In 2010, two years after graduating from Marquette University’s real estate program, Andy Hunt received a call from his former professor and mentor, Dr. Mark Eppli.
Eppli needed an assistant director for the university’s Center for Real Estate. But more importantly, he wanted someone who would be the right fit for the business school.
“I think he used the words, ‘If I went on a five-hour car ride with this person, would I enjoy the ride?’”
Hunt spent the next four years at the center before moving to Denver with his wife and fellow Marquette alumnus, Catherine, to pursue their respective careers in real estate and as a physician assistant.
Hunt spent time working at Prologis, a publicly-traded real estate investment trust that owns several properties, including the Amazon.com Inc. distribution center in Kenosha. He was also a financial analyst with an investment group outside of Boulder.
But in the summer of 2017, the couple had their first child, daughter Adeline, and they were ready to come back to Milwaukee.
The timing was right. Eppli, professor of finance and Robert B. Bell Sr. Chair in Real Estate at Marquette University’s College of Business Administration, was looking for a director for the Center for Real Estate.
Hunt was still someone with whom people would want to spend five hours in a car.
He was hired in November 2017.
Eppli announced the following month he was leaving Marquette at the end of the 2017-‘18 academic year to take a teaching and research faculty position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he will join the faculty of the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate.
“That was a bummer,” Hunt said. “But the first time I came because of Mark. This time, I came back for a lot more. I have a chance to lead this program.”
Eppli said Hunt brings knowledge of the board, university, students and alumni to the job, as well as a dedication to everything he does.
“The year he graduated, he received the university-wide Senior Service Award – how’s that for dedication?” Eppli joked. “For a long time, I was the leader; but in my absence, Andy will become one.”
One of the first things on Hunt’s list is working with Dr. Brian Till, James H. Keyes Dean of Business Administration, and others on a national search for a new Bell Chair in Real Estate.
Marquette is hoping to have a new Bell Chair named in six to 18 months. Hunt said the transition will be smooth and the real estate program will remain one of the top in the country.
Marquette has been ranked among the top 10 undergraduate real estate programs by U.S. News & World Report for the past three years.
The cornerstones the real estate program is known for – community outreach, real-world experience and research – also will not be lost with Eppli’s departure, Hunt said.
Hunt and the new Bell Chair will continue to partner with Local Initiatives Support Corp. Milwaukee on the Associates in Commercial Real Estate program, which was created in 2005 at Marquette to train minorities for career paths in the commercial real estate industry.
“ACRE’s goal, at its core, is exactly what we are all about at Marquette – cura personalis, and being men and women for others,” Hunt said.
The real estate program is also adding to its academic team. Kevin Smith, retired senior managing director and head of Americas for Prudential Real Estate Investors, will begin teaching at Marquette in the fall.
“We are already on such incredibly strong footing and that is the strength we are leaving on,” Hunt said. “We are starting to find some tremendous (Bell Chair) candidates. We are in an incredibly strong place to find the next leader to continue what we are doing.”
In March, Marquette also kicked off an endowment specifically for its real estate program. The goal is to raise $6 million. The first $50,000 is being donated by Marquette’s real estate alumni association, REALM. Hunt and program alumni are soliciting corporate donations.
Marquette established its real estate major in 2004 and has about 300 alumni, all under the age of 35. The graduates have a 100 percent placement rate and an average salary of $57,000 per year, Hunt said.
“We are excited to seed and grow a sustainable endowment for our real estate program at Marquette,” said Andy Sinclair, president of REALM and vice president of private equity at MLG Capital. “These donations will allow the Center for Real Estate to fund the next chapter for our program.”