F.I.R.E. Launch | March 7, 2016
Thank you, Dean Mast, for the kind words. I would also like to thank you, Provost Freedman and Rose McSween for inviting me here tonight for this exciting milestone event for Fordham College.
This year marks the 30th year of my graduation from Fordham College of Arts and Sciences. Since that moment on I have been dabbling, exploring, and toiling in the field of real estate. During my undergraduate studies I had no understanding of the industry, no sense of its deep dimension, and certainly no inkling it could be the most exhilarating, challenging, and rewarding career path for me.
My serendipitous foray into real estate can be traced back to this fine institution and the political science department, where Dr. Bruce Berg suggested I apply for an NYC Urban Fellowship where between undergraduate and graduate work, a group of 20 would be chosen to experiment and experience public service. This highly competitive scholarship program was launched by then Mayor Koch as a recruitment tool to draw young and eager talent into public service before graduates flocked to the private sector.
With a wide, ambitious, and curious lens (compliments of Fordham), I opted for economic development. This is essentially real estate with public purpose. And so began my professional love affair with real estate. It has been in my veins ever since.
Today, this F.I.R.E. initiative is as important to our profession as it is to the school’s students. We are a country of cities, where for the first time ever in the history of the world, more people live in cities than not. The 21st century definition of livable cities is being crafted, honed, debated, and drawn up. In every city across the globe, with every large-scale development plan; every rezoning initiative; every new building design; every new infrastructure undertaking; every new commercial lending program; every bull run and every bear market, the business of real estate is at play.
What makes our field so captivating, so impactful and so meaningful is that real estate thrives at the intersection of so many subject matter experts–to launch a single project, the business will tap into every Zip Code from architects, engineers, planners, lenders, and insurers.
Real estate has critical relevance to both the public and private sectors–forging deeply complex partnerships that have the power to transform and improve the human condition in ways that are concrete, tangible, and impacted.
I think about how fortunate I was, thanks to Dr. Berg, to let real estate find me. I think often about how many young minds would be drawn to the field if they only knew… F.I.R.E.will ignite passion and purpose into the minds and hearts of Fordham students; it will tap into and unleash its formidable alumni base, and finally it will, in the true Jesuit tradition, bring enlightenment and understanding, ensuring that the level of play in our business is held to the highest possible standard.
Thank you again for allowing me to be a part of this exciting moment.
— MaryAnne Gilmartin