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"We're doing something right … and someone in the industry has recognized that"

Ko Wang, the R. Clayton Emory Chair in Real Estate and Infrastructure, shares how the Carey Business School’s first philanthropically funded professorship has primed the program for further excellence
Posted January 11, 2017

The Carey Business School's Real Estate and Infrastructure Program has grown to become the largest academic training program of its kind. But to maintain its reputation for excellence in a post-Great Recession environment, the program needed a leader with both impressive credentials and a clear vision for the industry's future. Carey found that leader in Ko Wang, who recently was named the inaugural R. Clayton Emory Chair in Real Estate and Infrastructure.

"Ko was absolutely the right person to steer this program," says Christopher Murray, MBA (Bus '05), a managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle and president of Carey's Real Estate Alumni Forum. "His national and international reputation, and his deep ties to the industry, ensure that our graduates are the kind the real estate and infrastructure business needs."

A generous gift from 1956 Krieger School alumnus Clay Emory, a successful real estate developer and longtime advisor to the Real Estate and Infrastructure Program, endowed the position — the first philanthropically funded professorship in Carey's history. Emory, a recipient of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association's Heritage Award, made the gift with one goal in mind: to further support Carey's commitment to advancing real estate education. Wang, also the executive director of the Edward St. John Real Estate Program, shared thoughts on how he plans to take on that mission as the Emory Chair with Rising

What attracted you to Carey and to this program?

We offer a master of science program — a traditional academic discipline — and an MBA. An MS program alone may not provide enough tactical business training for some, while an MBA alone may not have the academic rigor others prefer. Having both degrees allows us to offer a diversity of courses that can reach different audiences. That's attractive to students, because it increases their marketability in our industry. At this stage of my career, this is the kind of program I wanted to lead.

Why is academic rigor a particular asset for a business school program?

In the 1970s and 1980s, when we talked about real estate, we mainly talked about development. But the industry changed as it matured. You can't just keep developing. Sooner or later, you’re going to get stuck. From there, financing, investment, and management become important. Many in our industry need to gain new knowledge and re-establish context for their work. Carey provides a good platform for this.

Why has engaging alumni and re-energizing the Real Estate Alumni Forum been an emphasis for you?

The first part is that real estate is a vertical industry. If a student graduates with a degree in a field like finance, accounting, or marketing, they can go into a whole host of industries. But real estate graduates generally end up in one industry. The skills students learn — and we teach — in this program are all in the service of that industry, so being current on its practices and trends is necessary. Our alumni advisers are a big part of helping us achieve that.

The second part, of course, is that alumni provide resources to our students. They teach students about their experiences, the kind of career paths they can take, and offer them jobs after they graduate. I am supporting the Real Estate Alumni Forum's plans to host a symposium next year that will engage alumni with one another, with students, and with our industry advisory board. Hopefully, at the end of the line, our alumni will then donate to the program. We have many who already are prepared to do so.

Why is the support of someone like Clay Emory critical for this program?

The top people in the real estate and infrastructure industry have an interest in keeping it strong. They know they need to groom new leaders who have the best training. To have someone like Clay Emory investing in our program is a vote of confidence. We're doing something right here, and someone in the industry has recognized that. With that, others will follow.