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Accomplished Real Estate Executive Receives Honorary Degree

Douglas Crocker II is a longtime supporter of real estate education at DePaul

​​​​​A group of graduate in bright blue robes and graduation caps

Graduates look on during commencement in 2023
DePaul’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business will recognize accomplished real estate executive, investor and philanthropist Douglas Crocker II at its commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 16. Crocker will also be the keynote speaker for the ceremony. 

Crocker is renowned within Chicago’s real estate industry. He best known for his role as the President and CEO of Chicago-based Equity Residential, which, along with legendary investor Sam Zell, he formed and took public in 1993. The company grew quickly and was added to the S&P 500 Index. It is now one of the nation's largest apartment real estate investment trusts. 

All told, Crocker has over 60 years of experience in the real estate industry. He has received numerous awards, including the Urban Land Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, the NAREIT Edward Linde Industry Award and the American Jewish Committee’s National Human Relations Award. 

Crocker is a steadfast supporter of real estate education at DePaul. A former trustee of the university, Crocker is a founding supporter of the Real Estate Center. In 2005, Crocker and his wife, Cynthia, donated a generous gift that endowed the directorship of the Real Estate Center in perpetuity. Beyond this, the couple has given extensively to support real estate education, including scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students. 

Crocker continues to contribute considerable time and energy to the center.  

“Doug’s expertise has been vital to establishing the center as a leader in real estate education in the Midwest,” said Reagan Pratt, the Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Director of the Real Estate Center. “I have known Doug for almost 25 years dating back to my time on the buyside. I have always admired his intelligence and enjoyed his candor. Doug’s involvement was integral to my decision to join the center late last year.”  

The rapidly changing nature of the real estate industry — and the importance of adaptability in any industry — will form the cornerstones of Crocker’s advice to graduates at Kellstadt’s commencement ceremony.   

“My experience has taught me that the basic rules of the game can shift overnight,” he reflected in advance of the ceremony. “No matter how well-prepared you are – no matter how hard you work – you'll still have to stay agile. You can’t foresee every change. But you can adapt when the moment comes.” 

“Expect the unexpected, work hard, and learn from your experiences,” he added. "And never, never give up.”  ​