A proud daughter has made a $100,000 donation to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to honor her father’s legacy in real estate.
Leslye Shellam, daughter of L. Dickson Flake, one of four original partners of the predecessor to Colliers International, made the donation to establish the L. Dickson Flake Endowed Scholarship during an Oct. 28 reception at the Bailey Alumni and Friends Center on the UA Little Rock campus.
“My father saw a great future for Little Rock. He was an avid Trojan fan, loved the university, and loved the education prospects,” Shellam said. “His goal for the scholarship is to give students the chance to get creative and able to concentrate on his or her vision to bring the real estate industry forth for the city and for the good of all of us who live here.”
The scholarship will be used to provide assistance for education-related expenses, including tuition, books, fees, and room and board, for undergraduate students pursuing a finance degree with an emphasis in real estate in the School of Business.
Flake, who passed away this summer at the age of 81, was well known in the Little Rock real estate community. In 1971, Dickson joined three partners to form Barnes, Quinn, Flake and Anderson, predecessor of the Little Rock – Bentonville commercial real estate firm of Colliers International, which is now the largest commercial real estate company in Arkansas.
In 1973, Flake was the youngest member to date invited to membership in the American Society of Real Estate Counselors in 1973. He served as the organization’s president in 1989. He was awarded the CCIM organization award from the Realtors National Marketing Institute and SIOR designation from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. In 1982, he received the Snyder Award from the CCIM organization for the most creative real estate exchange in the U.S. He was a member of The Little Rock Realtors Association, serving as its president in 1972 and was Arkansas Realtor of the Year in 1971.
“My dad lived real estate. He loved it dearly, lived it daily,” Shellam said. “It is so much more than a degree or a title. I think my dad really demonstrated and lived that. He was a true family man, provider, teacher, and always there when you needed him. The company, Colliers International, was his second family. It shows you how whatever you do, the dedication and the ethics that you do it with, expands much further. I am so grateful for the bridge that these families, dad’s and Colliers, continue to impact Little Rock’s future, and I can’t wait to see the results of the students who are embarking on this career.”
In addition to his prowess in the real estate community, Flake was a firm believer in the merits of higher education. He served as a member of the UA Little Rock Board of Visitors for 12 years and served as chairman in 1995 and 1996.
UA Little Rock’s College of Business began its real estate program in the 1970s, but the college began revising the program in 2016 with advice from the local real estate community.
“This donation reflects the importance of real estate in the local economy and of having an excellent real estate program at UA Little Rock,” said Dr. Mark Funk, chair of the Department of Finance. “Enrollment in the real estate program has doubled in the past few years.”
Elizabeth Small, former president and CEO of PDC Companies and PDC Construction, serves as the primary instructor for the real estate program. Since joining UA Little Rock, Small said the real estate program has placed an emphasis on building partnerships with the real estate community to provide opportunities for students to participate in real-world experiences before they graduate.
UA Little Rock’s Real Estate program includes an advisory board, established in 2019, comprised of industry professionals who consult on curriculum development, serve as guest presenters/teachers in the classroom, open their businesses for educational field trips, serve as mentors, and provide internship opportunities for students.
Small recalled how dedicated Flake was to the success of the UA Little Rock real estate program.
“He was a powerful voice of reason in a most pragmatic and sometimes subtle way,” Small said. “When transitioning from a career in real estate development to teach that very subject, I received a wonderful note of congratulations and encouragement from Dickson. Because Dickson’s words were always special and supportive, I kept that note and I always will.
When Dr. Wayland hired me to teach, my conversations with Dickson turned from the business of real estate to real estate education. He remained encouraging, supportive, and was clear about wanting us to produce graduates qualified to work not only in his office, but in other offices in the region. Dickson saw our students, as we do, as part of the economic development engine that keeps a region strong.”