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VOL. 125 | NO. 94 | Friday, May 14, 2010

Endowment Emphasizes Sustainability

By Eric Smith

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The Fogelman name is synonymous with Memphis business and real estate.

Not only is it affixed to some of the most successful companies in town – Fogelman Management Group and Fogelman Investment Co. – the name also adorns the University of Memphis’ business school and its executive conference center.

“Real estate must become more sustainable. Today, not enough attention has been made on this issue.”

– Robert Fogelman II

That storied name’s legacy was further solidified this week thanks to the Fogelman Family Foundation’s $2 million gift to the U of M.

Robert Fogelman II, along with university, private and public officials, unveiled details of the gift at a Wednesday night press conference.

The family’s donation to the U of M’s Fogelman College of Business and Economics and Department of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate will create the Martha and Robert Fogelman Family Sustainable Real Estate Fund.

The money will make sustainable real estate a priority at the university by endowing a Chair of Excellence at the school, providing funds for an annual sustainable real estate conference and bringing additional coursework in the field for FCBE’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

Fogelman II, son of Martha and Bobby, called the issue “near and dear” to himself and his family because of their success in real estate.

Fogelman noted that the “built environment is the largest energy consumer in the U.S.” with real estate accounting for 39 percent of energy consumption and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

He also said he hopes the fund brings national and international attention to the idea of sustainability as well as to the U of M.

“Real estate must become more sustainable,” he said. “Today, not enough attention has been made on this issue.”

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. lauded the program because it addresses an ongoing question in today’s economy and environment: “Can we sustain what we’re doing?”

Sustainability is not just a “trendy buzz word,” he said. “Sustainability is more than just a concept, it’s a way of life. It has implications for our children and their children and their children. And that application cannot be overemphasized.”

One of the first achievements of the initiative will be selecting a Chair of Excellence in Sustainable Real Estate at the FCBE. The goal is to have that professor start in the fall.

This will be FCBE’s first new Chair of Excellence since the International Hotels Group Chair of Excellence was created in 2002.

And it is the second Chair of Excellence in real estate at the U of M following the Morris S. Fogelman Chair in Real Estate that is now held by Dr. Mark Sunderman, one of the Wednesday night speakers.

The press conference was attended by a host of leaders in real estate and academia. Speakers included U of M president Shirley Raines, finance, insurance and real estate chair Ron Spahr, the Urban Land Institute’s local chairman, Rusty Bloodworth, and FCBE dean Rajiv Grover.

The Martha and Robert Fogelman Family Sustainable Real Estate Fund comprises four main components related to the teaching and practice of sustainable real estate.

First, it will be integrated into existing graduate and undergraduate programs, including adding a new required graduate class and modifying real estate development classes to include real estate sustainability.

Second, the U of M will sponsor a real estate sustainability conference, drawing local and national speakers to share the latest trends and practices in the field.

Third, the university will “develop a series of semi-annual half-day workshops open to graduate students and professionals to explore methods of implementing sustainability and its potential impact on the Memphis region,” according to the release.

Fourth, the Fogelmans’ gift will provide funding for the Chair of Excellence, who will be expected to “interact with the Memphis area real estate community for the mutual benefit of the community and to better prepare real estate students for careers in the real estate industry.”

PROPERTY SALES 21 82 6,474
MORTGAGES 7 53 4,088
BUILDING PERMITS 240 353 15,714
BANKRUPTCIES 38 58 3,328