Bergstrom Center honors Alumnus of the Year for decades of advocacy and service

The University of Florida Warrington College of Business is proud to honor Steven DeRose (BA ’03, BSBA ’03, MSF ’04) as the Bergstrom Real Estate Center’s Alumnus of the Year.

DeRose is the Senior Vice President at Starwood Mortgage Capital, where he is responsible for originating, structuring and closing loans on all property types for securitization. Prior to his current role, he served as a director at Tannery Brook Partners, a boutique real estate investment bank, and as a director in the Wells Fargo Securities’ Special Situations Group, where he oversaw a $1.3 billion loan portfolio.

With decades of experience in high-stakes markets, DeRose is a profound contributor to the Bergstrom Center. He has guest lectured in Warrington’s Secondary Mortgage class for the past 19 years and as a Ring Distinguished Speaker, never misses a meeting for the UF Real Estate Advisory Board and is serving this year as chair of the Real Estate Trends & Strategies Conference.

This isn’t the first time DeRose has been recognized for his investment. In 2014, he received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the University of Florida, an award that recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves in their profession and community.

In addition to guest lecturing, DeRose has mentored students within Warrington’s MBA, Master of Science in Finance (MSF) and Master of Science in Real Estate programs. This year, he even started a book club to help students understand the Federal Reserve, reading “The Lords of Easy Money” by Christopher Leonard.

“For me, the best takeaway I got from the book club was being able to hear Steve connect everything we were learning about in the book with his real-world experiences in the industry,” said Clayton Gardner (MSRE ‘24). “Often in school, we learn about these Federal policies but never really get a sense of what this really looks like in the industry. As someone who wants to work in the finance industry, being able to hear a first-hand experience of these significant market events was the most beneficial part for me.”

DeRose has a reputation for advocating on behalf of students looking for jobs and helping them prepare for interviews. Ever since he graduated, he has connected MSF students with senior associates at Wells Fargo Securities to recruit students within the program. Because of his efforts, Wells Fargo Securities hires as many as five MSF students each year – 20% of the graduating class.

“The Wells Fargo relationship was one of the first investment banks to regularly hire UF MSF students,” David Brown shared, BB&T Professor of Free Enterprise and director of the MSF program. “Successful placements at Wells Fargo Securities piqued interest in applying to the MSF program. Without Steve’s efforts, the program’s trajectory would have been very different.”

DeRose’s confidence in Warrington’s students doesn’t just come from school pride – he advocates for students because he is actively involved in helping them realize their potential, and knows they are among the best.

His interest in helping current students succeed mirrors his own enthusiasm from his college years. Ken and Linda McGurn Professor and Director of the Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate program David Ling recalls DeRose’s engagement when he enrolled in one of his courses.

“I remember that he stopped by my office more times during that semester than the rest of the students combined!” Ling said. “He was not trolling for inside information on the next exam or asking for leniency on an exam or an assignment. Rather, he wanted to engage in in-depth discussions about capital markets, in general, and real estate markets, in particular.

“He was extremely hardworking, thoughtful and curious. So, I am not at all surprised by the successful career he has built.”

Paying it forward, DeRose now reaches out to individual students like Gardener to engage in similar conversations, especially to coach students through mock-interviews. When Gardner applied for a position with a commercial real estate debt fund, DeRose reached out personally to Gardner not once, but three times to offer advice and discuss topics to bring up in his interviews. His input helped Gardner feel prepared and make it through the second round of interviews.

“Steve has been unrelenting in his support of the Center and our students,” said Tim Becker, executive director of the Bergstrom Center. “Even though he is a highly successful professional with tremendous demands on his time, Steve never says no. His willingness to invest in our students makes our students more prepared for their next job and elevates the image of our programs in the eye of employers and future students.”

DeRose is the 19th alumnus to be honored with the Alumnus of the Year award. The award is given to a Warrington graduate who has made an impactful and sustained contribution to real estate education at the University of Florida. All recipients are friends of the Center who have gone above and beyond to grow the presence of the college’s real estate program.

“We are fortunate to have many alums and industry friends actively engaged with our students and the Bergstrom Center,” Ling expressed. “However, Steve’s commitment to our students and faculty is truly exemplary!”