Childress Klein, the Charlotte-based commercial real estate developer, donated $2.5 million on Wednesday to UNC Charlotte’s Center for Real Estate to endow a professorship and provide funds for faculty fellowships and master’s degree training programs.
With matching state funds anticipated for the professorship, the gift’s total impact will be $3.2 million, Chancellor Phil Dubois announced at UNCC’s Center City Building in uptown.
The $2.5 million gift is the largest in the history of UNCC’s Center for Real Estate.
Dubois said the gift, the largest single donation in the real estate center’s history and one of the largest to UNCC, will have “a transformational impact.”
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The center will be renamed the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate.
Dubois was joined by UNCC Belk College of Business Dean Steven Ott, a former director of the real estate center, and the developer’s senior managing partners Don Childress and Fred Klein. Klein was recently named a university trustee.
Klein called the center an example of how an industry can support education and research, “which in turn provides talent, ideas and expertise directly back to the industry.”
“One of the core values of our company is to give back to the community,” Klein said, as he praised the importance of UNCC to the area. He said he hoped the donation will inspire others in the real estate business to donate as well.
In fact, Ott said, an informal effort is underway to raise money to match the Childress Klein gift. Donations for that effort came in as recently as Wednesday morning, and have totaled $4 million, including the Childress Klein gift.
The center was established 10 years ago to expand the knowledge of real estate, public policy and urban economics in the region through teaching, research and community outreach.
In 2011, it started a master of science in real estate, a master of business administration concentration, and certificate programs in real estate finance and development.
UNCC launched the center to meet demands of the real estate and financial services industries in Charlotte. Real estate is one of the region’s largest employers and most profitable industries.
The curriculum is designed to prepare students for jobs in appraisal, brokerage, lending, consulting, market research, development, financial analysis and capital markets.
Childress Klein, which for 35 years has developed more than 42 million square feet of office, industrial, retail and residential properties throughout the Southeast, follows other private corporations and businesses that have invested heavily in programs at UNCC.