Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Inside billionaire John Goff's biggest single donation to create the top real estate program

Billionaire John Goff has made his single biggest gift ever with a $6 million donation to the University of Texas' McCombs School of Business in Austin, which he hopes will help create the top real estate program in the United States.

With the additional funds, the business school hopes to tap a tenured professor or someone with the research chops to bring thought leadership to the program and help it grow into the future.
"They have a great program to start with and this will really put them over the top as the No. 1 real estate program in the country," Goff, chairman and CEO of Crescent Real Estate Holdings in Fort Worth, told the Dallas Business Journal.

"We want to bring in someone not unlike a Kenneth Rosen of Berkeley or someone of that ilk of world-class talent to bring experiential learning to the program of how to manage and invest capital in the public real estate market or private transactions," said Goff, who is also managing principal of Fort Worth-based Goff Capital.

UT's real estate program has about 250 actively engaged alumni engaged in the Real Estate Finance and Investment Center, which gives students the opportunity to oversee public and private real estate funds. The donation further helps students engage in some transactions and put the capital to work on various deals.

"That is very unique and I don't know of another school that has it — not to this size level," said Goff, adding he is bringing in other investors to match his gift to make it a growing investment for the school.

Goff's gift to the McCombs School of Business will catapult the school's real estate program even further into among the world's elite, said Jay Hartzell, dean of the school.

"We will be second to none in our ability to provide experiential learning for our undergraduate and graduate students, complementing the analytical foundation we've always given them," Hartzell added.

In spring 2015, Goff was given a feasibility study by a group of real estate finance MBA candidates to pitch the fund. Hartzell, who has a background in real estate finance, accompanied the students to pitch the longtime North Texas real estate developer directly.

"It was very well thought out and put together for a good presentation," Goff told me. "Jay Hartzell, the new dean, has a real passion for real estate that will really make sure the money is going to a good use. His aspiration of the program is similar to mine.

"We have great students coming out of the program and this will help dial it up a bit more," he added.

Candace Carlisle/Dallas Business Journal.