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Real Estate MBA Students Named as First “Witkoff Scholars”

January 08, 2014
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Pictured: Steven Witkoff, chairman and CEO of The Witkoff Group

Three students enrolled in the School’s new Accelerated MBA in Real Estate program have been named the first “Witkoff Scholars.” The scholarships come thanks to the Martin Witkoff Endowed Real Estate Fund, established by Steven Witkoff, chairman and CEO of leading real estate firm The Witkoff Group, who this year established the Fund in memory of his father.  The Fund supports student scholarships, internships, program initiatives and other activities for both graduate and undergraduate students.  The first Witkoff Scholars are Catherine Cai, who is from Shanghai; Theresa Schwark,from Panama; and Thomas Speno, from Florida.  The scholarships will cover a significant portion of the tuition for the new MBA program that launched in spring 2013.

“I became involved with the School because I could see that in order for it to move forward and attract even more top professors and students, endowments and scholarships must be available,” said Witkoff, who is also chairman of the School Real Estate Programs Advisory Board, which actively assists in developing and promoting the real estate curriculum. “Having been involved with the school now for several years, I have witnessed a real evolution due to a highly energetic administration, a solid and engaged real estate board, and an incredible caliber of students.  It is exciting to be a part of.” 

The 18-month MBA program, designed for students interested in pursuing careers in commercial real estate, is unique in that it includes two paid internships, one at the beginning of the program and one at the end. This year, the program began with Cai interning at Swire Properties, one of South Florida’s leading international developers of urban real estate; Schwark interning at The Related Group, the nation’s leading developer of luxury condominiums and multi-family residencies; and Speno interning at Banyan Street Capital, a leading Miami-based private equity firm.

“I saw that the UM master's program had a full-time six-month internship,” said Speno, one of the Witkoff Scholars. "The internship was a real deciding factor for me because I could stay in the workforce while earning a graduate degree.”

Following the initial six-month internship, students attend real estate industry-focused classes that begin in January. They then participate in a second internship from May through August, and complete the program with more classes in the fall.

In addition to the new accelerated MBA program with a concentration in real estate, the School offers a Bachelor of Architecture/MBA (BArch/MBA) program in partnership with the School of Architecture, an MBA concentration in real estate, and an undergraduate real estate major. More information about the School’s real estate programs can be found at www.bus.miami.edu/realestate.

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