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Philadelphia’s Drexel University has announced plans to establish the Wilbur C. Henderson Real Estate Institute in the Bennett S. LeBow College of Business.

The institute will serve as a center for research, teaching and outreach that connects industry leaders with Drexel’s faculty and students, with the goal of bringing together theory and practice to establish a modern vision of a real estate industry. Among the issues that the institute will address are the impact of hybrid work, supply chain disruptions, urban real estate challenges, regulatory uncertainty, climate change and sustainability, energy, affordable housing and technology.

The creation of the institute is being financed with a $10 million gift from the Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation. According to the university, the gift honors the legacy of Wilbur C. Henderson Jr., a 1947 alumnus, former Drexel trustee, World War II veteran, community leader and influential real estate developer in the Greater Philadelphia region.

The Henderson Foundation’s gift will also create new learning opportunities, including the establishment of a fund for Drexel students to engage directly in the analysis and management of property investment and development, including co-investing with the university and its partners, and a seed fund to jumpstart projects in the real estate field. In addition, the institute will host case competitions, panel discussions and networking events, and provide resources for students to obtain professional certifications and career counseling.

“We are deeply grateful to the Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation for this generous and transformational gift,” said Drexel President John Fry. “It will not only ensure that Drexel will prepare the next generation of civically minded real estate practitioners and leaders who promote cultural, economic and environmental health in their communities, but also will increase our university’s capacity and thought leadership to advance equitable development in our cities.”

Drexel will launch a national search to recruit a director for the institute, in anticipation of its formal opening in 2024.

Photograph courtesy of Drexel University’s Facebook page