The FGCU Institute for Real Estate Development & Finance was established in the summer of 2003. Two primary factors motivated the establishment of the institute. The first factor was the important role that real estate development plays in the economy of Southwest Florida. The second motivating factor was the need expressed by participants in the development industry for a top quality graduate degree program that would prepare students for the challenges they will face as they advance in their careers in this highly competitive industry.
In the fall of 2003, an advisory committee composed of industry leaders from real estate development and related fields was formed to guide the development of the institute and the programs it will offer. Preliminary discussions with the advisory committee resulted in several significant conclusions. First, the establishment of a graduate degree program would add tremendous value to Southwest Florida. Second, because of the unique nature of the real estate development industry in Southwest Florida and the willingness of the leaders of various local firms to lend their expertise to our academic programs, we have an opportunity to build a program of nationally recognized quality. Finally, while the establishment of such programs requires tremendous investment of time and money, the returns to future students, their potential employers, and the region fully justify this investment.
The institute has a total permanent endowment of $4,000,000. In December 2003, David and Linda Lucas donated $2,000,000 to endow the institute. These funds are matched by the State of Florida. In recognition of the extremely generous gift the institute was renamed the Lucas Institute for Real Estate Development & Finance.
In the spring of 2004, plans were developed to establish a graduate program in real estate development using the executive MBA format. The real estate specific portions of the curriculum are currently being developed with the assistance of the advisory council and the College of Business Graduate Programs Committee. It is anticipated that the first class of Real Estate Development EMBA's will begin coursework in the fall of 2005.