John Colvin, the founder of the Colvin Institute, was a 1969 alumnus of the University and principal owner of Questar Properties, a Baltimore-based group of development companies. He was engaged over many years in giving back to the community and his industry. He served as president of the Maryland chapter of the National Association of Home Builders, and served on multiple statewide commissions under multiple governors for the state of Maryland.
John and his wife Karen, a longtime professor at the University of Baltimore, endowed the Institute early in 2008, which was key to the expansion of the MRED program. The Institute provides stability, visibility and support for research and engagement with the professional real estate community. It also provides student enhancements for the Master in Real Estate Development Program. John, who passed away in the summer of 2015, was proud of the programs that he and Karen helped initiate with the Institute’s endowment. An additional gift in spring 2015 launched the real estate development and construction management minors.
John Colvin credited his late mother, Neomie Colvin, as his greatest role model. She possessed only a high school education, but shattered the glass-ceiling for women as a pioneer in commercial real estate. While he admired his mother’s skill in negotiating deals for her high-profile developer clients, he set his sights on the top decision-maker position, saying, “I wanted to be the guy who made it happen or pulled the plug—the developer.”
One of the things that brought John the greatest satisfaction was engaging with students as they developed their careers. He was a regular Capstone mentor and frequent guest lecturer and he relished class trips to Baltimore, where he could share the history and spaces of his hometown. Talking and working with students was as important to John as his professional work and he took great pride in their accomplishments.
The Colvin Institute is an asset to the University, the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and to the students who participate in the real estate programs.