Inspired by a beloved professor, a University of Wisconsin alumnus has donated $2 million to the school’s real estate program.

Mark Irgens recently made the donation to benefit the academic mission of the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate.

The 1977 graduate had originally planned to major in accounting until former  professor James Graaskamp encouraged him to pursue a career in real estate. Irgens’ real estate company now boasts the development of more than 200 commercial real estate buildings located in Milwaukee, Chicago and Phoenix.

Lee Gottschalk, associate director of education and outreach for the James A. Grasskamp Center for Real Estate, said Irgens was moved by Graaskamp’s time as a teacher at the university.

“Mark Irgens was [sic] an alumnus who was really inspired by professor Graaskamp,” Gottschalk said. “Graaskamp was a quadriplegic who inspired so many students. So it was a natural choice to give back to the program that gave [Irgens] so much.”

Gottschalk said the donation will be given directly to help support the center’s executive director position. One role of the position is to help create connections with industry leaders for jobs, mentorships and guest speakers that directly benefit students.

The UW Real Estate undergraduate program is one of the best in the country, Gottschalk said.

“With a good education, you can become anything,” Irgens said in the State Journal. “Making a gift to something that made such a big change in our lives was a natural choice.”

[Photo by Flickr user shimelle]