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Robert M. Stanton, a well-known Hampton Roads real estate developer, Old Dominion University alumnus and former ODU rector, recently made the largest planned gift, $1.5 million, of any alumnus in the university's history. His donation serves as the lead gift in a campaign to create a $4.5 million endowment, which will establish the Robert M. Stanton Chaired Professorship in Real Estate and Economic Development.

"I hope that this record remains standing no longer than 15 minutes," said Stanton, who as one of the earliest members of the university's Educational Foundation board helped to increase the Educational Foundation endowment value to its current $115 million.

"I cannot overstate the importance of this gift," said Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration. "Bob Stanton has had a wonderful relationship with the university and the funding for CREED ties with the college's mission to support economic development."

Stanton was a founding member of ODU's Real Estate Foundation board when it formed in 1994 and served as its first chair until 2003. The assets of the Real Estate Foundation grew from $500,000 in land, property and a small amount of cash provided as seed money by the Educational Foundation to more than $10 million when he stepped down as chair.

The endowment for the Robert M. Stanton Chair will eventually total $4.5 million. It includes a $1.5 million matching gift from Frank Batten, retired CEO and founder of Landmark Communications. Batten, who recently gave $32 million to the university, inspired Stanton with his generous gift. The remaining third of the endowment will be raised from alumni and members of the Hampton Roads real estate community.

The professorship will be jointly housed within the Department of Finance and the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development (CREED). The endowment will provide funding for both the chair and for CREED, which provides information and resources for the Hampton Roads real estate and economic development communities in their quest to improve the regional economy through job creation and investment. The College of Business and Public Administration offers a bachelor's degree in finance with a real estate track.

The funds will also support increasing enrollment in the real estate major through curricular changes, scholarships and internships. The goal is to bring national recognition to the real estate program and to support the college's focus on economic development. Four scholarship endowments currently are available to students enrolled in the real estate program.

Stanton earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Old Dominion in 1961. He began his real estate career at Goodman Segar Hogan Inc. in 1966 and rose through the ranks to become president in 1975. He retired from GSH and organized Stanton Partners in 1993, specializing in commercial real estate investments. He has been involved with some of the region's most significant developments. They include Lynnhaven Mall, Greenbrier Mall and a number of neighborhood shopping centers. He also led the development of The World Trade Center, Riverside Corporate Center and most recently 150 Main. He continues to be involved with several projects in various stages of development.

He has served on the board of directors of the International Council of Shopping Centers and the Urban Land Institute. He remains actively involved in the community serving on the boards of many organizations, including the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation, the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation, Tidewater Scholarship Foundation, Lynnhaven River-2007, Greater Norfolk Corporation and the Virginia Marine Science Museum.

He has been honored for his service to the community and real estate industry throughout the years. He was named one of the Five Outstanding Young Men in Virginia in 1973, First Citizen of Virginia Beach in 1976, Outstanding Business School Alumnus by Old Dominion University in 1982, Distinguished Alumnus by Old Dominion University in 1986, Executive of the Year by Professional Secretaries International in 1991 and Distinguished Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America in 1991.

The College of Business and Public Administration at Old Dominion University was established in 1961 and today has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

This article was posted on: February 17, 2004

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