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Dr. Wayne Archer, beloved UF professor, set to retire after 51 years of service

Photo courtesy of UF Warrington College of Business

BY HEATHER HANNAFORD

Dr. Wayne Archer remembers driving into Gainesville in 1971 along I-75 with his wife Penny and seeing a vision of the wonderful career and life he would build here: “It was late in an August afternoon, and a summer rain was passing through the area. Suddenly there was a giant rainbow hanging over the city as we approached. We took it as a good omen at the time; we just didn’t know how good. I think that day we really did find our pot of gold for the next 50 years.”

Since that day, Dr. Archer has forged a distinguished career as a researcher and teacher at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. He will be retiring from his position as Real Estate Professor, William D. Hussey Professor, and Executive Director of the Kelley A. Bergstrom Real Estate Center after the Spring semester. He will remain active in the Center in the role of Emeritus Professor, a position he is looking forward to because he will still be actively involved with the program he has helped develop and build.

Dr. Archer earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Indiana University in 1974 and was offered the position of assistant professor of real estate in 1971, while still working on his Ph.D. Before joining the faculty at UF, he had worked in the manufacturing industry for three years and then decided that he loved teaching. His mother had been a teacher, and he valued the work she did. After leaving industry, he taught high school for a few years, then decided to pursue a graduate degree. Though doubtful about teaching real estate at first, Dr. Archer found that his passion was there, and he built what is regarded as the best real estate education program in the country. He credits the people he worked with at UF for helping him realize his vision of putting education first, including his focus on reaching out to industry experts to develop training that would benefit his students and the industry at large. 

Dr. Archer is loved by his students and his peers, who will be sad to see him retire. He is known as a professor who takes the time to focus on his students’ needs first. Over his long career, Dr. Archer estimates he has taught over 10,000 students–and those students have fond memories of the impact he made on their lives.

Former student and current UF Bergstrom Real Estate Center Board Chair Nick Banks credits Dr. Archer’s class with helping him connect to the person who would give him his first job. Banks says that Dr. Archer continues to influence him to this day through the professor’s impact on the real estate industry. Dr. Archer explains, “We have always believed in bringing the ‘real world’ into the real estate classroom as much as possible–that was what launched our now highly-regarded advisory board. Anyway, that practice has brought to me and to our program a host of fascinating business leaders, many who are now long-time friends of the program. It also has made life richer for me, and it has led to countless jobs for our graduates.”

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That focus on industry expertise and real-world work helped Banks find his first job and launched his career. From sitting in Dr. Archer’s classroom to speaking for Dr. Archer’s classes, Banks finds it highly gratifying to continue to work with his former professor. Banks describes Dr. Archer as a warm, joyful, and humble man who “gets so much joy and pleasure from watching his students succeed.” He says Dr. Archer is the kind of person who makes you feel good just being around him.

Dr. Archer’s positive impact on his thousands of students is a legacy that Banks and many others consider one of his crowning achievements. Banks says he didn’t think Dr. Archer would ever retire. At the Center’s annual Trends and Strategies conference in March, Banks plans to highlight the enduring legacy of Dr. Archer on the current real estate industry, referring to 2022 as “the year of Wayne.” The sense of love and esteem for Dr. Archer echoes from students and peers alike, who describe him as someone who always supports and is proud of the work his students do.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Wayne Archer

When I spoke with Dr. Archer, this came through to me as well. He was busy grading papers but had a wonderfully light and joyful attitude to the work ahead for the weekend. He seemed to be truly honored and happy to help his students succeed. When asked what he will miss when he retires, he told me he hopes he doesn’t have to miss anything, because he intends to keep working with the Center in the capacity of Emeritus Professor. He also plans to work on some research he has put aside so he could focus on his students. He wants to read books, watch movies, and most importantly work on his family’s beloved tree house (shown above) that he began building when his sons were very little.

Over the years, the original structure fell apart, but with the help of his son and some friends, they have rebuilt the house, complete with spiral stairs. Dr. Archer’s son still works in the second story of the tree house when he comes home for a visit. As I talked with Dr. Archer, his pride in his students, his work, and his family were apparent. His warmth and generosity of spirit shone through everything he said, and his legacy at UF is a blessing for both his peers and his students. Dr. Archer says he looks at this next year as “as more of sabbatical than departure.” He may be retiring, but his joyful smile will still be seen at UF.