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The Value of “Real Estate” at Lehigh University Is on the Rise...

...with a Commitment from The Holliday Foundation to Advance Lehigh’s Real Estate Program ire@l.

One of New York City’s top commercial real estate leaders, Marc Holliday ’88, is always exploring ways to take commercial real estate ventures to the next level. Now, Holliday, who is the CEO of SL Green Realty Corp., has focused on Lehigh to advance the upward trajectory of real estate.

Through The Holliday Foundation that Marc and his wife, Sheree, created for charitable causes, the couple has provided a generous $5 million gift to enhance the Integrated Real Estate at Lehigh (ire@l) program within the College of Business and Economics.

The $5 million gift is comprised of two components. The Foundation’s initial gift of $3.5 million will further elevate this impressive minor by establishing The Marc Holliday ’88 Professor of Practice and Director of the ire@l Program.

In addition to the $3.5 million gift, The Holliday Foundation has made $1.5 million available as a matching gift challenge to support the new Marc Holliday ire@l Operating Endowment Fund.

This challenge seeks engagement and commitment from other alumni and friends on a “two dollars for one” basis, with the potential to raise an additional $3 million in matching gifts for the endowment fund. If the $1.5 million matching challenge succeeds in attracting another $3 million, then The Holliday Foundation’s overall $5 million gift will have raised a total of $8 million in support of the ire@l program.

The impact of this support will be felt for generations, influencing our faculty and students. The new endowed position will allow Lehigh to attract and retain a highly accomplished real estate professional to direct the ire@l program and to teach from experience. This position is critical for the long-term sustainability of the educational program while the operating endowment fund bolsters the student experience. With the challenge gift funding, the director would be able to create a state-of-the-art industry program to draw students across the university, garner national recognition, and set the standard for undergraduate real estate education in the United States.

Holliday said, “I received an outstanding education at Lehigh, which is one of the nation’s great universities. It was the initial foundation for my professional success. The purpose of this gift is to recognize that and to enhance a program that will produce future business leaders. I hope alumni and others in the real estate industry will join me in this supportive endeavor.”

One of the driving forces behind this initiative has been Tara Stacom, executive vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, who also started the Stacom Family Speaker Series for this program. “This commitment will allow Lehigh to immeasurably add to the real estate talent pool, and we are deeply grateful for Marc’s foresight and support,” said Stacom.

The ire@l academic minor is the only one in the United States that allows any Lehigh undergraduate to minor in real estate—regardless of their major. Because students custom-make their own academic pairings with ire@l, the combination of their unique backgrounds and academic paths makes this a true cross-boundary experience that emulates the industry’s everyday collaboration of diverse professionals. According to Stephen Thode, director of the Murray H. Goodman Center for Real Estate Studies, “This is what sets Lehigh’s program apart from the rest.”

Thode explained that the ire@l program maximizes outside-of-the-classroom experiences with students spending more than 50 percent of their time learning from industry professionals in practicums, internships, field laboratories, or completing community service. The new director will be the main connection with the real estate community, cultivating and nurturing relationships to further develop student outreach. Finding new summer internship opportunities, scheduling guest speakers, procuring professional mentors, and helping graduates with job placement will be among the new director’s responsibilities.

“Real estate is a relationship business. To achieve the level of cooperation and support that we are going to need long-term, the director is going to have to spend a fair amount of time building and sustaining relationships,” said Thode, who taught Holliday as an undergraduate.

This gift sets the stage to build a more robust program. The “to do” list includes developing signature learning spaces in the Rauch Business Center, increasing the program’s profile, and establishing an international real estate component with study abroad internships. The impact will span well beyond the classroom to maximize student collaboration. First-hand experience will be gained through projects in adaptive reuse and land redevelopment in areas such as South Bethlehem and the two former Bethlehem Steel research facilities on Lehigh’s Mountaintop campus.

“Marc Holliday has succeeded in a very competitive industry and is bringing his success back to Lehigh,” said President Alice P. Gast. “He has helped undergraduates in the ire@l program by personally sharing his expertise, offering case studies of New York commercial properties to our students, and hiring our graduates. Marc’s gift and matching challenge will enhance ire@l and student experience even further. His leadership, and that of other forward-thinking alumni, raises the standards of excellence at Lehigh.”

Graduates of Lehigh’s ire@l program are already succeeding in top New York real estate firms such as Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE, and Holliday’s SL Green Realty Corporation. One hundred and fourteen students have become alumni of the extensive three- to four-year program since the first graduating class in 2009, with many more on the way.

“Employers have seen what our graduates can do when hired, and these employees are coming back to hire more,” said Thode.
Photo by John Kish IV
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Marc Holliday ’88, CEO of SL Green Realty Corporation, was the guest presenter at the 2012 Stacom Family ire@l Speaker Series lecture on campus and told students that they were getting an incredible head start by attending Lehigh.

To discuss participating as a donor to match Marc Holliday’s challenge, please contact Jim Mann, CBE director of Development, at (610) 758-5689 or

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