Giving back to his alma mater is a priority for David Santee, a 1982 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.

A 30-year real estate industry executive and West Virginia native, he is well aware of the financial burdens of college students, so he demonstrated his dedication to helping undergraduate students by funding needs-based scholarships at the business school.

Santee, a finance graduate of B&E and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Equity Residential in Chicago, has generously established the David S. Santee Scholarship. The $100,000 endowment is designed to create scholarships for business undergraduate students who demonstrate a financial need and are residents of the state, with first preference going to students from his native Kanawha County.

“Growing up in West Virginia and then living in major cities all over the country for most of my professional life allowed me to realize the sense of family and work ethic that exists in West Virginia. I have far exceeded my expectations both professionally and financially – mostly as a result of a strong work ethic and to make my friends and family in West Virginia proud,” Santee said. “Some say you are a product of your environment, and I believe that. I know there are people in West Virginia, and specifically Kanawha County, who have that drive and strong work ethic, but may not have the means to realize their full potential. I feel a responsibility to create opportunities for my friends and West Virginia family to be able to achieve more. My experience at WVU still lingers in my memory each and every day.”

Born in Morgantown and raised in Charleston, Santee has strong ties to the state. He embarked on his career in the apartment community industry beginning in 1982 at Oakwood Worldwide. In November 1994, Santee began with Equity Residential and has served as executive vice president of operations since January 2007. What was once a $600 million company in 1993, just a year before Santee was hired, has skyrocketed to become a $40 billion multi-family real estate investment trust today.

Since 2013, Santee has also served as the chief operating officer for the Chicago-based company. Equity Residential was founded by renowned entrepreneur Sam Zell in 1969, who currently serves as chairman. It is the largest publicly traded apartment real estate investment trust in the world with hundreds of properties in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

“Benefactors like Mr. Santee give our students a competitive advantage when entering the workforce. Scholarships he has made possible enable our business students to pursue opportunities in and out of the classroom, and carry less debt upon graduation,” said Javier Reyes, B&E Milan Puskar Dean. “Our students gain a greater sense of awareness and responsibility, which prompts them to consider giving back later in their own careers to our school, our university or other philanthropic endeavors. Mr. Santee’s work ethic, success and generosity show our students the true meaning of being a Mountaineer.”

The gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The private fundraising effort runs through December 2017.

For more information on Santee and his career, please read his Q&A in the Fall 2015 edition of B&E Magazine. For more information on the WVU College of Business and Economics, follow B&E on Twitter at @wvucobe or visit



CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.