The donation came from Dean Weidner, founder and owner of Weidner Apartment Homes of Kirkland, Wash., to the Stout University Foundation. It will be used to establish the Weidner Center for Residential Property Management within the UW-Stout College of Management’s School of Hospitality Leadership.
“We want to help the university make it the best property management program for a student’s money possible and to attract more students,” Weidner said about his gift. “The three-part goal is to broaden the exposure of the program, grow the number and quality of the courses and expand it through giving students incentives to enroll through more scholarships.”
“The donation will be a tremendous boost for our property management program,” said Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen. “Our students will benefit for years to come from the generosity of Mr. Weidner.”
Abel Adekola, dean of the College of Management, said the money would be used to grant scholarships to students majoring in property management, as well as to purchase equipment and technology for the new center. The UW System Board of Regents approved the program in June 2009.
“We have worked hard to establish the reputation of this program over the last three years, and this gift recognizes the success of that effort,” Adekola said. "Most importantly, it will enhance the College of Management’s strategic objective of maintaining industry partnerships to attain and optimize resources in meeting the department and the program’s evolving needs.”
Mark Parsons, UW-Stout vice chancellor for University Advancement and Marketing, said the donation will provide annual funding for faculty and student development, program marketing and discretionary spending, “all of which are intended by the donor to grow and develop” the property management program “and enhance its regional and national reputation. We are very grateful to Mr. Weidner for his leadership in philanthropy and for this extraordinary gift.”
The scholarships, Parsons said, will go to students with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Three $2,000 scholarships will be awarded each year to a junior or senior; two $1,000 awards will go to juniors or seniors; and two $1,000 scholarships will go to freshmen or transfer students. The gift will create a substantial endowment at the foundation to provide perpetual support for the property management program and the Weidner Center Scholarships.
Weidner said he has been impressed with the quality of the property management program, although it is only three years old. “Better than that,” he said, “the university is interested in improving and expanding the program. The level of work ethic and knowledge of students we have hired from the program is good and could get considerably better. We felt that making such a contribution to the program would enable it to be developed further.”
Weidner said that the UW-Stout program came to his attention after the company recruited some graduates.
“Our initial recruiting efforts at UW-Stout were rewarded with some outstanding students from the program that were well versed in our industry,” Weidner said. “During their interview process, we found most of the students demonstrated excellent core values in addition to their education, which was extremely important to us.”
Weidner has rental properties in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Washington and Canada.
“People are the most important ingredient in our business,” Weidner said. “With apartment communities becoming larger and more sophisticated, the skills and responsibilities necessary to operate them require a solid education, maturity and judgment. Overseeing a large apartment community requires the ability to run a large, multimillion dollar business, with the communication and judgment skills of managing a sophisticated small city.
“Apartment homes today are a huge improvement over apartments of the 1960s,” Weidner continued. “Today our product features 9-foot ceilings, special electronic wiring, washers/dryers in each unit, gourmet kitchens with the latest appliances, granite counter tops, large windows, big closets, storage space and covered or secured parking.
“In addition, the resident clubhouse or public spaces feature swimming pools, Jacuzzis, tennis courts, racquetball, gyms, exercise facilities, cyber cafés and games. The quality of lifestyle available at a large apartment community built since 2000 is usually better than the resident experienced growing up with his/her parents and is often better than they could afford to reproduce unless they could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for housing.”
The UW-Stout program produces graduates who can work in a variety of real estate management areas, including public housing, apartments, condominiums, community associations, vacation properties, offices, industrial parks and shopping centers. More information is available here.