Borrellis make $5 million commitment to endow Institute for Real Estate Studies

Penn State President Eric J. Barron, left, announced Friday a $5 million commitment from Jason and Julie Borrelli to endow the Institute for Real Estate Studies in the Penn State Smeal College of Business during an event in the Business Building Atrium. Credit: Steve TresslerAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Acknowledging the importance of real estate in their own lives, Penn State alumni Jason and Julie Borrelli have become two of the strongest advocates for real estate education at Penn State.

Two years ago, the couple endowed the Jason and Julie Borrelli Faculty Chair in Real Estate in the Penn State Smeal College of Business, and now they have made a $5 million commitment to the college’s Institute for Real Estate Studies.

The institute will be named the Jason and Julie Borrelli Institute for Real Estate Studies in recognition of their gift.

Penn State President Eric J. Barron called the Borrellis’ philanthropy transformational, noting, “This gift will take Smeal’s real estate program to the next level by providing the resources to strengthen existing programming, develop innovative ways to engage industry partners, and provide enriching experiences to students. We are deeply grateful for Jason and Julie’s support of excellence in real estate education.”

The Institute for Real Estate Studies was established in 1985 to foster discussion and research between academicians and business professionals in the area of real estate and to provide a focal point for real estate education at Penn State.

The Borrellis’ gift will allow the college to expand programs sponsored by the institute that help students connect and engage with the real estate industry, such as Real Estate Boot Camp or lecture series that invite leading real estate professionals to discuss current issues facing the field.

It will also help promote and expand student research opportunities, provide resources for experiential learning opportunities, and allow for an enhanced career and internship placement program. 

“I am continually amazed by the Borrellis’ generosity, by their passion for real estate education, and by their commitment to our students and faculty,” said Smeal College of Business Dean Charles H. Whiteman. “Their gift is an outward sign of our abiding commitment to real estate scholarship and excellence, and I am grateful for their support.”

A $5 million gift from Penn State alumni Jason and Julie Borrelli, center, will name the Jason and Julie Borrelli Institute for Real Estate Studies in the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Joining the Borrellis to announce the gift on Friday in the Business Building Atrium were Brent Ambrose, Jason and Julie Borrelli Faculty Chair in Real Estate, left, and Dean Charles H. Whiteman, right. Credit: Steve TresslerAll Rights Reserved.

Brent Ambrose, professor of real estate, Jason and Julie Borrelli Faculty Chair in Real Estate, director of doctoral programs for the college, and director of the Institute for Real Estate Studies, echoed those sentiments.

“I appreciate everything that Jason and Julie have done and continue to do for the program,” Ambrose said. “They are always looking for ways to help. In addition to their philanthropic support, Jason has spent many hours with our students, speaking at events, mentoring them, participating in mock interviews, and other ways that often go unnoticed. Their gift to name the institute will solidify the future of real estate education and enhance everything we do.”

The Borrellis are both 1994 graduates of Penn State.

Jason earned a degree in aerospace engineering and began his career with NASA in the Washington, DC, area. Meanwhile, Julie completed a degree in hotel, restaurant, and institutional management and joined Marriott International in Bethesda, Maryland.

A year later, the couple had the opportunity to join National Properties Inc., a real-estate investment, property management, and development business co-founded by Julie’s father, Jeff King. Jason worked in the property management and construction division and Julie worked in marketing and human resources.  

In 2006, Jason earned a master of business administration from Penn State Great Valley, with a focus in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial studies.

Today, Jason Borrelli is senior principal for operations at EQT/Exeter, a real estate investment management firm focused on acquiring, developing, leasing and managing logistics/industrial, office, life science and multifamily properties.

He is also vice chair of Smeal’s Real Estate Advisory Board.

“A named institute has been a goal for the Real Estate Advisory Board since before I joined in 2016. Julie and I have been impressed with the growth of the program and with institute director Brent Ambrose’s leadership and vision for real estate education,” Jason Borrelli said. “Alumni support has always been important to the success of the program, and we’re thrilled that we were in a position to step forward and make this commitment.”  

After leaving National Properties, Julie Borrelli turned her attention to volunteerism. She has been actively involved in supporting her children’s school and athletic activities as well as The Talk School, a center for the education of children with autism and speech/language disorders.

Now that their children are grown, she said she is hoping to turn her attention toward her alma mater, too.

The Borrellis said they feel fortunate to carry on the legacy of philanthropy to Penn State’s real estate program established by Julie’s parents, Jeff and Cindy King.

Jeff King, a 1967 graduate with a degree in marketing, was a founding member of Smeal’s Real Estate Advisory Board. When he stepped down from the board, he recommended Jason to fill the position.

Over the years, the Kings have made significant gifts to support Smeal and its real estate program, as well as the College of Education, University Libraries, and other areas across the University.

Following the Kings’ example, the Borrellis have made philanthropy to Penn State a priority. In addition to their gifts to the Smeal real estate program, the couple also endowed the Jason and Julie Borrelli Trustee Scholarship and the Borrelli Family Open Doors Scholarship in the Smeal College of Business, the Jason and Julie Borrelli Open Doors Scholarship in the College of Engineering, and the Borrelli Educational Equity Scholarship.

“Knowing that my dad started this work with the advisory board so long ago and now Jason is following in his footsteps is especially gratifying,” Julie Borrelli said. “We feel so fortunate to be able to advance my dad’s work with this gift.”

Gifts to the University will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit

Last Updated October 28, 2021