Burns School builds Marion J. Crean Collaboratory at Daniels
Daniel Close (BSBA 2010) remembers enjoying classes at Daniels the most when industry experts visited. Close, who is now first vice president at CBRE, knew in high school that he wanted to go into real estate. As a student, he thrived while engaging with industry insiders. He wants to make sure those opportunities are even easier for future students. So, Close and his wife, Kyndal (MBA 2011), made a substantial donation to the Marion J. Crean Collaboratory.
The Collaboratory will be a high-tech space housed inside the Daniels College of Business. A curved display of LCD screens called the Liquid Galaxy will allow students to zoom into any construction site or tour any real estate property in the world. A Bluescape interactive wall will allow students or guests to share media while also communicating through video; the platform allows for maximum collaboration and interaction. In addition, an Advisor Network conference room with multiple digital monitors will allow students, alumni and industry partners to engage virtually on a daily basis with tools like GoToMeeting, WebEx and Meeting Burner.
“We see these Liquid Galaxies popping up at a few real estate offices too,” said Daniel Close. “Instead of spending a whole day in a car driving to sites, you can come into this kind of space in the morning, overview 20 sites and narrow it down to your top four and then go out and visit those. It’s efficient.”
Barbara Jackson, director of Daniels’ Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management, got the idea for the Collaboratory after talking with several alumni who mentioned how valuable it would be for students to connect with experienced professionals.
“One of the best ways to prepare students for real-world challenges and stimulate the development of real-world solutions is to give them access to the expertise and wisdom that exists among our alumni,” Jackson said. “The Collaboratory provides access to this invaluable wealth of experience and it makes it easier for alumni to participate. Alumni can be on job sites anywhere in the world and we can connect.”
Nello Gonfiantini (BSBA 1976, MBA 1977) provided a generous donation to honor Burns School Professor Mike Crean. Crean wanted the Collaboratory named after his beloved mother, Marion J. Crean. The University is proud that in addition to Gonfiantini and the Closes’ contributions, several alumni and corporations have helped close the fundraising gap. DU is shy just $150,000 in order to make the Collaboratory a reality.
“This project was meaningful enough for us to step up and make a difference,” Close said. “We’re not just writing the check and watching it happen; we want to be involved and be a resource for the students.”
Daniel and Kyndal Close are excellent resources to Burns students. Daniel has been a broker at CBRE since 2012. CBRE Group Inc. is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, with more than 100,000 employees.
Daniel specializes in commercial and industrial properties in the Front Range. He’s participated in transactions totaling more than 4.2 million square feet and 579 acres, with a combined value of more than $401.1 million.
Kyndal, who has now retired to raise the couple’s son, also worked at CBRE, where she and Daniel met. Kyndal worked as a business development analyst and client services specialist. Her early career was in consulting with Deloitte, but she got her MBA at Daniels to move into a career with less travel.
“I love real estate and thought the commercial side of things was a good career,” Kyndal said. “I started at CBRE as the retail researcher, which is a good way to get your foot in the door.”
Kyndal provided market intelligence to clients, then moved to the retail investment team where she developed marketing and client service strategies.
“We sold anything from stand-alone Starbucks coffee shops to malls,” she said. “I spent about eight years there and really enjoyed it.”
Hannah Strunc (MBA 2013) met Daniel when they attended DU together, and they’ve remained close friends since graduating. Strunc describes Daniel and Kyndal as having an energy and passion for life that really inspires her.
“I am not surprised by their generosity to support this initiative at Daniels,” Strunc said. “Daniel knew from the very beginning of his time at DU he was going into real estate and I know for a fact both of them soaked up every opportunity while they were at the University of Denver. Both Daniel and Kyndal are the first to want to help lift up the people they surround themselves with, and I hope the students in the Real Estate School will be able to feel this as well, even without knowing them.”