Marquette launching $1 million investment fund to give real estate students real-world experience

Andy Hunt, director of Marquette University's Center for Real Estate moderated a panel discussion at BizTimes' annual Commercial Real Estate and Development Conference.
Andy Hunt, director of Marquette University's Center for Real Estate moderated a panel discussion at BizTimes' annual Commercial Real Estate and Development Conference.

Marquette University is launching a new program that will give undergraduate students the opportunity to work with industry professionals on real estate deals across the country.

The Real Estate Asset Program, based in the College of Business Administration, will welcome its first cohort of 8 to 10 students in spring 2022.

Students will work with an investment committee of seasoned professionals to make equity investment recommendations in actual real estate and then manage the ongoing investor reporting on behalf of investors. The program will launch with a $1 million investment fund.

Marquette said it is the first classroom-based, student-run undergrad real estate investment program in the country.

The program will be available to real estate majors beginning in their junior year.

“Applied learning is the future of education in real estate, and Marquette is the first program in the nation offering this at the undergraduate level,” said Andy Hunt, director of the Center for Real Estate. “REAP’s applied learning model will further set Marquette’s real estate program apart from other undergraduate programs, leading to more successful graduates, more engaged alumni and more supportive industry partners.”

Vito Taphorn, instructor of practice in finance at Marquette, has been named director of the new program. He most recently was managing director at CIBC US, where he originated commercial real estate loan activity, managed customer relationships and monitored credit quality.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for Marquette students to pair with a group of investors and gain real world experience in the field of commercial real estate,” Taphorn said. “Working with an investment committee of industry professionals, we will be targeting a wide array of real estate assets, allowing students to engage in the process of pitching and evaluating deals, as well as managing investments.”

The program is backed by several Milwaukee-area real estate professionals, including Michelle Panovich of Mid-America Asset Management; Pat Biernacki of Millennial Residential, LLC; Trisha Connolly, of Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group; Steve Disse of Colliers International; Molly McShane of The McShane Companies; and John Petrovski of BMO Harris Bank; Christopher Hughes of Cypress Holdings; Walt Rebenson of Ascend Real Estate; and the Michael Klein Family and Robert Kuesel.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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