Pierce Education Properties Founder, CEO Frederick Pierce Passes Away

by Katie Sloan

San Diego — Pierce Education Properties Founder, Frederick W. Pierce IV, passed away suddenly last week. Pierce served as president and CEO of the San Diego-based firm and was a leader, visionary and dedicated advocate for the student housing industry. 

Under his leadership, Pierce Education Properties transacted more than $1.3 billion in acquisitions and became a trailblazer in the student housing sector while being known for its commitment to quality, student wellbeing and innovation. 

“The entire Student Housing Business team is incredibly shocked and saddened by this news,” says publisher Richard Kelley. “Fred was a great friend and supporter to Randy Shearin and me with everything we have done at SHB from day one. He was literally with us from the beginning. Smart, funny and passionate are three words that come to mind when I think of Fred. He will be sorely missed by all of us at SHB and the entire industry.”

Pierce’s leadership style was characterized by compassion, integrity and an unwavering dedication to making a positive impact. In addition to his professional achievements, Pierce was known for his generosity and commitment to philanthropy, supporting a number of initiatives aimed at improving educational opportunities and the quality of life for students and their families. 

The company says it will honor Pierce’s memory by redoubling its efforts to support students and its communities, and continuing the work he was so passionate about.

The Industry Responds

“At the first sight of Fred each time we got together, I knew a good time was sure to be had,” says Troy Manson, principal with University Partners. “ I’m honestly not sure I ever saw him without a smile on his face and the same went for those in his presence.  Fred was one of the most tenacious and resilient people I have ever encountered in business and his contributions to our sector over his career cannot be overstated.”

“My fondest memories of Fred are of seeing his perpetual smile, hearing his infectious laugh and learning from his impactful experiences,” says Dorothy Jackman, executive vice president and executive managing director with Colliers International’s national student housing group. “I will miss him and will look forward to all of us in the student industry keeping his legacy alive and strong. He was truly a unique icon for all of us. Thank you, Fred. Rest in Peace.”

“My favorite memory of Fred involved a panel that he and I were on together at an industry conference in Philadelphia,” says Andrew Feinour, president and CEO of Student Quarters. “Virtually every time I made a point Fred would immediately follow up by saying I completely disagree with Andy. This went on for almost 45 minutes. After the panel he walked over to me with a big smile and said I don’t actually disagree with you on most of those points but we needed to do something to spice things up for the audience. That started a pretty regular banter between he and I where we would be sure to disagree with the other at least a few times a panel. We would often laugh about it over a drink at the hotel bar afterwards. Fred will be dearly missed.”

“I am shocked and saddened by Fred’s passing,” says Donna Preiss, founder and CEO of The Preiss Co. “Our industry has lost a passionate and articulate voice. He was a wonderful competitor and friend. We often appeared on panels together and I always found his comments to be thoughtful and well researched. I have many times called to get his thoughts on issues. He was smart, confident and a good friend. I will miss him very much. My prayers extend to his family.”

“Fred was one of the first people I met in the student housing industry and he was as happy, friendly and smiley as he was just over a month ago sitting on stage on a panel with him at the SHB Interface conference in Austin,” says Andrew Stark, principal of Timberline Real Estate Ventures. “Fred was a pioneer and innovator in our sector and he seemed to know everyone and everyone knew him. His energy, exuberance and expertise were second to none. You didn’t need to ask Fred for his opinion, he was going to provide it to you whether you asked or not. He will be remembered for his legacy in our sector and his name will live on in all our future growth of U.S. student housing.”

“We’re very saddened to hear the news of Fred’s passing,” says Miles Orth III, executive vice president and COO of Campus Apartments. “Fred was a gentleman in all of his interactions with others and mentored so many people in the student housing space. He contributed innumerable hours to the edification of those of us in the student housing industry and more recently spent huge amounts of time helping our space overcome the myriad challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. He almost singularly helped educate the investment marketplace through his crisp and data-driven analysis on the advantages of the off-campus marketplace during those challenging years.”

“Most importantly, Fred pointed the way to a successful and full life by showing all of us how to give as much to our business endeavors as to personal and philanthropic endeavors,” continues Orth. “I’ll miss his advice and encouragement, but also know that so many of us are better having known him. On behalf of the entire Campus Apartments family, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Fred’s family and the Pierce Education Properties family.”

“Fred was an absolutely pioneering presence in the student housing industry, and a person who built a company with focus and integrity,” says Robert Bronstein​​​​, president of The Scion Group. “It will simply not be the same to attend an industry event and not have his smiling, energetic and enthusiastic presence. He will be greatly missed.”

“Fred was a walking enthusiasm machine with an infectious sense of the possible,” says Peter Stelian, CEO and co-founder of Blue Vista. “He added energy and excitement to every room he entered; he will be sorely missed.”

“Fred was one of my favorite partners to work with — always pressing the ball forward and fully engaged,” says Ryan Lang, vice chairman, head of student and co-head of alternative real estate assets with Newmark. “He was a pioneer in the space and I’m grateful we had the opportunity to work with him on many projects over the years.”

“Fred’s positive and passionate outlook for our industry was always inspirational to my team and me,” says Bill Bayless, founder and CEO of Maslow’s Properties. “My favorite memory was at the 2010 or 2011 InterFace Student Housing conference, when the development panel was complaining how difficult it was to make development deals pencil at the time. Fred commented that he was having no problems making deals pencil, as they were underwriting reversionary cap rates at 50 basis points below current marke cap rates. Fred was accurately predicting the significant cap rate compression the industry was about to experience. Rest in Peace Fred — you will be sorely missed by all!”

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