed to move the Center to the next stage of its evolution. Morris' deep and probing approach to the study of real estate, and his enthusiasm and out-of-the-box thinking, augur well for our future.

Our second change is even more significant, as on September 1 our esteemed Department Chair François Ortalo-Magné becomes the Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, succeeding our program's good friend Mike Knetter. During his tenure as Department Chair, François has worked tirelessly and effectively to move our program and the School ahead, in ways large and small. Most of you know at least the outlines of the Global Real Estate Masters (GREM), our innovative partnership with HEC, INCAE and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to offer dual degrees to students from those top schools, in the process exposing our MBAs and undergraduates to repeated cohorts of future fellow global leaders in real estate. Perhaps fewer people outside Madison know about many of the other innovations François has pioneered in the "blocking and tackling" of the program, e.g. our marketing, financial stewardship, and curriculum. François has shown repeatedly that he is one of those rare leaders who excel at both the development of innovative strategies and their careful execution.
Right now, the highest priority for our real estate program has to be moving ahead in concert with the Wisconsin School of Business, and I am completely confident François is the right person to build on the contributions of Mike Knetter, (interim dean) Joan Schmit and other leaders of our School.

Naturally, we will have some other changes to announce in the weeks and months ahead as we adjust the roles of faculty and staff in response to these exciting developments. For now, let me simply congratulate Morris and François on their new roles, and convey my own enthusiasm about the possibilities these changes open up for the Graaskamp Center, the entire Wisconsin Real Estate Program, and the Wisconsin School of Business. I have had, and continue to enjoy, the privilege of working with Morris and François and our other faculty and staff, and so many of you who embody those attributes and values that make the Wisconsin Tradition what it is today: intellectual rigor, an ethical approach to our business, great enthusiasm for our students, "continual and fearless sifting and winnowing." I know you will join me in supporting Morris and François in their new roles. On Wisconsin!

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