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A Scholar’s Farewell: Reflecting on the Legacy of Professor Crocker H. Liu

As Professor Crocker H. Liu retires from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the impact he has made on students, faculty, and the broader field of real estate finance. Known for his challenging coursework, martial arts stories, and collection of Hawaiian T-shirts, Professor Liu has left a mark on many who have had the pleasure of working with him.


Professor Liu’s Academic Journey

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Professor Liu pursued his BBA in Real Estate from the University of Hawaii, an MS in Real Estate from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD in Finance and Real Estate from the University of Texas. His academic career began at the University of Texas, where he served as an Assistant Instructor in Real Estate before moving to New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1988. At NYU, he held various positions, including Associate Director of Real Estate. He won multiple teaching awards for his methods, such as Undergraduate Teacher of the Year and Executive MBA in Finance Teacher of the Year.

In 2006, Professor Liu joined Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business as the McCord Chair and Director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice. By 2009, he transitioned to Cornell University, where he became the Robert A. Beck Professor of Hospitality Financial Management and Professor of Real Estate at Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. 


Research and Contributions

With over fifty-five academic publications, Professor Liu’s research has significantly advanced the real estate field. His work spans agency, corporate governance, market efficiency, and valuation issues. He has been published in premier journals like the Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Financial Economics, and Journal of Urban Economics. He served as co-editor of Real Estate Economics from 2001 to 2014 and remains on its editorial board.

Crocker Liu’s dedication to research has earned him numerous accolades, including seven research awards and a place among the most cited scholars in real estate finance. He was a member of Lambda Alpha, an honorary land economics fraternity, and received the Power Player of the Year Award from the Phoenix Business Journal in 2007 and 2008.


Colleague, Mentor, and Martial Arts Enthusiast

Cornell faculty members held a luncheon and symposium in honor of Crocker Liu.


In addition to his research accomplishments, Professor Liu is recognized for his academic guidance and professional contributions. Cornell faculty deeply respect his willingness to support their publications and challenge their assumptions. Throughout his career, Professor Liu has teamed up with others on numerous research projects, working with scholars like Stuart Rosenthal on the built environment and debating the role of anchor tenants in various types of buildings. His involved approach to these projects often led to spirited discussions and new insights:

“For example, Stuart Rosenthal, we’re four papers in now, and we’re always having these lively debates. For one of our papers, I argued that anchor tenants matter in the real world and that they can help fill up a building. He assumed it was only for shopping centers, not office buildings. However, after two years, we found there was a lot of specialization. For example, on Wall Street, you have a lot of financial tenants. But if the anchor tenant is a law firm, the building is not a financial building – it’s a law building. It was a great discussion that led to a new discovery.”


Faculty members pose with Crocker Liu following his retirement dinner.

Beyond his esteemed reputation among faculty members, Professor Liu has become a mentor and catalyst for many students in their professional careers. Inspired by his mentor at the University of Wisconsin, James A. Graaskamp, who often jested that, “You can’t eat a footnote,” Crocker adopted a teaching methodology that highlighted the importance of real-life applications alongside real estate theory. This hands-on approach has secured work opportunities for numerous students.

“When I was working, I found 85% of companies were assigning cases or looking for professional materials from graduates. So, at NYU, I started giving cases. And a lot of my students started getting jobs out of it.” Crocker reflected.

Students also celebrated Crocker Liu’s retirement on the last day of the 2024 spring semester.


Crocker Liu will also be remembered for practicing martial arts in Statler Hall, often late at night:

“[Statler] actually had cameras, which go through the hallways. I didn’t know this, so at night, I’m doing my routine outside my office. Eventually, I was pulled into the dean’s office. He asked me, ‘Why are you doing martial arts in the hallways late?’”

Learning the indoor discipline of martial arts from esteemed fighters such as Grandmaster Li Tai-Liang and Master Chen, Crocker Liu’s unconventional habits illustrate his disciplined and passionate approach to life, both in and out of the classroom.


A Lasting Legacy 

The Cornell community bids farewell to Professor Crocker H. Liu with deep gratitude for fifteen years of service, mentorship, and institutional knowledge. His career is a remarkable example of dedication and intellectual prowess, setting a high standard for all who follow in his footsteps. When asked how his class has helped students in their professional careers, Crocker joked, “It’s funny because a lot of times, you don’t realize the benefits and the method to the madness until you’re out about five years.”

Professor Liu plans to continue his research in retirement and delve deeper into traditional Chinese medicine. He also looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Charlene Liu, and three sons, Graam, Makana, and Kupono.


If you are interested in reading Professor Liu’s past work or staying in touch with his research, please refer to the publication list on his CV here.