CAPSTONE

Trading Spaces

A team of exceptional senior Real Estate majors gain hands-on experience managing an investment fund unlike any in the nation

By Meg Maxwell

capstone_skyscraper.jpg Photo: Getty Images

1. The Big Idea

The Daniel M. DiLella and Thomas M. Mulroy (DAN-TOM) Real Estate Student Managed Fund is the first commercial real estate investment fund in the nation managed by undergraduates. 

Currently valued at $650,000, the fund was established in 2018 through generous donations as an index within the University endowment. Students co-invest as limited partners in projects across the United States. 

A committee of advisors, including Daniel M. DiLella ’73 VSB and Thomas M. Mulroy ’85 VSB, vote to green-light or reject student pitches.


2. The Leaders

Three senior fund managers—Real Estate majors who have a demonstrated passion for the industry and the leadership skills to make deals happen—lead a team of 20-plus student analysts and interns to research, evaluate and underwrite potential commercial real estate investment opportunities. They review legal documents associated with deals and monitor the development and management of properties.

Business Fellow and experienced investor Vincent Sanfilippo advises the senior managers on investment strategy throughout the year. Kelsea Wong ’21 VSB served as a senior manager for both semesters in 2020–21, alongside Ryan Dell ’21 VSB and Kyle Keenan ’21 VSB in fall 2020 and Matthew Farenhem ’21 VSB and Matthew Winschuh ’21 VSB in spring 2021.


3. The Investments

In 2020–21, the DAN-TOM Fund made four successful pitches to the advisory committee and grew the fund portfolio to six properties in South Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Minnesota. Recent additions include a senior living facility, a life sciences building and two retail outlets.

“I feel extremely proud to be able to say that I was part of four of the six deals in the portfolio,” Kelsea says. “In November, we made our first investment as senior managers after pitching over Zoom from three different locations. The next three deals came together through the year.”


4. Futures

The DAN-TOM Fund received its first investment proceeds in the spring, and participants hope to have at least one sale in the upcoming year. That will be a mark of quantitative success; but on the qualitative side, Ryan says, “Being involved in the fund was the best experience I’ve had at Villanova and absolutely had an impact on my receiving a job offer at Ernst & Young. It gave me experience in leading others, but also the fundamental knowledge to be able to do so.”

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