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Real Estate Society Offers Opportunities for Alumni

As students begin earning credits toward the real estate option in the new Smeal College of Business Risk Management major, Penn State alumni who work in the real estate industry are finding fresh ways to network and support the college through the new Smeal Real Estate Society.
October 14, 2011

As students begin earning credits toward the real estate option in the new Smeal College of Business Risk Management major, Penn State alumni who work in the real estate industry are finding fresh ways to network and support the college through the new Smeal Real Estate Society.

The Real Estate Society emerged from an effort begun more than four years ago when James B. Thomas, the John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal, brought together a group of highly successful Penn State alumni working in various segments of the real estate industry. He wanted to gain an industry-based perspective on the best ways to prepare students who will enter the multifaceted real estate field of the 21st century. The group became known as Smeal’s Real Estate Advisory Board, and it played a key role in development of the real estate option within the new Risk Management major.

The board also sponsors the work of the college’s internationally known Institute for Real Estate Studies (IRES), which was formed in 1985 to foster discussion between academicians and business professionals in the area of real estate. Now, IRES and the Real Estate Advisory Board aim to broaden the scope of participation even further by including all Smeal and Penn State graduates who are working in the field through the Real Estate Society (RES).

Led by alumni volunteers Lawrence Colorito ’88 and Edouard Cuilhe ’03, the society’s activities are aimed at fostering the development of all Penn State graduates who are real estate professionals as well as current students. Colorito, who owns a Chesapeake, Va., based appraisal and consulting business, welcomes the chance to be more closely involved with the college and the Penn State real estate community.

“The new Real Estate Society gives Penn State alums who practice in real estate a home back in State College. This is an opportunity for me to give back to the school I love and see some direct impact to the students while networking with others in my business,” Colorito said.

To join RES, alumni are asked to make a gift of $100 or more to support real estate education. Gifts can be made online at

Through RES, alumni and friends of the college will find:

  • Networking opportunities via LinkedIn and SmealConnect, the college’s social networking site;
  • Invitation to the annual Real Estate Tailgate, organized in conjunction with the Real Estate Advisory Board on a fall football weekend;
  • Invitations to regional Real Estate Society events featuring Smeal faculty members and other guest speakers. The first regional networking event will be held Thursday, Nov. 10, in New York City (more details will be forthcoming and posted on the IRES website);
  • Access via podcasts to the department’s speakers on timely and relevant real estate issues;
  • Mentoring opportunities with current students;
  • Subscription to the Smeal Real Estate Society newsletter.

All gifts to Penn State in a given academic year count toward membership in Penn State’s President’s Club, which honors donors for their annual giving to the University. Total contributions of $2,500 per year (or $1,500 per year for alumni age 35 or younger) or more will qualify the donor for membership. So, gifts to RES can either qualify the donor for President’s Club membership outright or add to a donor’s cumulative total for the year.

“The time has come to form a venue that brings together a wide range of alumni who are practicing in the various real estate disciplines in a way that benefits them and supports today’s students,” said Brent Ambrose, Smeal Professor of Real Estate and IRES director. “By creating networking opportunities and providing tangible professional resources, and by promoting philanthropic giving in support of our programs, our hope is to make the Real Estate Society valuable for alumni and students.”

For more information about the Real Estate Society, contact Richard Button, assistant director of the Institute for Real Estate Studies, at or 814-865-5670.

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