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Burns School graduate remains connected to DU through scholarship fund

Stephen Farnsworth (MS 2002)

New Orleans native Stephen Farnsworth (MS 2002) came to the University of Denver in 2001 with the intention of making a career change. A 1997 industrial engineering graduate of Clemson University, Farnsworth decided after a few years in engineering sales that he wanted to switch gears to follow in his parents’ footsteps—his mother was a residential and luxury real estate agent and his father worked in construction management. The master’s program at Daniels’ Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management offered the perfect blend of disciplines for him.

“I liked the [program’s] balance of real estate finance coupled with the construction side. Having an engineering background, I favored and excelled in the construction side of things,” Farnsworth said. “But I wanted to get more into the investment side of real estate.”

As a student at Daniels, Farnsworth took a job at Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners. “Working for Etkin Johnson during the day and then hearing some of the same concepts at night [in class] was really cool,” Farnsworth said. “[That experience] allowed me to catapult into the real estate industry with a solid educational background and hands-on experience.”

During his time at Etkin Johnson, the company president, DU alumnus David Johnson (MS 1975), became an important mentor to Farnsworth. “While I wanted to be in real estate development, David recommended that I transition into the service side of the real estate business to better launch my career.”

So, with his master’s degree in tow, Farnsworth took a job in mortgage banking with Standard Mortgage, which was acquired by a Credit Suisse subsidiary and eventually merged with Walker & Dunlop.

“Today, I’m [working in] mortgage banking covering developers and building owners to help them finance their commercial real estate,” Farnsworth said. “I work with the principals and decision makers of development companies and real estate investment companies.  I help them strategize on the best way to finance [their projects] and execute their financing plans.”

Farnsworth is currently based out of New Orleans but he works on transactions from coast to coast. As a result, he still feels a close connection to Denver and the University.

“We love it out west,” he said. “My family visits as often as we can.”

For the past five years, Farnsworth has maintained an even closer connection to Daniels by giving back to the program that helped him make a critical shift in his career.

“I was the beneficiary of several scholarships [when I was a student at Daniels],” he said. “When I think about how successful I’ve been in my industry, I realize that my studies at DU and the knowledge I gained through the Burns School were instrumental to my success. I wanted to give back to a program that was so important to me.  My pivotal years at DU, having the success I’ve had coming out of that [program], I just felt like that’s something that I wanted to be sure I gave back to.”

Stephen and his wife, Amy, established the Stephen M. Farnsworth Endowed Scholarship Fund, which has helped graduate students at Daniels finance their master’s degrees in real estate and the built environment since 2014.

“Giving back to the University has been a way to hopefully continue a connection to [Daniels’] Burns School [of Real Estate and Construction Management],” he said. “Staying connected and tied into that is something that I’m proud to do.”