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IRVINE, CA-The University of California at Irvine has hired Kerry Vandell, who formerly led the real estate program at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, as executive director of the recently launched Center for Real Estate at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. The dean of the Paul Merage School, Andy Policano, notes that Vandell directed the Graaskamp Real Estate program at Wisconsin, consistently ranked among the top three programs nationwide along with UC Berkeley and the Wharton School.

Vandell will begin his tenure at UCI, which includes a professorship in finance, in July 2006. He will be making monthly visits to the school until then and will be part of the school’s ongoing breakfast series for the public on real estate topics. In addition, he will direct the school’s curriculum for MBA students interested in a career in the real estate industry.

Policano calls Vandell’s appointment an important step for the new center, which was announced in June and has received founding gifts of more than $1.5 million. The Center for Real Estate at The Paul Merage School of Business is designed to produce MBA graduates with special training in the real estate industry and in related disciplines such as urban planning, environmental and legal issues.

The center will also conduct research and propose public policy solutions to challenges faced by the real estate industry. Its establishment on the Irvine campus fulfills what many in the industry see as a long-term need in Orange County for an academic resource to analyze industry trends and provide a forum to discuss the issues and challenges faced by the county in land use and planning.

In April, entrepreneur and Orange County resident Paul Merage gave a $30 million gift to the school, which was subsequently renamed for him. Policano, who became dean of the business school in August 2004, says that the new Center for Real Estate will emphasize trend analysis and strategic planning to assist the industry in anticipating the cyclical changes and other forces at work in the real estate markets.

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