$30 million gift from Paul Rubacha ’72, MBA ’73, will create an innovative, multi-college real estate department, bringing together partners from academia and industry, and building on Cornell’s strengths in engaged learning and impact-oriented scholarships to increase opportunities for students and advance the field.

The Cornell Board of Trustees voted May 26 to approve the Paul Rubacha Real Estate Department, which will be managed between the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

“I am deeply grateful to Paul for his support, which allows us to strengthen Cornell’s academic distinction in so many exciting ways,” said President Martha E. Pollack. “The Paul Rubacha Real Estate Department will open up tremendous new possibilities for our faculty and students: enabling new collaborations across disciplines, with industry practitioners, and between programs in Ithaca and New York.”

The new department will expand and enhance a program that integrates finance, development and the built environment in an unprecedented way.

“The formal combination of these disciplines will create a thoughtful real estate education unlike any other program in the country – one that is as design and development focused as it is balance sheet focused,” said Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff. “Combining the expertise of faculty and staff from SC Johnson College of Business and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning will elevate Cornell’s existing lineup of real estate education, research and outreach. “

Rubacha, partner and co-founder of Ashley Capital, one of the largest private industrial real estate investment firms in the United States, credited the late John Reps, MRP ’47, professor emeritus and former chairman of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, having set him on the path to success in real estate. He hopes his gift will catalyze similar success for generations of students to come.

“This is an opportunity for me to say thank you to the university for so much of what it has done for me, professionally and personally,” he said. “And I hope that by doing this, it will further strengthen the real estate education program at the university and provide similar opportunities for dozens of other students in the future.”

Rubacha’s donation will allow Cornellians to explore new avenues of research and positively impact the field of real estate and its related disciplines, said Meejin Yoon ’95, Dean Gale and Ira Drukier of the PAA.

“This joint initiative in real estate education at Cornell will further delve into critical areas of expertise in the built environment,” Yoon said. “Creating a joint department that brings together real estate finance and real estate development will provide invaluable opportunities for students as they become leaders in the field and help shape our cities and communities.

The Baker Program in Real Estate, already jointly administered by SC Johnson College and AAP, will serve as the new department’s primary professional master’s program. Over time, the department will add academic offerings, including a research-oriented masters/PhD. program, as well as collaborations with Cornell Colleges in Ithaca and New York.

“The new department will ensure that Cornell provides the richest possible applied education and opportunities for students across campus,” said Andrew Karolyi, Dean Charles Field Knight of SC Johnson College. “It will provide expanded industry and alumni engagement, encourage innovative collaborations, and advance the broader field and future of real estate programs and activities at Cornell.”

The new department will drive faculty recruitment around iconic themes and emerging priorities, leading to interdisciplinary ideas, research and networks and more adaptive programs that respond to emerging industry needs and student interests, have said the administrators.

It will be add dedicated core department faculty, in addition to the 22 faculty who currently dedicate part of their teaching time to the Baker program, as well as practice faculty and other nontenured faculty in Ithaca and New York.

Rubacha’s donation includes $25 million for the establishment of the department and $5 million to inspire others to contribute through a matching fund challenge.

“I was lucky that Cornell gave me wonderful opportunities while I was a student,” he said. “And even after graduation, these wonderful opportunities to participate in university activities and enjoy what the university has to offer continued.”