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A $15-million donation from the CEO of Toronto developer Camrost Felcorp will found the David Feldman Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

The gift, announced Thursday, comes from Mr. Feldman and his wife Angela, their family and Camrost Felcorp. In addition to adding his name to Rotman’s existing collection of real estate courses for undergraduate and graduate degree programs, the centre will fund two new endowed chairs, offer new scholarships and expand the number of speaking and community engagement activities.

“I think the Feldman family really came to the school having this vision of trying to create talent within the Canadian marketplace rather than getting that talent elsewhere,” said Susan Christoffersen, Dean of the Rotman School and William A. Downe BMO Chair in Finance. Right now, she said, some of the top real estate development education comes out of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (where Ms. Christoffersen earned her PhD).

The funding will not create a new category of graduate or undergraduate real estate degree such as is offered at other Canadian schools like York University’s Schulich School of Business or the University of Guelph, but will expand options for U of T’s masters of business administration (MBA) programs. “The idea is this is something that’s embedded within our MBA where you’re allowed to do a specialization,” said Christoffersen.

Mr. Feldman was born in the United Kingdom, raised in public housing and in the 1960s he attended the predecessor building college that would morph into the University of Hertfordshire. He said he emigrated to Canada at the age of 22, drawn by stories of a construction company where everyone drove Cadillacs: He worked with Cadillac Fairview for seven years before branching out on his own in 1976.

He said the idea for donating to U of T came up in talks with his long-time family friends the Rotmans, who lend their name to the U of T’s business graduate school.

“This is going to be a world-class centre,” said Mr. Feldman, who will serve on an advisory board for the centre. “The object is to educate the future leaders of our industry.”

Mr. Feldman and his company have built thousands of condos and rental apartments, launching 80 projects over 50 years, but adding his name to the centre is an achievement he ranks with receiving a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (now known as a DofE) in his teens.

“I was very proud when I got the gold and went up to Buckingham Palace,” he said.

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