National Housing Advocate Named to Lead Roger Williams University’s New Real Estate Initiatives

RWU selects Richard Godfrey, national leader in real estate finance, community development and affordable housing, to launch interdisciplinary real estate programs

By Jill Rodrigues '05
Portrait of Richard Godfrey inside an RWU building.
Richard Godfrey

BRISTOL, R.I. – Roger Williams University is announcing today the launch of a new interdisciplinary Real Estate Program that integrates architecture, historic preservation, construction management, engineering, business, and law. The program will be led by nationally renowned housing advocate, real estate expert  and finance leader Richard Godfrey as the inaugural executive director.

With a School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation, School of Business, School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management, and School of Law, Roger Williams is among only 14 universities in the country – and one of three in the northeast – that is even able to develop a powerful multi-disciplinary approach in its undergraduate and graduate programs in order to prepare graduates to meet the challenges of the multi-faceted real estate professions.

“Roger Williams University is uniquely positioned to create a nationally recognized center of excellence in real estate. We can harness the strengths and expertise across our schools to build the multi-faceted experiential education one needs to have a thriving real estate career that encompasses development and management, construction and design, insurance, financing and legal policy,” said RWU President Ioannis Miaoulis. “Under Richard Godfrey’s leadership, RWU will play a vital role in our region and our country in developing a real estate approach guided by smart design and sustainable growth, prepared to address the most pressing issues of climate change and affordable housing.”

As one of the first initiatives to launch from RWU’s 2021 Strategic Action Plan, the interdisciplinary Real Estate Program will prepare Roger Williams students with the broad and sophisticated learning needed to address complex issues, to work on teams that encompass a range of perspectives and skillsets, while developing expertise in the many associated fields that work within and alongside real estate. Godfrey will join RWU on Feb. 22, directing the university’s strategic alignment of academic programming with industry needs, with community resilience and environmental sustainability at the forefront.

“I believe Roger Williams University can be a model for how to sustainably integrate the built and natural environments to create better communities for everyone. As a national housing advocate, it has been my passion and goal in life to create resilient communities with great homes,” Godfrey said. “I’m thrilled to join RWU and to contribute to this exciting work.”

Godfrey is the former executive director of 21 years at Rhode Island Housing, past president of the National Council of State Housing Agencies, and has worked as a partner in Wall Street law firms focusing on real estate development and public finance, as executive director for the New Jersey Department of Treasury, and as a municipal advisor. He holds a Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University Law School, B.A. in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University, and attended the Maxwell School of Public Administration at Syracuse University.

“Richard Godfrey’s depth of experience, deep commitment to improving communities, and his ability to convene experts from across the real estate sector make him the ideal inaugural executive director, and we are so excited to have him join us in building this center of excellence for RWU,” RWU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Margaret Everett said.

Working closely with the deans and faculty, Godfrey will spearhead the development of innovative undergraduate and graduate programming, executive educational programming, as well as symposiums and seminars aimed at addressing the most urgent problems facing the real estate industry and communities, such as sea level rise and adaptive reuse. RWU plans to launch a graduate certificate program in the next academic year.

With campuses in Bristol and Providence, Roger Williams is well positioned to tackle the challenges confronting such diverse places as coastal communities, rural towns and densely populated urban neighborhoods still contending with the effects of their history as manufacturing centers. Problems of this scope require a range of knowledge and diversity of perspectives to design solutions. RWU is leading the way by creating interdisciplinary initiatives that span across schools, programs, faculty expertise and student opportunities to prepare graduates for successful real estate careers and to be leaders in this complex industry.