Kelley Bergstrom has been an active member of the Gator Nation since 1988, committing both time and money to the university – advancing the Gator Good.
In 2006, he created a $2.5 million endowment to support the Center for Real Estate Studies. The center, which was renamed after him, is now called the Kelley A. Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. It is located on the second floor of Bryan Hall.
“(Kelley) supports our program in the best way,” said Nikki Wagner, the center’s assistant director. “He provides the support not only financially but also in supporting the whole staff and faculty.”
The center has two main goals. The first is to foster education and information exchange among academics, students, researchers and industry professionals. The second is to provide an opportunity for students to connect with industry leaders.
To meet its second goal, the center created an advisory board compromised of 160 of the most successful and influential professionals in the real estate industry. Most advisory board members have over 20 years of experience in the field. They serve as donors, mentors, speakers and adjunct professors.
“The really great thing about our (board) is that these aren’t people who just have their name on the roster,” Wagner said. “You can’t be on our advisory board if you just want to give us money. You actually have to be willing to mentor students as well.”
Each year, students get to choose three mentors from the advisory board. According to Wagner in 2014, 45 percent of the graduating class received job offers from advisory board members.
“So, not only are they helping them and mentoring them and financially supporting them through their donations, but they’re also hiring them,” Wagner said.
This year, the board members donated money to help renovate the center. With their help, the center raised $500,000 for renovations. The new 2,100-square-foot space features a lobby, conference room, kitchen and several offices for staff.
While the space was primarily designed for students and staff members, anyone who has a real estate related question or inquiry is welcome to stop by.
“As a center, we are a hub of information and a great resource,” Wagner said. “There’s not a question we can’t answer.”
Besides offering academic and professional support, the center also hosts an annual conference that brings together industry professionals to discuss the future of real estate. This year, the Trends and Strategies Conference will be held February 25 and 26 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. All industry-related professionals are welcome to attend.
“We typically have about 450 attendees,” Wagner said. “We’d really like to get to 500 so that people can network, hear about our program and meet our students.”
To help the center meet its goal and learn more about the conference, visit: warrington.ufl.edu/centers/cres/.