When Robert M. White Jr. made a $3 million gift to create the Robert M. White Jr. Bicentennial Professorship in Real Estate Finance in 2019, the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce’s real estate curriculum received a major burst of energy. Last fall, Andrew R. Sanderford became the inaugural chairholder, with a charge to expand the school’s real estate initiative across Grounds.
With an additional $2 million match from the University’s Bicentennial Professors Fund, White’s gift now provides $5 million in faculty support for initiatives in real estate finance, a growing field of study driving curriculum development at McIntire and across UVA.
White, a 1987 McIntire School graduate, is the president of New York-based Real Capital Analytics Inc., a leading authority on the people and trends that drive the commercial real estate investment markets. Prompted by a desire to see the University strengthen its coursework with a more formal interdisciplinary program specific to his area of expertise, White instituted the professorship with a leadership-level gift. He believes the diversity of experiences of many of his fellow alumni who have garnered success in the field can help to make a critical difference in both supporting and informing future programmatic development.
“My hope is that the McIntire School will use this gift to further expand its real estate curriculum and potentially offer classes to a broader audience within the University,” White said. “Real estate investment and development require knowledge of multiple disciplines, and McIntire students are so successful in the industry because of the well-rounded business education they get. Prospective architects, urban planners, economists, lawyers and many others could benefit from these classes, too, just as McIntire real estate students could benefit from classes in some of these other disciplines.”
White is enthusiastic about emerging educational opportunities in the field and the potential for a collaborative pan-University academic program hosted by the McIntire School. With the appointment of Sanderford, a 2005 graduate of UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences and a 2010 graduate of the School of Architecture, to the professorship, McIntire has taken the first step toward applying White’s gift toward attracting and retaining world-class real estate faculty and staff around any newly launched or expanded curriculum.
Sanderford specializes in real estate development and finance, both in commercial and residential real estate. His current work explores questions related to urban spatial structure and its relationship to real estate asset pricing. He has previously led classes for master’s students in real estate development, real estate finance and housing.
“I am humbled and grateful to be the first steward of this chair,” Sanderford said. “This is a reflection of a brilliant donor and the immense potential here at UVA. It’s terribly exciting.”
Sanderford noted that the gift enables McIntire to expand its existing real estate curriculum, created by George Overstreet, the Walker Professor of Growth Enterprises. McIntire is currently partnering with the schools of Architecture and Engineering, with guidance from a group of alumni, to develop a proposal for an interdisciplinary minor in real estate.
If approved, the minor will engage students and instructors from across Grounds as well as University alumni. At its core, the minor will ground students in the fundamentals of real estate analysis and, through electives, will offer them different ways to explore their related interests.
The gift will also catalyze innovation in research and engagement through the Center for Investors and Financial Markets, Sanderford said. “McIntire faculty are working with students, alumni, researchers and all types of market participants on a number of initiatives at the center that will lay the foundation for collaborative research across Grounds and beyond,” Sanderford added. “As we strive to be both good and great in all we do, the faculty are excited to engage questions that are meaningful to science, society and the planet.”
Prior to joining the McIntire faculty, Sanderford was on the faculty at the University of Arizona, where he was the faculty chair of the Real Estate Development program. His research is published in academic and professional journals, including Building Research and Information; The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics; Housing Policy Debate; and Appraisal Journal. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Real Estate Research Institute. He serves on the board of the American Real Estate Society and on the editorial boards of Journal of Real Estate Literature and The Journal of Sustainable Real Estate.
For his part, White believes that his finance studies at the McIntire School helped him to pursue his lifelong interest in property while preparing him to excel in his career tracking capital markets for commercial property around the world.
“From an early age, I always knew I wanted to be in real estate,” he said. “McIntire provided the skills and the opportunity to pursue a real estate career on Wall Street and the lens to view real estate as any other financial marketplace. My education in finance has been invaluable to my career of bringing Wall Street insights and analysis to the real estate markets.”
White founded Real Capital Analytics Inc. in 2000 to bring greater transparency to the investment markets by providing real-time data of capital flows and prices of commercial properties. A noted authority on real estate capital markets, White has written numerous articles for industry publications and the firm’s own Capital Trends publications. He is a Counselor of Real Estate, a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and a fellow of the Homer Hoyt Institute. He serves on the board of directors for the Pension Real Estate Association and the advisory board for the Real Estate Research Institution. Before founding RCA, White spent 14 years in the real estate investment banking and brokerage industry.