search button
newscenter logo
Sunday, May 16, 2021

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

Julie Dillon Julie Dillon

Gift Aims to Support Professionals in Real Estate

SDSU alumna Julie Dillon’s gift to the Fowler College of Business stems from her own experiences in the field.
By Jeff Ristine

“Julie Dillon is truly an inspirational story and is an excellent example of our outstanding Fowler alumni.”

In her final year toward earning a business degree at San Diego State University, an expectant Julie Dillon thought she had the timing down just right for her second child.

Dillon was balancing her academics and family life with a high-powered career in real estate, and her baby boy was due during spring break. But the baby was late.

“I was so worried because I couldn’t take my final,” said Dillon, now president of her own land development company and the donor behind a new faculty fellow position in the Fowler College of Business. “But I had a wonderful professor who (let) me take the final later. One week after I had my baby I took a lawn chair and a pillow to the classroom, took my final and graduated.”

It wasn’t the only unconventional step in her journey to a degree.

After starting her undergraduate education in pre-nursing at Fresno State, Dillon relocated to San Diego and began working in real estate. She eventually resumed her education at SDSU at what was then the College of Business Administration and landed a job at The Corky McMillan Companies through an offer from an executive who was working as a part-time professor and was impressed with a presentation she made in his land development class.

Enrolled in one night course at a time, it took 12 years to complete the requirements. She graduated in 1976.

Her gift to the university, the Julie Dillon Endowed Faculty Fellow in Real Estate, will be used to recruit, retain and recognize outstanding faculty in the real estate department. Dillon’s new $50,000 gift is being combined with previous gifts to create the faculty fellow position and will be matched by Ron and Alexis Fowler through their $25 million endowment to the college in 2016.

Retaining talent

Dillon has previously supported the college with gifts. The decision to support an endowed fellowship to attract and keep what she calls “top-notch faculty” stemmed from a conversation with interim Thomas & Evelyn Page Dean Bruce Reinig.

“We were talking about how difficult it is to both attract and retain really excellent faculty because of the cost of living (in San Diego),” she said.

“Julie Dillon is truly an inspirational story and is an excellent example of our outstanding Fowler alumni,” said Reinig. “She worked hard to achieve great professional success and generously supports our students through her mentoring and philanthropy. Her most recent gift to establish a Faculty Fellow in Real Estate will help us recruit and retain high-quality faculty to ensure that our students receive the rigorous business education they need to succeed in the workplace.”

In addition to running Dillon Development, which she started in 1979, Dillon serves on the boards of The Campanile Foundation, an SDSU auxiliary, Wakeland Housing and Development Corp., and Pro Kids – First Tee, a nonprofit that seeks to help underserved youth with life skills, education and character development in a program centered around golfing. She formerly served on the board of the Centre City Development Corp., a non-profit created by the City of San Diego to oversee downtown redevelopment between 1975 and 2012.

Dillon’s appreciation for SDSU comes partly from taking classes after she had already started working in the field. That “made the education even more important to me,” she said. “Because I could see that it filled in gaps of knowledge that I did not have.”

The gift speaks to a value from the education that those who think “you just get a license and go sell” may not realize, Dillon said.

“People don’t appreciate the professionalism of real estate,” she said. “It’s everything from land acquisition to finance to marketing…and customer service. It’s a big package that needs professional people working in it.”