The Campaign for Haas

Ask the Donors

Real Estate Investors Find a Home at Haas

Lisle Payne, MBA 67, and his wife, Roslyn, forged separate successful careers in the real estate industry—he focused on real estate equities while she worked on the financial side. In 1988, they formed Jackson Street Partners, a San Francisco-based real estate investment and venture capital firm. Since 2006, they have become involved in a wider range of private investments, as well as their philanthropic work with the Payne Family Foundation, and make their home in San Francisco. They have been generous donors to the Haas School; their most recent gift, to the Campaign for Haas, established the Lisle and Roslyn Payne Chair in Real Estate Capital Markets.


Q: You’re originally from Des Moines and have your MBA from Berkeley, while Roslyn is from Kansas City and received her MBA from Harvard. How did your paths cross?


Lisle: I was working in the real estate investment area as CEO of the Fox Group, and Roslyn was working at an investment banking firm in New York. In 1971, we both participated in a real estate securities industry meeting held in Chicago. Roslyn was the only female present—she was very easy to spot! We dated on a longdistance basis for two years and got married in 1973.


Q: What brought you to UC Berkeley for your MBA?


Lisle: My initial plans were to attend law school, but after working for a real estate developer in the summer of 1964, I decided to pursue an MBA. I was attracted to Cal because it had one of the few MBA programs available that focused on real estate. My choices were Chicago, NYU, or Berkeley, and I decided I wanted to come to Berkeley. At that time, professors Paul Wendt and Sherman Maisel were acknowledged as academic leaders in the world of real estate and finance.


Q: What are your memories of the university back in the ‘60s?


Lisle: Well, of course it was the Freedom of Speech era. Berkeley clearly had a wide range of students and faculty with differing opinions. It was a unique experience, especially for someone from Des Moines! However, the students with whom I interacted continued to work very hard. I came away feeling that Cal offered a great educational experience on many levels.


Roslyn: And 35 years later, in 2002, one of our sons received his BA from Berkeley in American Studies.


Q: So you’re an alumnus and both of you are Cal parents. Is that what has inspired you to give back so generously to the Haas School?


Lisle: One of the key things that attracted us to Haas as donors was that Roslyn and I had co-taught at the school as adjunct professors in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, teaching real estate investment and finance in the MBA program. We were very impressed with what was going on at the Fisher Center and with the leadership of Ken Rosen, and we worked closely with Bob Edelstein. We welcomed the opportunity to give back and to get further involved with the Fisher Center. It all relates back to our personal experience in teaching and enjoying our interaction with the students.


Roslyn: I’m involved philanthropically with Harvard University, both the business school and the School of Public Health. But I think our joint experience teaching at Berkeley really solidified our connection to Haas.


Q: Why did you both end up being so passionate about real estate?


Roslyn: Real estate is a significant component of our economy. Since the 1960s, it’s been an area that combines creativity with an opportunity to create value. We’re particularly interested in capital markets—we’ve seen what happens when credit markets are impaired. Berkeley has the intellectual scholars to investigate these issues. Going forward, we’re hopeful that the Haas School will continue to be a thought leader in this very important area.


Lisle: Successful real estate people tend to be very entrepreneurial and creative, and that’s what attracted me to Berkeley in the first place. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial environment and the opportunity for classroom interaction with real estate industry professionals. Dean Rich Lyons would say that the Haas School’s underlying themes are innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership, and I believe that these themes continue to resonate well at the Haas School.