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$10M gift from UM alumnus to fund new real estate center

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan will launch a real estate center offering student courses with a $10 million gift from one of its regents, officials announced Thursday.

Ron Weiser endowed his former university with the money that will be used to create the Weiser Center for Real Estate. The announcement was made by the U-M Board of Regents, which Weiser chairs, on Thursday.

The center will be launched through the university's Stephen M. Ross School of Business and will intersectbusiness and real estate studies. Students will learn from seasoned real estate professionals and prepare for the complex field of real estate business, officials said.

Weiser and his wife, Eileen, are longstanding U-M alumni who have committed more than $100 million to the university, officials said. They both served as vice-chairs of the Victors for Michigan campaign, multi-year fundraising campaign. 

Ron Weiser

Weiser graduated from Michigan Ross in 1966 and founded McKinley Inc., a national real estate investment company based in Ann Arbor. He is the former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia and served as chairman of the Michigan Republican Party from 2009-11 and 2017 to February 2019. 

Eileen Weiser, an alumnus of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, is a former executive director of the McKinley Foundation and recently finished her second, eight-year term on the State Board of Education. She chairs the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. 

"I look forward to the center becoming the hub for real estate at the university and Ross," Ron Weiser said in a statement. 

The Weiser Center will collaborate with schools across U-M's campus, including the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. 

Scott DeRue, dean of the Ross School of Business at UM in Ann Arbor, said the center will transform the university by providing practical training and serving as a catalyst for interdisciplinary collaboration at Michigan.

"Students will gain the knowledge, skills and connections they need to launch successful careers in real estate," DeRue said in a statement. "Students will also learn how real estate plays an important role in all types of business, and how understanding the principles of real estate is essential for managing global and distributed organizations. The center's engagement with industry professionals and companies will elevate our reputation as a leading center of excellence in this exciting field."

The center is expected to offer undergraduate and graduate courses on real estate involving finance, law, investing, asset and property management, and sustainable development. Students will have opportunities to work with real estate firms in programs such as the Ross School's Multidisciplinary Action Projects. It will house a professional in-residence program with real estate experts who will offer development workshops, mentorship and career coaching, officials said.

The center also will offer a Weiser Scholars Fellowship, through which six students will be accepted annually for student support and fellowship activities.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_