Real Estate Entrepreneur Helps Fund the Launch of RWU Real Estate Program

RWU Trustee and alumnus Todd Rechler gives back to Roger Williams, with a donation that launches the development of an interdisciplinary Real Estate Program

By Janine Weisman
image of RWU Trustee and alumnus Todd Rechler

NEW YORK, N.Y. – If he’s not in his 14th floor corner office in Midtown Manhattan, Todd Rechler ’93 might be one floor down talking to his construction services team. Or you might find him on the 15th interacting with his firm’s development company.  

The chief construction and development officer of RXR Realty is known for his strong interest in collaboration as much as his perpetual smile. Both play a role in the vision this Roger Williams University alumnus and trustee has for a new initiative at his alma mater. Thanks to a generous gift from Rechler, RWU is in the process of creating this interdisciplinary Real Estate Program unmatched by other higher education institutions in New England. 

“The university already has all the components you need,” Rechler says. “You’re not creating something from the ground up. The foundation is in place. I think everybody is really revved up to take this to the next level, starting at the top level with President Miaoulis, his team and the board, straight on down through the deans to the faculty and even to some of the students that we’ve talked to on campus. We’ll be leaders into this direction, not followers.” 

Rechler’s enthusiasm for giving back to RWU took root while wearing a hard hat during construction of the Law School in 1993, the year he graduated. As a student representative on the Law School’s project team, Rechler gained real-world experience to complement his classroom learning as a double major in business and construction management. 

“That was a big step for me,” Rechler recalls. “If I had questions, I was able to grab professors and say, ‘This is what’s happening on the job, and this is what we're learning in the book or in your class. Why aren’t they aligning?’” 

He is happy the university continues to embrace practical learning experiences when buildings are erected on campus. Construction, engineering and architecture students worked behind the scenes during construction of the SECCM Labs.  

RXR Realty is one of the New York metropolitan region’s largest owners, managers, and developers of real estate. Alongside complex, signature projects like the design of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and renovation of the iconic Grand Central Station, Rechler also focuses on converting and repurposing underutilized properties and parking lots into residential and commercial uses. One project replacing a dilapidated parking garage in New Rochelle with an apartment complex and retail space has eliminated a longstanding storm runoff problem in the area.  

By transforming spaces, stimulating the local economy, and mitigating environmental impacts, Rechler believes the role of the real estate industry is “to make it a much stronger place when we’re finished than when we got there.” 

Not so different from the role of higher education. Rechler’s vision will better prepare students for life after graduation. That may mean helping students develop a greater understanding of the financial side of things to enable future architects and general contractors and others to speak the same language as an owner-developer, he says. 

“They’re coming out with gaps in their knowledge, and we need to fill those gaps,” Rechler said.