Distinguished Alumnus Presentation

Each year, in conjunction with the University of Michigan’s homecoming weekend, Taubman College pays tribute to their alumni with special events, including lectures, reunions, and plenty of food. In addition to celebrating its many accomplished alumni, the college honors one alumnus in particular with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. This is the highest award from the college, celebrating the person’s accomplishments after graduation. A person must be a leader in his or her field and have an interest in assisting students and maintaining a network of opportunity for current and past students of the university.

This year’s Alumni Weekend began with a presentation from the 2008 Taubman College Distinguished Alumnus, Jorge Pérez. Pérez graduated with a master’s in urban planning in 1976 and is now the founder, CEO, and chairman of The Related Group. He and his company have built Miami into the 24-hour metropolis it is today. Pérez spoke to an audience of over 150 students, alumni, faculty, and staff on October 3rd at 12pm about his success in his career. He began by complimenting the University of Michigan, stating his time at the College of Architecture + Urban Planning helped him to mature. He continued to describe his early work as a community developer at the age of 26 when he headed the neighborhood planning program in Miami. Once The Related Group was established in 1979, Pérez turned his attention to developing condominiums downtown.

Jorge Pérez gave some advice to his audience: First, persistence is absolutely essential. “You can’t let them get you down,” he says. Second, a person cannot be the best just by working hard; passion is required to succeed. “Hard work is unrewarding and real success will never come” without being passionate about what you do.

Following his presentation Pérez participated in a panel discussion with alumni David Neuman, B.Arch.’70, of the University of Virginia; Malik Goodwin, B.S.’97, M.Arch./ M.U.P.’02, from Detroit; and Megan Gibb, M.U.P.’96, of Portland, Oregon. Jonathan Levine, chair of the Urban and Regional Planning Program; and planning student Joshua Brugeman also participated in the panel. The panelists discussed, among other things, the role of public private partnerships, and lessons learned in Miami that might be applied in Detroit.