White Ruffin Byron Center for Real Estate: A Letter from Center Leadership

White Ruffin Byron Center for Real Estate leadership offers a fall 2023 update.

Robertson Hall

Dear UVA Real Estate Community,

We are delighted to open this semester’s newsletter with exciting news: The UVA Board of Visitors has officially recognized the naming of the White Ruffin Byron Center for Real Estate, an evolution of the UVA Center for Real Estate and the Built Environment, established in 2021. The new Center name arrives with news of a generous $2.5 million gift establishing the Robert and Cheryl Byron Endowment, an investment that has propelled the Center past its $20 million endowment goal. The Center’s new name acknowledges the instrumental dedication and support of three of our three leading donors: Robert M. White Jr. (McIntire ’87), the Ruffin Foundation, and Robert G. Byron (A&S ’73, Law ’76).  This summer, we also published our first Annual Report, recapping our accomplishments and activities from the academic year 2022-2023.

Are you joining us at the Darden School of Business on Nov. 10 for the Center for Real Estate’s 2023 Conference? This year’s event on Cities and Society will bring together UVA alumni, students, faculty, and industry partners to explore the financial, political, policy, design, environmental, and endless other connections in urban areas that shape and impact our lives. UVA President Jim Ryan will give our welcoming remarks and introduce keynote speaker Melody Barnes, Executive Director of the UVA Karsh Institute of Democracy. We invite you to review our detailed agenda and featured speakers on the conference website and register today!

Center Updates

In June, the Center hosted an alumni reception at the Savoy Club in the GM Building in New York City, courtesy of Owen Thomas (Engineering ’83), Chairman and CEO of BXP and a member of the Center’s Advisory Board. During the event, Mr. Thomas shared insights into the history of the GM Building, and Andrés Clarens, Professor at the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science and Associate Director of the Environmental Institute, gave a presentation on “reinventing cement.” His team’s groundbreaking new technology, supported in part by a Center seed grant, is moving towards commercialization (read more about the Seed Grant program below). We also presented the Center’s inaugural George A. Overstreet Outstanding Student Awards to Erik Smith (Darden ’23) and Hannah Yi (McIntire ’23) during the reception. Both Erik and Hannah were leaders in their respective real estate clubs at UVA and significantly contributed to the mission and success of the Center in its infancy.

Student Engagement & Training

We’ve begun capturing photos and highlights at all our Center-sponsored student engagement events and posting recaps on our website. So far this semester, we’ve hosted an information session for UVA students with the Urban Land Institute, a two-day ARGUS training program, and a hands-on financial modeling event with ASB Real Estate Investments. The Center’s Professional Speaker Series will feature presentations from DPR Construction and Jocassee Quantitative this semester. The Virginia Undergraduate Real Estate Club (VUREC) and the Darden Real Estate Club, along with other student volunteers, have played a key role in promoting and supporting these events.

Student Real Estate Trek Preview

The Center for Real Estate and the Darden School’s Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management are partnering to host a two-day student trek to the DC area later this month, on Oct. 26-27. Nearly 30 UVA undergraduate and graduate students will tour the offices and select building projects with BXP, Carlyle, Eastdil Secured, and Greystar. On the evening of Oct. 26, the Center will host a networking reception for students and real estate alumni in the DC area, at Sands Family Grounds in Rosslyn. These treks present an incredible opportunity for students to expand their professional networks and for alumni to engage with students from across UVA. Kindly RSVP here if you’ll join us for the reception.

Dean’s Opp Fund Grant with Batten/College

We are thrilled to share that the Center, in partnership with faculty from the McIntire School of Commerce’s Center for Investors and Financial Markets, the College of Arts & Sciences’ Environmental Inequality Lab, and the Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy, won a $750,000 grant from the University in May. The grant will fund two initiatives housed in the newly established Household and Urban Finance Lab at UVA: 1) a library of housing and household data that will be available to all University faculty and 2) a pre-doctoral program that will support the creation of a detailed data product with the U.S. Census on households and environmental outcomes. Together, these initiatives will allow faculty to explore environmental and household-oriented research questions, a space where the University has significant interest (UVA Environmental Resilience and Sustainability Grand Challenge) and faculty depth. The Center is proud to facilitate partnerships creating access to resources that enhance institutional strategic plan-oriented discovery efforts across Grounds.

Seed Grants: A 2022-2023 Recap

The aim of the Center’s Seed Grant program, open to both individual researchers and teams, is to support research at UVA that produces or provides the foundation for high-quality journal manuscripts, books, federal (or foundation) grant proposals, or doctoral dissertations. All projects must focus on real estate or directly relate to the built environment. Proposals are evaluated by multidisciplinary teams of UVA faculty and leading industry experts from the Center’s Advisory Board. In some cases, proposals seeking co-funding will be co-evaluated by faculty and staff at other appropriate UVA funding entities (e.g., departments, UVA’s Environmental Institute, the Jefferson Trust). During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Center funded $100,000 towards projects at the School of Architecture, the School of Engineering, and several departments within the College of Arts & Sciences. You can find abstracts on each funded project and information about the faculty grant recipients in the Center’s first Annual Report.

Finally, we are pleased to introduce Gretchen Ingram, who has joined the Center as our first dedicated Assistant Director, bringing a wealth of experience, with an M.A. in Nonprofit Leadership and a decade of experience working in the nonprofit sector. Gretchen looks forward to supporting the Center for Real Estate as we grow our engagement with students, faculty, alumni, and partners from the UVA community.

Thank you for making our first two years such an incredible period of growth and success. Your support of the Center enables us to design and deliver innovative programming for UVA students, alumni, industry partners, and faculty. We hope to see you at our conference next month.


Mike Gallmeyer
Consumer Bankers Association Eminent Professor of Commerce
Director, Center for Investors and Financial Markets
Interim Faculty Director, White Ruffin Byron Center for Real Estate

Keven Lindemann
Executive-in-Residence, White Ruffin Byron Center for Real Estate

Find out about all the exciting things happening in the McIntire community. Visit our news page for the latest updates.

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