Chancellor names UC Berkeley’s first ‘vice chancellor for real estate’

Robert J. Lalanne, an award-winning builder and real estate developer, has been named UC Berkeley’s first “vice chancellor for real estate,” a new role developed and announced today (Dec. 17) by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

Robert Lalanne is UC Berkeley's first 'vice chancellor for real estate'

Robert Lalanne is UC Berkeley’s first ‘vice chancellor for real estate’

Lalanne, a Berkeley alumnus, is the founder of The Lalanne Group, a Bay Area real estate development company. He brings more than 25 years of experience leading commercial, residential and mixed-use projects to this new role on campus. As vice chancellor for real estate, he will oversee the campus’s real-estate projects as well as the planning, building and operations of facilities on and off campus.

“Bob brings an extraordinary level of experience to this role,” Dirks said. “In our conversations I have been very impressed not just by his professional knowledge and creative thinking, but also by how deeply his ideas and goals are informed by and consistent with our public mission and academic goals.”

Lalanne, a 1978 graduate of the College of Environmental Design and a member of the Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees, will donate his salary back to the campus.

An integrated approach

In a message to the campus community, Dirks announced the new role as part of an effort to re-envision facilities management and take an integrated approach to capital projects and maintenance, one that uses new, innovative financial strategies and organizational structures to address the challenging financing realities the campus faces.

“So many of our academic aspirations are tied to our ability to expand and adapt our infrastructure in the years ahead,” Dirks said. “I plan to work closely with Bob as we develop a comprehensive approach to the management of campus real estate, including student housing, our athletics facilities and the Richmond Bay Campus.”

In this new position Lalanne will oversee more than 500 employees in the Facilities Services unit that has been led for more than 15 years by Ed Denton, who announced his retirement in July, 2013. During an extraordinary tenure, Denton successfully confronted difficult financial challenges and supervised the retrofitting of 75 percent of campus space that needed seismic improvement, campus leaders said.

Lalanne is expected to begin his new position as vice chancellor for real estate on Jan. 13, 2014. He will serve on the chancellor’s cabinet and report directly to Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance John Wilton.

“Berkeley will have to continue to innovate in order to provide the first class facilities required by our students, faculty and staff,” Wilton said. “We are really fortunate in being able to attract someone of Bob’s caliber and commitment to help us achieve this. I am thrilled that he accepted the challenge.”

A stellar record of achievement

As president of The Lalanne Group, Lalanne led the company through the planning and construction of several award-winning developments, including the Portside condominiums along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, the Potrero Center, Falletti Plaza and more than 1,300 multi-family units around the Bay Area. Prior to launching his own company, Lalanne served as project manager for Dinwiddie Construction Company, managing a number of major projects including the Crocker Tower and Galleria and Levi Plaza in San Francisco. Lalanne was recently appointed chair of the University Real Estate Development Council at the Urban Land Institute, where he collaborates on the development of best practices and policies with heads of real estate from major universities across the country.

“It is a real honor and privilege to be asked to serve in this role for an institution I love and deeply respect,” Lalanne said. “I look forward to collaborating with faculty, staff, students and fellow alumni as we seek to integrate all of UC Berkeley’s real estate endeavors, and enable the campus to maximize operational efficiencies and net revenue.”

“My over-arching goal is to generate new resources and support for the public mission and academic programs of one the world’s greatest universities. Berkeley gave me the knowledge necessary for success in my real estate career and to now redeploy that learning and experience in the university’s service is extremely gratifying,” he added.

A San Francisco native, Lalanne has strong ties to the campus. Both of his parents and his two daughters attended UC Berkeley. In addition to serving on the Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees, he is past chair of the Finance Committee and currently chairs the UC Berkeley Foundation’s Real Estate Task Force, where he has taken a leading role in assisting the campus on a number of real estate issues. He remains actively connected with the College of Environmental Design and the Haas School of Business, and has shown a deep commitment to collaboration with faculty, students, deans, campus leadership and alumni.