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Department of Finance and Real Estate formed, chair named

DePaul sign
(DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)
Our college’s departments of finance and real estate have merged administratively. Interim Provost Salma Ghanem approved the merger after it was presented to Faculty Council this spring. The new combined unit is called the Department of Finance and Real Estate, and to lead it, I am appointing Thomas Berry as chair, effective July 1. 

Combining the two departments provides a number of benefits. As you know, our college’s five-year review for reaccreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is occurring this fall. The merger allows us to meet AACSB’s reporting standards that are challenging to reach for smaller, separate academic units. A larger, combined unit also strengthens the potential for course size and credit hour growth, which are necessary for the college to hire future faculty members to teach in these disciplines. For students, the merger will provide more opportunities for cross-disciplinary study.

Much will remain unchanged in the combined unit. All degree programs, majors and concentrations in both disciplines will continue to be offered. We will continue to brand and seek strong business community representation to support both disciplines. The merger will not affect the missions of the centers or the membership of advisory boards associated with the two disciplines. No staffing changes are envisioned as a consequence of the merger. The two departments, located adjacent to each other on the fifth floor of the DePaul Center, are not moving due to the merger but will have a combined entrance.

A five-member faculty task force representing both disciplines completed merger terms this spring, working from a framework of terms proposed by the two departments’ chairs and presented to their faculty and staff members in February. A majority of full-time finance and real estate faculty members indicated they favored the merger in a survey conducted after they received the proposed terms.
Thomas Berry
Thomas Berry will serve as chair of the Department of Finance and Real Estate.

Thomas Berry appointed chair of the new Department of Finance and Real Estate

To his new role Tom brings a deep understanding of our college’s strategic direction from his experience as associate dean and a distinguished record as an ambassador for teaching excellence from his 39 years on our finance faculty.

As associate dean for student and faculty success, Tom has worked with the Driehaus Undergraduate Programs Office and faculty to implement initiatives that deliver high quality teaching and a high-touch experience for students.

Tom’s strong commitment to teaching led the university to name him a Society of St. Vincent de Paul Professor, an honor bestowed upon a small number of top DePaul full-time faculty members. He has won the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award five times and the college’s Lawrence Ryan Award for outstanding undergraduate teaching three times.

I am confident that Tom’s passion for teaching and student-centric service will help him lead the faculty and staff of the Department of Finance and Real Estate in strategically growing its programs and enrollment. He shares that he is “honored and excited to be leading this new department and to continue our tradition of leadership excellence in finance and real estate.”

A DePaul MBA alumnus, Tom earned his PhD in finance from University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Western Illinois University. At DePaul his teaching and research have focused on corporate finance and innovation.

Tom was one of three candidates who advanced their nominations for chair of the new department. Misty and I interviewed all three and also reviewed feedback on their candidacies that was gathered through an anonymous survey of finance and real estate faculty, staff and affiliated advisory board members conducted in May. These factors and Tom’s demonstrated leadership in advancing the strategic priorities of our college led to his choice.

I want to thank Elijah Brewer and Charles Wurtzebach for their service as chairs of the finance and real estate departments, respectively. Eli will return to the faculty to focus on teaching and his research. Charlie continues as the Douglas & Cynthia Crocker Endowed Director of the Real Estate Center and will support the new department’s relationship building and fundraising in the real estate community, in addition to his teaching and research.

I also want to thank the following task force volunteers for their work to finalize the merger terms: Professor of Real Estate Jim Shilling, task force chair; Associate Professor of Finance Sonya Lim; Associate Professor of Finance Sanjay Deshmukh; Professor of Finance and Keeley Chair Pavel Savor; and Charlie Wurtzebach.

Tom and I and the rest of our business college administrative team look forward to working with all of you to advance our college’s success in 2020-21. ​