To many, Michael Crean was the professor who proudly wore colorful polo shirts, Crocs and bow ties. To others, he was the energetic storyteller who could be found on the golf course if he wasn’t in the classroom or his office—he’s had 16 hole-in-one, including the world’s longest on the 517-yard ninth hole at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club near Denver International Airport. To all, he was a devoted teacher who sincerely enjoyed helping students succeed—a sentiment he wore on his sleeve.
“Without question, the students were my greatest source of pride in this career,” said Crean, professor in the Burns School of Real Estate & Construction Management since1973. In 2014, Crean retired from Daniels after 41 years and was named emeritus professor in 2016.
Crean began his education at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned degrees in economics and finance with the intention of becoming a real estate lawyer. After graduating, he was accepted into the JD program at the University of Connecticut, but switched to the MBA program instead. Thereafter, he headed west to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he still intended to go to law school, but again changed course and wound up with a PhD in finance and real estate.
“I never planned on becoming a professor, but after writing my dissertation and teaching my first class in graduate school, I just fell in love with the academic life,” said Crean. While in the home stretch of his PhD, a professor encouraged him to apply for an open assistant professor position at the University of Denver. He was hired and never looked back.
Crean taught real estate finance, real estate law, real estate investment and several income property and appraisal courses. From 1986 to 1995, he served as chair of the Department of Real Estate & Construction Management (before it was the Burns School). Outside the College, he was associate editor for “Journal of Real Estate Literature” from 1990 to 1995 and authored and presented cases at annual conferences of the American Real Estate Society, for which he served as board member and case center director for many years.
He is also the author of two books, “Principles of Real Estate Analysis” and “Financial Analysis of Real Estate Investments” as well as numerous articles appearing in journals such as “The Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management” and “Real Estate Finance.”
Crean’s legacy for giving students a real-world, practical education and pushing them toward success lives on. Thanks to the generosity of his former student Nello Gonfiantini (MBA 1977, BSBA 1976) the Burns School is developing an interdisciplinary educational space where collaboration will meet a state-of-the-art learning lab. The Marion J. Crean Burns School Collaboratory is named for his mother.
“I’m someone who has always tried to enjoy life to the fullest,” said Crean, who now spends his winters in Las Cruces, New Mexico—golfing, of course. Teaching, he added, was a labor of love.
“DU was a great chapter in my life. I loved the students, my colleagues and the whole experience. I’m lucky. And now the next chapter begins.”