Today’s Innovation is Tomorrow’s Tradition

Walker & DunlopThe inspiration for the Innovator Award is the long and distinguished tradition behind the real estate and urban economics program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A rich history cannot be established without continuous improvement in ideas and in practice. We have been innovative in our teaching, in our research, and through the accomplishments of our alumni and practitioners – all dedicated to making a positive impact in our community and beyond. These award recipients embody the spirit of the Wisconsin real estate tradition in innovation.

The Innovator Award is generously sponsored by Walker & Dunlop. Read more about the gift here. 

Spring 2020 Recipient – Willy Walker, Chairman & CEO, Walker & Dunlop

Under Mr. Walker’s leadership, Walker & Dunlop has grown from a small, family-owned business to become one of the largest commercial real estate finance companies in the United States. He received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2011 and was named “Financier of the Year” in 2017 by Commercial Mortgage Observer.

Walker & Dunlop was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010 and has seen its shares appreciate 567% since going public. The Company has been named a Best Workplace for five of the past six years by the Great Place to Work® Institute and was #17 on Fortune’s 2017 list of “Fastest Growing Public Companies”.

Past recipients of this award include:

  • Robert J. Bond, Co-founder and president of Bond Companies
  • Robert White, President, Real Capital Analytics, Inc.
  • Richard Saltzman, CEO & President, Colony Capital, LLC
  • Michael Toolis, Chairman & CEO, VOA Associates, Inc.
  • Marc Holliday, Chief Executive Officer, SL Green Realty
  • Jay Shidler, Founder and Managing Partner, The Shidler Group
  • Gary Beban, Senior Executive Managing Director, CB Richard Ellis Inc.
  • Doug Frye, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colliers International
  • Michael Ashner, Chairman and CEO, Winthrop Realty Trust
  • Hersch Klaff, Managing Director, Klaff Realty
  • David Brain, President and CEO, Entertainment Properties Trust
  • Laurence Geller, President and CEO, Strategic Hotels and Resorts
  • Nicholas Billotti, Chief Executive Officer, Turner International