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Wisconsin professor named as first Profeta Chair in Real Estate at Rutgers Business School

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Dr. Morris Davis, a real estate and urban land economics professor at Wisconsin Business School, has been chosen to hold the Paul V. Profeta Chair in Real Estate at Rutgers Business School and help build Rutgers into a leading center for real estate studies and research.

Davis, who completed his PhD in economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998, has held the James A. Graaskamp Chair in Real Estate at the Wisconsin School of Business since 2010. He began serving as academic director of the business school’s Graaskamp Center for Real Estate in 2011.

"I’m very honored and excited to be the first real estate chair at Rutgers,” Davis said in a telephone interview. "This is an opportunity to build a top real estate program in the middle of some of the top real estate in the world.”

The creation of the endowed faculty chair and the appointment of Davis were formally approved July 16 by the Rutgers University Board of Governors, said Glenn Shafer, dean of Rutgers Business School. An investiture ceremony is scheduled on Sept. 23 in Newark.

The faculty chair was created last year with a $1.5 million commitment from Profeta, who owns a national real estate investment, management and leasing business that bears his name. His contribution was matched by an anonymous donor, who has pledged a total of $27 million to Rutgers University as part of an Endowed Chair Challenge in 2011.

The challenge, issued during the “Our Rutgers, Our Future Campaign, was intended to add 18 world class faculty members across the university.

"Professor Davis’s appointment advances the stature of Rutgers Business School and will contribute significantly to strengthening the connections between our students and the business community of New Jersey and the metropolitan region,” Shafer said. “We are very grateful to Paul Profeta and our anonymous donor for making this initiative possible.”

The endowed chair was also the catalyst for the formation of the Center for Real Estate Studies (or CRES as it is known familiarly) at Rutgers Business School. Ronald Shapiro, a veteran real estate and banking executive, has been serving as the center’s director since last summer.

Working with Shapiro, Davis will develop an undergraduate and MBA real estate program, forge connections with the industry and work to establish the Rutgers brand for real estate study. “That doesn’t happen overnight,” Davis said, “but with case competitions, through deep connections with the industry and by creating a pipeline to employment.”  

Professor Ivan Brick, who chaired the search committee that selected Davis, said the committee believed he was the “perfect candidate” because of his research impact in the field and his administrative experience as the director of the real estate center in Wisconsin.

Before he began teaching at Wisconsin in 2006, Davis worked at the Federal Reserve Board where he briefed Fed Chair Alan Greenspan on housing. He is widely known for his research – and often sought out by national media for his expertise – on fluctuations in housing prices.

Davis said research will remain important to him at Rutgers as it was in Wisconsin. But he also considers teaching, mentoring and industry outreach integral parts of his new role.

"There is a large amount of mentoring that a successful real estate program should have,” Davis said.

A native of Philadelphia, Davis said he and his wife, whose family is from New York, feel like they’re “coming home.”

He is scheduled to arrive at Rutgers Business School’s Newark Campus in late August and begin teaching real estate finance in the spring.