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James Graaskamp taught real estate at the UW-Madison from 1964 to 1988 and was chairman of the Real Estate Department from 1968 until his untimely death in 1988. Graaskamp built the teaching side of the Real Estate program into national prominence and was noted for his holistic intellectual pragmatic approach, his iconoclasm, and his extraordinary efforts on behalf of his students.
During his career Professor Graaskamp was a leader in real estate analysis. Authorities still consider his A Guide to Feasibility Analysis to be the treatise on the subject; and most institutional investors regard his discourse on portfolio management theory for real properties to be their guideline. His explanations of the complex and dynamic world of real estate were remarkably eloquent and provided clear testimony to his formidable intellect and impressive creative writing talent.
Graaskamp was first and foremost a master teacher who took a deep personal interest in his students. In the classroom he passed on knowledge by means of a demanding curriculum and a punishing workload. His lectures combined theory with real world examples, often via a "war story" interspersed with his humor and quick wit. He also taught some very important lessons beyond the classroom. As a 250-pound quadriplegic professor who turned lecture notes with a stick held in his teeth, he dismissed his physical condition as a materials handling problem. He pursued life with unbridled enthusiasm, energy, curiosity and courage. His positive outlook and lack of self-pity were living testimony to the potential of the human spirit. His refusal to be limited in any way by his physical condition made lasting impressions on anyone who saw James A Graaskamp in action.
He developed many of the concepts he imparted to students in his applied research. Much of Graaskamp's written work was undertaken in connection with his consulting firm Landmark Research, which focused on real estate appraisals and feasibility analysis, in addition to a wide range of consulting assignments. Every major consulting engagement that Graaskamp undertook was a new research project. They were often undertaken to satisfy his need for intellectual challenge, personal growth and to develop innovative approaches to real estate problem solving. The majority of his consulting reports contained frontier thinking, conceptual content, and highly advanced creative analysis. The same courage he faced life with on a daily basis can be found in the challenging assignments that he undertook and the pioneering, often groundbreaking solutions, that are found in most of his work.
The collection provides a sampling of the extraordinary work of this truly remarkable man. It includes more than 170 consulting reports completed by Landmark Research between the late 1960s and the early 1990s, recordings of his class lectures from the 1972–1973 semester, as well as an extensive archive of classroom materials, notes for lectures to various professional and industry organizations, and correspondence regarding his involvement with the UW Real Estate Alumni Association. We are all proud to have played a small role in preserving it and making it available to others with the support of the Counselors of Real Estate and the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association.
 "Can an Eclectic Fiery 'Chief' be in the Mainstream? The Relationship of the Life and Work of James A. Graaskamp to Mainstream Real Estate Thought", by Steven E. Roulac in Essays in Honor of James A. Graaskamp: Ten Years After, edited by James R. DeLisle and Elaine M. Worzala
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