A Strong Foundation for Housing Policy
A gift from Nicolas P. Retsinas MCP '71 and Joan B. Retsinas paves the way to endow the position of Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies and Senior Lecturer at the GSD, strengthening ties between the Center, the GSD, and across Harvard.
For homes of any kind to last, they need a strong foundation. With their gift to help establish an endowment for the position of Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies and Senior Lecturer at the GSD, Nicolas P. MCP ’71 and Joan B. Retsinas are creating a solid, sustainable future for the organization that drives housing policy.
Retsinas’s extraordinary legacy of leadership at the Center has also inspired many of the organization’s Policy Advisory Board (PAB) members to join this fundraising initiative. In a heartfelt demonstration of the convening power of the PAB and Retsinas’s impact on the industry, nearly 50 others have made gifts in his honor and raised more than $5 million to strengthen the Center’s connection to the GSD.
“The field of housing crosses many, many disciplines, and the Center is in a unique position to connect leaders in academia, industry, and policy,” Retsinas said. “My hope for this gift was that it would forge even stronger bonds between the Center and the GSD and catalyze the endowment for the Center’s leadership, and it means the world to me to see that hope come true.”
“The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies is the most important and most well-respected academic organization dedicated to housing in our country,” said Allan Merrill, Chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Beazer Homes and former chair of the PAB. “That is a testament to every thought leader who has been part of the Center staff and every member who has contributed their time, expertise and money to the PAB. Thanks to support for this endowment, we are doing our part to ensure that the Center will serve future generations in the same way it has served us.”
Retsinas, who serves as the Center’s Director Emeritus as part of his storied career, was the first non-faculty member to lead the Center when he held the position of director from 1998 to 2010. Under his tenure, Retsinas expanded the PAB and its connections to industry, doubled the size of the organization, and convened gatherings between academia, nonprofits, and businesses to explore topics and publish research. From that experience, he realized that creating a senior faculty position to lead the Center was essential to solidify the role and strengthen the policy connections between academia and industry.
“Universities care about the intellectual quality at these centers and what they’re producing, so it’s fitting and proper to have faculty directing the Center,” said current Managing Director Chris Herbert. “This is formalizing our leadership in a way that will increase its impact.”
In the position, an eminent practitioner or scholar with demonstrated experience in the housing industry or housing policy or research will serve both as director and as a senior lecturer on the GSD Urban Planning and Design faculty. The director will lead engagement with the public, private, and civic sectors, with a research agenda at the GSD focusing upon the study of housing and real estate.
In establishing this endowment, members of the housing industry are recognizing both the importance of the Center at the nexus of industry and academia and paying tribute to their longtime friend and his leadership.
“Nic and I had the opportunity to work together, teach, travel and write for a decade at Harvard Business School,” said Arthur Segel, the Baker Foundation Professor of Management Practice and Poorvu Family Professor of Management Practice at HBS. “We wrote about housing issues and slums all over the world, from Mexico City to Mumbai, from Durban to Nairobi, from New Orleans to the South Bronx. There were many especially poignant moments over the years, and I—like others who know Nic—consider him a dedicated advocate, an inspiration, and above all a friend. He has been so kind and so good to so many of us in so many ways.”
To learn more about the Joint Center for Housing Studies and its work to conduct transformative interdisciplinary research in housing, visit https://www.jchs.harvard.edu/.
For any questions on this initiative, please contact Courtney Ward.