Hanna Family Gives $1 Million to Aid Business Students

Issue Date: 
November 3, 2014

A Pittsburgh realtor who turned an initial $60 investment into one of the nation’s largest real estate companies is the inspiration for a substantial gift to the university where he got his start in business.

TheHoward Hanna Jr. and John Delaney Howard Hanna family has provided a gift of $1 million to the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration to provide need-based financial support for graduate and undergraduate business students. Two endowed scholarship funds are being established with the gift, which will honor the impressive achievements and contributions of Pitt alumnus Howard Hanna Jr., founder of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services and the Howard Hanna Foundation.

“Establishing support for talented students in need of financial assistance is fundamental to the University of Pittsburgh’s role as a leader in education. We are grateful that the Hanna family has partnered with our business school to create scholarships that will enable ambitious students to become future leaders—leaders like Howard, who embraced his Pitt education and set his aspirations high for success,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “We are thankful for the remarkable generosity of the Hanna family.”   

“For years, Howard and the Hanna family have demonstrated the highest caliber of professional leadership, and, in doing so, have grown the business exponentially, while improving the lives of many in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. It has long been my honor to count them as friends of the business school, and, today, I am deeply grateful for their generous gift. The funds will create scholarships to ensure that students with a financial need can secure a high-quality business education for many years to come,” said John T. Delaney, dean of the Katz School and College of Business Administration.

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services is a familiar name in Pittsburgh, where the company’s green and gold signs can be seen in yards and on storefronts throughout the city. Founded in 1957 in a single two-person office at the corner of Bayard Street and Craig Street in Oakland, it has grown to 170 office locations in eight states from Michigan to North Carolina.

Howard W. Hanna Jr., and his wife, Anne Freyvogel Hanna, founded the company, which has grown into the fourth-largest real estate company in the United States with more than 6,200 employees. The business has expanded to include mortgage, title insurance, appraisal and insurance services, relocation assistance, and land development. Three generations of the Hanna family are currently involved in Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, including son Howard W. “Hoddy” Hanna III, chairman and CEO; daughter Helen Hanna Casey, president; daughter Annie Hanna Cestra, executive vice president and chief operating officer; and five grandchildren (four of whom are Pitt graduates), who are in the management of the company.

After earning a Bachelor of Business Administration from Pitt in 1942, Howard Hanna Jr. served in the U.S. Army during World War II as an American Liaison Officer with the British Army in India and returned to Pitt to earn his Master of Letters degree in 1949. After brief stints in Uniontown, Pa., and Cleveland, he and wife Anne returned to Pittsburgh for good. The business, which began with an investment of $25 for the one-room office, $15 for Hanna Jr.’s real estate license, and $20 for a phone, would grow over time from a local enterprise into a regional and then national real estate company. 

“The University of Pittsburgh has been an important cornerstone in my dad’s life, in the Hanna family, and in the real estate company that bears his name. His abilities allowed him to graduate from Pitt with both undergraduate and master’s degrees in business. The Howard W. Hanna Jr. scholarship funds are a small repayment so that future generations can receive the same grounding in leadership that our father received from the University of Pittsburgh,” said Howard W. “Hoddy” Hanna III.