Drexel Gets $10 Million for New Real Estate Institute

A $10 million gift to Drexel University's LeBow College of Business will go toward establishing a new real estate institute to serve as a "hub of research, teaching and outreach."
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Published on September 19, 2023
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  • Drexel University will launch a new real estate institute in 2024.
  • The Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation gave $10 million to Drexel to establish the institute, which will be named in honor of Philadelphia developer and Drexel alum Wilbur C. Henderson.
  • Drexel President John Fry said the new institute will be a hub of thought leadership for the industry.
  • The institute will feature collaborations between Drexel students and faculty and industry experts to tackle topics like climate change and big data as they relate to real estate.

A new real estate institute is coming to the Drexel University LeBow College of Business thanks to a $10 million gift, school officials announced Sept. 13.

The Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation gave $10 million to Drexel to set up the new real estate institute, which will serve as "a hub of research, teaching and outreach" that brings together industry experts with LeBow students and faculty, according to a press release.

The school will formally open in 2024, and Drexel plans to launch a national search for its director.

Drexel President John Fry described the gift as "transformational" in the release, and touted the new Wilbur C. Henderson Real Estate Institute as a center of thought leadership for the industry.

"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," Fry said.

The Henderson Foundation previously helped Drexel launch undergraduate majors in real estate management and development. The new institute will support those majors, according to the release, and will also set up new programs for students.

LeBow College of Business Dean Vibhas Madan said the new institute's impact will extend beyond the classroom. Madan said the collaboration between industry and academic experts will tackle everything from climate change to automation and big data.

"Drexel is proud of the role it has played in recent years as a leader in business education and community engagement in Philadelphia," Madan said in the release. "Our advocacy, partnership-building and stewardship has created a pathway for support to reach our West Philadelphia community, which has already resulted in improved funding for schools and small businesses."

That institute will also include student participation in "community enhancement projects" in West Philadelphia, according to the release.

Drexel isn't the only university to receive a gift toward real estate education this year.

Tulane University received a $1 million donation to create a real estate certificate program at its A.B. Freeman School of Business earlier this year. That certificate program will emphasize data analytics, hands-on training, and finance.