This is an archived article.

January 13, 2000

Runstads give $1 million to UW real estate program

News and Information

Jon and Judy Runstad have pledged $1 million to establish the H. Jon and Judith M. Runstad Endowment for Excellence in Real Estate at the University of Washington. Income from the endowment will support a comprehensive new real estate program in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Through a state matching-fund program, the Runstad gift has generated an additional $250,000 for the university, bringing the total value of their gift to $1.25 million. Income from the matching funds and a portion of the Runstad endowment will be used to create the Runstad Professorship in Real Estate.

“Commercial real estate, a major driver of the economy in the Pacific Northwest, has experienced an upheaval during the last decade,” said Robert Filley, director of the UW’s Center for Community Development and Real Estate.

“Among other things, wide swings in supply and demand and changes in regulatory and public policies have jolted the field. The time is right for the university to develop a program of education and research that focuses on regional market conditions and issues, and that can help the industry deal with the changing needs of their communities.”

Both Runstads are active commercial real estate figures, he as co-founder of Wright Runstad & Company, developer and manager of large-scale, high-quality urban and suburban office buildings in the Western United States, and she as a well-known land-use, environmental and development attorney with Foster Pepper & Shefelman.

The Runstads are both graduates of the university, where he served as regent from 1987 to 1998. He received degrees in construction management and in economics prior to earning a master’s of business administration from Harvard Business School. She obtained a juris doctorate from the school of law.

The Runstad gift represents a major boost to the campaign to establish an endowment for the real estate program, a drive that is more than two-thirds of the way to its $3 million goal, Filley said. Re-establishing a real estate program after an absence of about 25 years wouldn’t be possible without active industry participation, he said. Such partnerships are at the core of all recognized university programs across the nation.

The real estate program will be multi-disciplinary, drawing on present UW strengths in law, construction, finance, planning, architecture, geography and public affairs, as well as bringing leading real estate scholars to the university. Many commercial real estate-related fields are short staffed following industry-wide downsizing that occurred during the 1990s, and one goal of the program is to graduate 20 new professionals a year.

Another goal is to generate needed research and information. An example is a recently released database of office space for lease in the Puget Sound area – the most comprehensive database ever – that was compiled by the UW and the Commercial Brokers Association. The database of office properties, which went on line in December at http://www.cbalease.com/, can be used by the 2,000 members of the Commercial Brokers Association and by UW faculty and students conducting research to aid regional policy makers.

In recognition of the importance of their commitment and active guidance building this program at the University of Washington, the new real estate center will be named the “Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.”

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For more information:
Robert Filley, director, Center for Community Development and Real Estate
UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning
(206) 616-2090, filleyrb@u.washington.edu