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UF alumnus’ transformational gift will create a preeminent resource for the real estate industry

Kelley Bergstrom commits $13 million for new interdisciplinary research program

A businessman whose career was boosted through smart real estate decisions is investing another $13 million in the University of Florida to translate the university’s comprehensive scientific research into practical knowledge for the real estate industry, the university announced.

Kelley Bergstrom’s gift, through the Bergstrom Foundation, will be matched by UF to provide additional resources for the UF/Bergstrom Real Estate Center in the Warrington College of Business. His new gift brings the UF alumnus’ total contributions to his alma mater to more than $18 million. Bergstrom is founder and chair of the real estate and private equity firm Bergstrom Investment Management, headquartered in Key Colony Beach, Fla.

Bergstrom’s goal for the center is to leverage the university’s broad research capabilities in agriculture, architecture, construction, business, economics, engineering, geography, law, medicine, urban planning and other academic disciplines to inform real estate decisions for policymakers, investors, developers and the public. He envisions the center earning the reputation as a preeminent resource for practical, timely and usable information for the entire real estate industry.

“As a land grant university, the University of Florida has a unique role to facilitate applied research to the real estate industry and consumers of real estate products,” Bergstrom said.

His latest investment in UF, along with private gifts from other alumni, friends and organizations, and funding from the university itself, will support the new campus-wide initiative to broaden the scope of real estate-related research. The ambitious undertaking will include new hires and grants to multiple academic departments to generate research and establish publications.

“Kelley’s gift will dramatically increase our ability to leverage the tremendous research being done across UF and make a meaningful impact on the lives of the citizens of Florida,” said Tim Becker, who directs UF’s Bergstrom Center. “We are grateful that Kelley sees the return on his initial investment in our center and is willing to continue investing in our students, faculty and industry to address the challenges of the future.”

Bergstrom’s support of UF’s real estate program will deepen the Warrington College of Business’ standing as a go-to destination for students aspiring to careers in real estate and for companies seeking talented graduates, university Provost Joe Glover said.

“When a great mind for business like Kelley Bergstrom invests in UF, it reinforces our confidence that we are engaging in projects that matter, returning dividends, and improving the lives of Gators,” Glover said. “Through his generosity, UF’s leadership in the real estate area will continue to grow as Florida and the rest of the nation look for strategic and sustainable solutions for economic growth and development.”

Bergstrom earned his MBA at UF in 1968 and has been honored with the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He’s past chair of the UF Foundation’s national board and serves on the Warrington College of Business Advisory Council. He received the UF Academy of Golden Gators’ lifetime volunteer award. In addition to UF’s real estate program, Bergstrom and his wife, Joan, support first-generation college students, military veterans and other scholars in the business school. In 2006, the real estate center was named in Bergstrom’s honor when he created an endowment to fund the program.

Bergstrom’s gift brings UF’s Go Greater campaign fundraising total so far to more than $2 billion, with three years remaining in the campaign. The campaign’s stated fundraising goal is $3 billion.

“It’s alumni and friends like Kelley — people with the vision and desire to move the university forward — who are positioning UF to be one of the world’s most remarkable and influential universities,” Gainesville developers and campaign co-directors Ken and Linda McGurn said in a joint statement. “That we share his passion for real estate makes it even more satisfying that his investment in UF is pushing the university closer to its goal to be an even more premier institution of higher learning.”

The University of Florida has a long history of established programs in international education, research and service, and is one of only 17 public, land-grant universities in the prestigious Association of American Universities. UF is ranked No. 8 on the most recent U.S. News and World Report’s list of public universities. [endmarkk]