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Remembering Matt Disston

Faculty member Matt Disston passed away in January 2024 from complications of colon cancer. He was 71 years old. Matt was a cherished member of our team. He was one of the first instructors hired to teach in the undergraduate program, bringing his expertise in development and market analysis to the classroom.

Matt had extensive background in real estate project management, marketing research and economic consulting for a broad spectrum of national and international clients. His resume included transient lodging, light industrial, office, single-family detached and multi-family residential feasibility analysis throughout California, Arizona and Nevada, traditional and entertainment retail feasibility in Mexico and Brazil, and consumer research throughout the United States. He was also responsible for the feasibility evaluation and market analysis for long-range planning of office, retail, hotel and industrial projects proposed on the 75,000-acre Irvine Ranch. Matt graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where he earned a bachelor’s degree in urban economics.

Here are a few words from faculty, staff and students…

“During the late 1970s, Matt Disston and I collaborated on refining and executing a master plan for 93,000 acres in Southern California. Decades later, I learned that Matt had relocated to Seattle. When the real estate department sought additional faculty with industry experience, I recommended Matt for the role. Over the past seven years, he has shared his knowledge and experience with grateful students.”

–Pike Oliver, Past Department Chair

“It’s with a heavy heart that I hear the news. Matt was a fantastic professor who always told it how it is. It’s been almost 4 years and I remember his teachings. I can vividly remember him saying ‘if it looks different, it is different.’ Which is a phrase he commonly said to explain the not so obvious. A phrase that comes up in my head quite often. It has benefited me in RE and other aspects of my life. Specifically, it’s helped me evaluate professional and personal complexities along with investment opportunities. Matt was one of a handful of professors that I’d write for and I will miss him.”

–Jack Simison, Undergraduate Alumni

“I was still shocked after I read your email about Professor Matt Disston. Matt taught me R E 416 in Spring 2023 and I will never forget about his amazing personality. Matt is a patient, knowledgeable, and humble professor. You can tell he really loves his market analysis career since when he talked about past work experience and projects, his eyes immediately lit up. I love Matt’s personal story. It is cool that he has a music degree and used to be in a rock band playing guitar. Matt did not get tired of me asking the same question more than three times. I remembered he said we will get to the bottom of that question no matter how many times we have to walk it through. What a pleasure to be one of his students! Please tell Matt’s family that I will pray for them and my deepest condolences to the family. I wish nothing but the best to Matt’s family and I am really sad that he passed away suddenly.”

–Shuhan Yi, Undergraduate Alumni

“He was always easy going and willing to help you out no matter what you needed. He was more interested in seeing students succeed than anything else. Also, he loved to show off his guitars to the class and was always finding ways to connect with us.”

–Ian Paul, Undergraduate Alumni

“Matt was a sweetheart. I loved talking to him about his kids and their accomplishments, and how proud and excited he was to become a grandpa. I will miss him dearly.”

–Melissa Best, Runstad Department staff