UW-Madison to honor real estate pioneer Graaskamp

Real estate pioneer James A. Graaskamp will be honored on April 25 and 26 when the Center for Real Estate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is renamed in his memory.  Since 2005, almost 600 alumni and friends generated nearly $11 million in donations for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Real Estate to rename the Center. This support provides the critical resources to allow the Wisconsin Real Estate Program to remain competitive and to carry on the legacy of Jim Graaskamp.

A Milwaukee native, Graaskamp was stricken with polio at the age of 17. His perseverance in spite of disability was inspirational and had a profound personal and professional impact on many of his colleagues and students. He was a passionate teacher and left his mark on a generation of students who were rigorously trained and filled with his enthusiasm for improving the quality of our physical environment. Grasskamp is credited with converting the field from a traditional finance emphasis to an eclectic mix of classes in behaviorism, physical science, and business permanently in the halls of business schools everywhere.  

UW Real Estate alumni and friends from across the country will be in Madison to pay tribute to “The Chief” and discuss current trends in the industry. 



·         Recent Innovations and Macrotrends in the Real Estate Industry
Panelists will look into their crystal balls to predict how the world of real estate will look over the next ten years. What will happen to real estate prices?  What are the long-run implications of globalization for locating projects and for the types of products developed?  Is sustainable/green development a fad of a permanent change in our business?

·         Public to Private: The EOP-Blackstone Transaction
In the largest private equity buyout ever, Blackstone Real Estate Partners purchased Equity Office Properties in a transaction valued at approximately $36 billion. Panelists will address these questions: How did Blackstone prevail? Is this public to private move a long term trend? What are the implications of this mega transaction?

Roy March, (CEO, Eastdil Secured, Santa Monica, CA) was involved in advising Blackstone on the EOP, CARR and Trizec public and private transactions as well as the subsequent spin-off transactions. He has also been involved in the transaction sales of: The GM Building, Sears Tower, The Bank of America Building, Wyndham Hotels, Sardinia Resorts, etc.

·         Graaskamp on Wall Street

David Shulman, a former director and analyst at both Lehman and Salomon Bros., is now a visiting professor and scholar at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin’s real estate program, as well as a private consultant. Shulman will speak about Graaskamp’s stint as a consultant to Salomon Bros.



  • Stu Ackerberg, CEO, The Ackerberg Group, Minneapolis (B.S. 1979)
    Ackerberg, a Graaskamp student and prominent Uptown developer in Minneapolis, now building the futuristic “Mozaic” mixed-use development east of Lake Calhoun. 

  • Arun Bhatia, President and CEO, Arun Bhatia Development, New York City (M.S. 1974)
    Over the last 30 years Bhatia has developed some of Manhattan’s most successful high-rise luxury residential buildings and successfully rehabilitated a historic landmark in Philadelphia. Bhatia won “Project of the Year” from the National Association of Home Builders for a 41-story condominium at 500 West 43rd Street called the Strand.

  • Stephen Jarchow, a movie producer (“Gods and Monsters”) and real estate executive who in 1991 edited a definitive book on Graaskamp’s life and ideas, “Graaskamp on Real Estate” (B.B.A. 1974, M.S 1976)


The events include the inaugural presentation of the E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker Series in Real Estate Development. The event closes with a performance by “The Contractions,” featuring the center’s own Professor Morris Davis on bass and guitar. The group will perform at the King Club, 114 King Street; Thursday, April 26 at 9:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.