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Michigan Ross Alumni Give $6M to Launch Diversity Initiatives at the Business School


Stephen M. Ross and Jeff T. Blau have committed $6 million to help the Ross School of Business to further its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The gift supports a spectrum of initiatives designed to attract, recruit, support and offer innovative learning and work experiences for students from underrepresented backgrounds in real estate business and investing. 

Ross, BBA '62, is chairman and founder of Related Companies, for which Blau, BBA '90, is the chief executive officer. Both men are U-M alumni and are highly engaged volunteers and donors for Michigan Ross and the university. 

The Blau Initiative for Diversity in Real Estate and Infrastructure will have four components targeted at students from underrepresented backgrounds: sparking student interest in business and investing prior to attending U-M; attracting and recruiting students to U-M and Ross by making it more affordable; offering students learning experiences in real estate and investing; and providing internships for experiences in real estate and investing. 

The Related Scholars Fund will provide scholarships to attract and support students from diverse environments who are underrepresented in business leadership, including students from low-income backgrounds, who are interested in pursuing careers in investing and/or real estate through Michigan Ross. 

"I've been in real estate for more than 50 years and have a unique opportunity and obligation to foster more diversity in our industry," Ross said. "The Ross School is an ideal partner in this work."

Blau said, "I am honored to make this commitment to Michigan Ross, and I hope it proves useful in getting more students from diverse backgrounds interested and involved in the fields of real estate and infrastructure investing." 

The Blau Initiative will support the Related Scholars Fund and many other programs, including a new Michigan Ross Investing Academy, the Blau Career Development Series and the Blau Internship Program, which will support internship opportunities at Related Companies. The Blau Career Development Series will include activities such as company visits, career mentorship opportunities and professional development workshops. 

Scott DeRue, the Edward J. Frey Dean at Michigan Ross, said he believes the combined gifts will help the business school continue to make progress towards its diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

"This summer I announced a Commitment to Action related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Michigan Ross, and one of our commitments is to expand support for students from diverse backgrounds at the school," he said. "This new gift from Stephen Ross and Jeff Blau will help Michigan Ross create opportunities for students who are underrepresented in business leadership. I look forward to seeing the positive impact on diversity at Ross and in the business community for many years to come." 

The Blau Initiative for Diversity and the Related Scholars Fund will integrate with existing U-M and Ross outreach and access success programs, such as MREACH, Summer Business Academy, the Preparation Initiative and the business school's Consortium membership.

About Stephen M. Ross

Stephen M. Ross is the chairman and founder of Related Companies. Ross formed Related in 1972 and today the company includes approximately 4,000 professionals. Related is one of the largest owners of affordable housing and has over $60 billion in real estate assets owned or under development, including mixed-use, residential, retail and office properties in premier high-barrier-to-entry markets. 

Ross, who is also the owner of the Miami Dolphins, has received numerous honors for his business, civic and philanthropic activities. Most recently, he was inducted into the Nation Football Foundation Leadership Hall of Fame and received the Jackie Robinson Foundation ROBIE Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received The National Building Museum Honor Award and was named the National Housing Conference's Housing Person of the Year. Crain's New York named Ross one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Business. Ross has given more than $350 million to the U-M to date and is the university's single largest donor. 

Ross graduated from U-M with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, from Wayne State University Law School with a Juris Doctor degree and from New York University School of Law with a Master of Laws in Taxation.

About Jeff T. Blau

Jeff T. Blau is chief executive officer and a general partner of Related Companies. For the past 30 years, he has been responsible for directing and overseeing new developments worth over $60 billion in virtually every sector of the real estate industry. In his position as CEO, he is responsible for the strategic direction of the company, the overall management of the firm, the pursuit of new development opportunities, and corporate acquisitions and financing activities across all business platforms. 

Over the years, Blau has received numerous honors for his business, civic and philanthropic activities and most recently he was named to Crain's New York's New Influentials list of 25 leaders reshaping New York. At U-M, Blau has given more than  $10 million to date. He also serves on the Advisory Board at the Ross School of Business and is a member of the President's Advisory Group.

Blau completed his undergraduate studies at the U-M Ross School of Business and received a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.