Alumni Hall of Fame member creates endowed directorship for FSU Real Estate Center

June 18, 2024
Tony DiBenedetto

Brett Lindquist, a 2022 inductee into the College of Business Alumni Hall of Fame, has made a significant philanthropic investment to create the Brett C. Lindquist Endowed Directorship for the FSU Real Estate Center.
Photo by Kallen Lunt/College of Business Click to enlarge

A major Florida State University supporter has put a bountiful personal stamp on a vital component of the FSU College of Business’ nationally acclaimed real estate program. 

Brett Lindquist, a college Alumni Hall of Fame member who earned real estate and finance degrees from FSU in 1983, recently made a significant philanthropic investment to create the Brett C. Lindquist Endowed Directorship for the FSU Real Estate Center, housed in the college.

His gift bestows the title of Brett C. Lindquist Executive Director on the center’s existing executive director, Yvonne Baker, who decades ago impressed Lindquist with her work in commercial real estate. Baker became executive director in April 2021, succeeding Dean Gatzlaff, the center’s long-time director who retired in 2022 and last year became an inductee into the Charles A. Rovetta Faculty Hall of Fame.

The gift gives Baker and the college funding to strengthen the work of the FSU Real Estate Center, which enhances the teaching, research and service mission of the FSU real estate program, ranked No. 6 among public universities by U.S. News & World Report.

The investment continues a steady stream of support to the university, college and real estate program from Lindquist, who in recent years joined his wife, Cindy Lindquist (BS Marketing ’85), in creating the Brett C. and Cynthia R. Lindquist Classroom in Legacy Hall, the college’s future home. Earlier gifts established the Lindquist Endowed Real Estate Scholarship Fund, the Lindquist Endowed Fund for Real Estate Excellence and the Lindquist Endowed Professional Sales Scholarship Fund.

“With yet another remarkable and thoughtful investment, Brett reaffirms his deep friendship and connection to the students, faculty and staff in the College of Business,” said Michael Hartline, dean of the college. “We thank him and Cindy for their continued vision, support and generosity.”

‘Passion’ about giving to FSU

Lindquist credits the college for his success as co-founder and CEO of The Mortgage Firm, a residential mortgage lending company that benefits from his FSU education. His firm boasts more than 40 branches throughout the southeastern U.S. and has closed several billion dollars in mortgage loans.

“It’s a passion for me,” Lindquist said about supporting his alma mater. “I’m lucky that I’m able to give money. I feel that way because I’ve gotten a lot more out of Florida State than Florida State has gotten out of me – the friendships, experiences and connections – so it’s an easy thing for me to make a decision to give.”

His gift creates the third named directorship among the college’s seven centers and institutes. It follows the Barry and Janice Anderson Directorship, held by Samantha Paustian-Underdahl, in the FSU Organizational Effectiveness Institute and the Christopher E. Iansiti Endowed Directorship, held by Luke Hopkins, in the Center for Professional Success.

In addition, the investment comes as the college celebrates the 40th anniversary of the FSU Real Estate Center and the 50th anniversary of the real estate program. Also this year, the college observes the 30th year of the FSU Real Estate TRENDS Conference, the FSU Real Estate Center’s hallmark annual event. The conference spotlights industry experts from across the country and draws more than 600 attendees annually.

“It’s an honor to have my name stand beside Brett’s because I know where his heart is and what his passion is for this program,” Baker said of Lindquist’s gift and her title change. “He wants the best for us, and we in the FSU Real Estate Center share a passion and commitment to serve our students, faculty members and industry partners. This named engagement with Brett makes our goals more attainable, and it makes us even prouder to do what we do.”

Lindquist on Baker: ‘A great fit’

Tony DiBenedetto

Yvonne Baker takes on the title of Brett C. Lindquist Executive Director of the FSU Real Estate Center. She became executive director in April 2021.
Photo by Kallen Lunt/College of Business Click to enlarge

Baker’s professional connection to Lindquist dates to 1996 when she, as an Orlando-based commercial real estate broker, leased Lindquist his first office space for The Mortgage Firm. Baker worked with Lindquist on subsequent leases, including a move to a nearby location, until the company eventually purchased its own building.

The two largely fell out of touch until early 2021 when Baker, with more than 30 years of experience in commercial real estate, applied to succeed Gatzlaff as executive director of the FSU Real Estate Center. As a member of the center’s executive board, Lindquist interviewed Baker, as did other board members, and put in a strong word.

“I remembered her as a spectacular broker and knew she could go into that role and share real-world knowledge and contacts from likely all over the Southeast,” Lindquist said. “She was such a great fit: an exceptional commercial real estate professional rolling into academia, and she’s helping to keep our real estate program rocking.” 

Lindquist said Baker’s work as center executive director helped inspire his Brett C. Lindquist Endowed Directorship. He expressed hope that his support and funding would give Baker more resources and reasons to stay in the role long-term.

“We’re a Top 10 real estate program in the country with incredible leadership, and I want to help keep an exceptional leader in the position,” he said.

Baker said her appointment as executive director and her new title exemplify “what we tell students all the time: The people you meet in this industry stay in your world for a very long time.”

Lindquist has kept FSU in his orbit ever since 1978, when he enrolled at the school as an All-America swimmer and swam competitively for four years. He found a deeper connection to athletics than academics but garnered inspiration and, ultimately, significant success from classes in real estate, accounting and finance, he said. 

In addition to giving back financially, Lindquist mentors students and maintains a regular campus presence as an event guest and classroom speaker, offering professional advice and tips on buying a first home. He remains on the FSU Real Estate Center executive board and is immediate past chair of the college’s Board of Governors. 

“The friendships, connections and experiences, they go on and on and weave through my life,” he said. “FSU is a huge part of me .”

Baker added: “He’s proud of what’s happening here, and he’s putting his name on that.” 

-- Pete Reinwald