Kislak family donates $2M, creates endowed directorship at Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth U.

Directorship will be known as Jay I. Kislak Endowed Director.

Woodrow Wilson Hall at dusk. The building was built in 1929.

The Kislak Family Foundation has pledged $2 million to establish a permanent endowed directorship for the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, the foundation announced this week.

The directorship will be known as the Jay I. Kislak Endowed Director.

Jason Pucci, chief operating officer of the Kislak Co., made the announcement Thursday evening at the institute’s Leadership Excellence Award Dinner, hosted annually by Monmouth to honor outstanding contributions to the state of New Jersey and the nation through a career in real estate.

The endowment honors the memory of the late Jay I. Kislak, an inspiring entrepreneur, real estate pioneer and philanthropist.

Kislak earned his first real estate license while still a high school student at Newark Academy and later earned a degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Kislak entered the family real estate business in 1945, making it his life’s work. After moving to Miami in the early 1950s, he established what would become one of the country’s largest privately held mortgage banks, originating and servicing loans nationwide for more than 40 years. Until his death in 2018 at age 96, Kislak served as chairman of the Kislak Organization, which today focuses on real estate investment and brokerage.

“Jay Kislak was a patron of education and ideas,” Pucci said. “His ongoing commitment to Monmouth University allowed him to forge a living legacy by helping to develop students who will become the next generation of real estate professionals. The Kislak Family Foundation is proud to support the strategic vision of the Institute, and to facilitate regional growth, development, sustainability and socially responsive impact.”

The Kislak family’s philanthropic support and connection to Monmouth University dates back to 2006, when a generous and transformational gift helped establish the Kislak Real Estate Institute as a center of excellence in teaching and research within the Leon Hess Business School at the university. Together, the foundation and the university established the first credit-bearing academic real estate program in New Jersey — one of approximately 65 in the country at the time. Today, the Kislak Real Estate Institute is one of 100 such programs in the nation, enrolling nearly 170 students.

Monmouth President Patrick Leahy said the endowment, which builds on the foundation the family started in 2006, will have impact.

“This gift will support the teaching, scholarship and service that will be vital to the future of the Kislak Real Estate Institute and will meet the needs of aspiring real estate professionals,” he said. “The continued generosity of the Kislak Family Foundation also ensures that the institute will be well positioned to facilitate and address opportunities for economic and societal impact of real estate in our region and beyond.”

Since its inception, the institute has developed a variety of first-rate academic programs at Monmouth University aimed at providing the conceptual and practical skills needed to ensure a productive career in commercial real estate. The institute’s academic offerings foster strong decision-making skills related to real estate careers such as investors, asset managers, consultants, developers and officers of financial institutions.

The Kislak Family Foundation has provided continuing support for the Institute, including a $1 million pledge made in 2020 to provide need-based scholarships for undergraduates pursuing a business degree with a real estate concentration. At that time, the foundation also donated $100,000 to sponsor the university’s annual intercollegiate real estate competition, which challenges students to present their version of a property’s highest and best use based on a provided case study on the development potential of a property. Participating teams compete against many of the best real estate programs in the region, including Lehigh University, Baruch College, Rutgers University, Villanova University, Montclair State University, and Temple University, and winning teams are awarded cash prizes.