Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Marshall Cohn Named 2017 Distinguished Alum

The College of Social Sciences and Public Policy has named Marshall Cohn its Distinguished Alumnus for 2017.

Cohn (B.S. ’81) has been engaging with FSU for years in many capacities, so a little more than five years ago when then Dean David Rasmussen told him about a new program for undergraduates he was establishing at the college, Marshall was one of the first to “hop aboard.”

The Social Science Scholars program provides unique and valuable opportunities for the most outstanding students in the college, chosen through a highly competitive process. Thanks to financial support from Marshall Cohn and alums like him, these students are able to take leadership seminars, develop service projects they want to carry out in the summer after their junior year, and travel throughout the globe to complete these projects designed to improve the economic, educational, and social well-being of the communities they serve.

“I’ve always been impressed by the caliber of the typical FSU student, but these Social Science Scholars are truly exceptional,” he says. “I’m convinced that many of them are going to change the world.”

Marshall believes so strongly in the program that he also serves as an interviewer, helping to choose the annual cohort of 18 students from dozens of applicants.

He also gives back in a way we encourage all of our alumni to do: by sharing his professional expertise with students who hope to follow career paths similar to his.

In 1989, he and partner Robert Winters founded The Dunhill Companies, a boutique commercial real estate firm providing personalized services to both institutional and private clients in the Central Florida market. Today he credits his success to his time at FSU, where he earned his undergraduate degree in economics and real estate.

“My introduction to and education in real estate was the random result of needing a business elective course as an undergrad and having a friend suggest one he was enrolled in,” he explains. “The professor, John Lewis, was an illuminating speaker and encouraged me to seek a career in the commercial real estate industry.”

Marshall, who earned his master’s degree from the University of Central Florida, looks back fondly on his four years at FSU – “among the happiest of my life” – and appreciates what he calls “the unique esprit de corps” among students and faculty that he still finds is so strong when he returns to campus to lecture and mentor students.

For several years, he has been involved in teaching classes at FSU because, he says, “I wouldn’t want students going out into the industry without an exposure to some practical uses of real estate analytics.”

He is a teaching assistant for an online MBA class in real estate finance and this fall began doing the same for a real estate valuation course. For the past 16 years, his company has been a sponsor of the university’s annual Real Estate Trends Conference, and he has made legacy gifts to the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy and the College of Business.

For his service and distinction in his field, Marshall Cohn was awarded the Florida State University Real Estate Network Award in 2014. And now he is our Distinguished Alumnus of the year.

“I am truly honored to be selected and humbly accept this accolade not as an indication of what I have done or will do for Florida State University, but as an inspiration to other alumni who are considering contributing to an institution which I hold in esteem and affection.”