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VILLANOVA, PA-Dan DiLella, president and CEO of Philadelphia-based BPG Properties Ltd., has donated an initial $1 million and committed to providing another $2.5 million to Villanova University. It will be used to establish the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate at the university’s school of business.

DiLella earned a finance degree from Villanova in 1973. He says the university “provided me with the knowledge and opportunities I needed to develop the career I have today. I’ve had the idea for establishing a real estate program at Villanova for the past 15 years,” he tells GlobeSt.com and credits the new dean, James Danko, with helping to move the plan forward.

“Real estate is taking a bigger part of investment portfolios,” DiLella says, “and yet there are very few, if any, full-fledged real estate programs at colleges and universities.” Initially the center will be located in Bartley Hall, and it will have a formal opening on April 17. Shawn Howton, a Villanova finance professor, has been named the center’s director, and James Vesey, former senior director of capital markets in the Philadelphia office of Cushman & Wakefield, has been named the center business fellow.

A new real estate minor is planned for the fall 2008 semester. “Two courses have already been scheduled,” DiLella says, “and they are full with waiting lists, which shows there’s big demand. My dream is that the center will offer a real estate major within the next few years.”

Danko has set a goal of increasing research centers at the university and ensuring that each center is named and ultimately endowed with $5 million. DiLella is, and remains, a member of the advisory board and says he has a long list of area commercial real estate industry members who are Villanova graduates. “It is my hope that this new center will provide young people who are interested in real estate, as I was, with the resources they need to pursue successful and rewarding careers in the field.”

BPG is a private equity real estate fund manager. This July, it closed on its eighth fund at a record $850 million. In all, it has raised more than $2.8 billion, and its current portfolio encompasses more than 20 million sf in all sectors throughout the US.

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