December 26, 2012


“I have always been impressed and greatly respect Michael’s broad depth of knowledge and understanding related to program, design, product development, transaction structure, day to day operations, business administration, facilities maintenance and residence and student development. He always has a grasp on the big picture objectives and understands how all the functional components must come together to achieve success.  I found Michael to be tough, fair, fiercely committed to the values and objectives of his University but always cognizance and aware of the realities of the transaction and the needs of private sector. Bottom line – he finds win-win solutions where the end result is students receiving the highest quality products at the most affordable rates, in an environment conducive to academic achievement.”

Bill Bayless
President & CEO
American Campus Communities

“In the course of working closely with Michael Coakley in my capacity as a Board Member and Past President of Arizona Capital Facilities Finance Corporation, he consistently demonstrated a strong understanding of complex public financing and management structures and agreements. Michael was a critical team member working with the Board and our Attorneys and Bond Underwriters to create transactional structures that worked for Arizona State University, the Bondholders and our 501(c)(4) Corporation.”

John Benton
Board Member
Arizona Capital Facilities Finance Corporation


“Beginning with the selection of Inland American Communities’ by way of an RFP process in 2009, followed by the negotiation of a variety of complex real estate and operating agreements and continuing through planning, design and construction, Michael Coakley acted as our primary public-private-partnership point of contact facilitating discussions with and approvals by numerous Arizona State University departments and student groups resulting in the development and construction of a 318 bed freshman residence hall and a 20,000 square foot Dining Pavilion on the ASU Polytechnic Campus.  Michael’s capacity for seeing the big picture and promoting collaborative and timely decision making made delivering these projects on time and on budget considerably easier.  Michael acted as a true partner and a true professional at all times.”

Ross Robb
Director of Development – Public Private Partnerships
Inland American Communities Group


“Michael Coakley consistently provides a clear vision and design leadership throughout the process of creating cutting edge and high performance educational and student housing facilities.  He always makes sure the team stays focused on the student as the ultimate client and the most direct user of the spaces.”

“While the process of creating high performance educational facilities can be a very complicated endeavor, I have always relied on Michael to be the calm with in the storm ensuring the team keeps perspective on creating timeless learning environments.”

Beau Dromiack, A.I.A., D.B.I.A.
Senior Associate
R S P  A R C H I T E C T S


“Getting private sector and higher education partners to work together effectively isn’t always easy.  Michael understands these challenges and has demonstrated a deft touch in delivering successful projects through public/private partnership.  From RFP through negotiations to project delivery, Michael keeps the process moving and makes sure that all involved are communicating and working together. “

Neil Calfee
Director, University Real Estate Development
University Real Estate Development
Arizona State University


“Michael Coakley is a true leader in Student Life within Higher Education. Dedicated to successful student development through proactive and creative programming, design and construction, Michael thinks out of the box to balance seemingly disparate goals and create successful consensus on projects. I have enjoyed and benefited from working with Michael on institutional and privatized developments. Years of development experience has proven Michael as a knowledgeable and collaborative administrative leader and member of private public partnerships. As a fellow co-founder of the 21st Century Project, Michael has elevated the dialogue and creative design for student housing that is forward thinking. Michael’s organizational skills and dedication to the idea of the 21st Century Project is what made the program a success with an expansive collaborative network. My experiences working with Michael formulated my view that he is a thought leader and doer in student housing who knows how to achieve successful outcomes.”

Jim Curtin
Senior Principal
Solomon Cordwell Buenz


“I had the pleasure of working with Michael Coakley on two student recreation center projects for Arizona State University – distinctive facilities for the University’s Downtown and Tempe campuses.  As student fee-funded projects, Michael championed their outreach and engagement from the earliest definition of the program goals to the refinement of project details.  His leadership belied extraordinarily aggressive project schedules to convey an almost effortless sense of interaction and collaboration among the wide array of stakeholder groups.

When the inevitable challenges were encountered, Michael’s deep knowledge and intuition for both owner- and student-centered priorities informed decisive resolutions.  Aware that Michael was simultaneously representing multiple student life projects (in addition to ‘ours’), I was routinely amazed by the depth of his engagement and understanding of detailed project issues.“

Tim M. Stevens, AIA LEED AP
Associate Principal
Solomon Cordwell Buenz


“Southwest Contract has worked with Michael on the development, design and furnishing of almost 4200 beds since 2007.  The projects have been both public and public/private.  Michael has the unique capability of bringing parties together to create state-of-the-art university housing environments.  We would recommend his participation in any housing project”

Lee Thompson,
Southwest Contract


“It was my pleasure to work directly with Michael Coakley on two new student recreation centers for the ASU Poly and ASU West campuses which were part of a larger plan to transform the two campuses.  These projects were unique because they combined privately financed housing with campus funded dining facilities and student funded recreation centers.  His vision, integrity and commitment was a constant source of stability and focus for the entire team; from the myriad of ASU departments involved in design and construction, the investors, the campuses, the CMAR builders, to the multiple design teams on the six concurrent projects.”

Tom Reilly AIA


“I have worked with Michael on a variety of university projects where he has been instrumental in coordinating the diverse and many needs of the institution, while always guiding the projects to achieve a superior student life experience on each campus. His passion and knowledge is invaluable and dramatically influences the success of every project he is involved in.  His leadership in the 21st Century project for ACHOU and other state of the art thinking on student housing has been invaluable on helping us design and implement outstanding university projects. He is extremely well organized and able to coordinate and navigate diverse institutional organizations with ease while also seamlessly working side by side with the design team.  I can think of no other that brings so much to the table. His myriad of skill sets also includes client representation, campus planning, student housing design, financial strategies, project coordination and programming. Whether the project is public, private or combination thereof.”

John F. Kane FAIA
LEED AP  Principal


“Our experience working on the Arizona State University Sun Devil Fitness Centers with Michael Coakley was remarkable. As the Owner’s project representative for these projects, along with concurrent student housing and dining projects, Michael consistently organized his team to provide very clear direction for the design team. His collaborative leadership encourages the entire team to participate in creating a vision for the project.  Beyond team leadership, Michael’s passion for improving the quality of student life and how well-planned spaces can create positive campus experiences drives his approach on a project. This passion made Michael a valuable asset and resulted in a meaningful project experience and an exemplary end product.”

Anton Foss, Principal
James Braam, Senior Designer
360 Architects


“Michael (Coakley) is truly a visionary for the collegiate housing profession.  As Chair for the ACUHO-I 21 Century Project his leadership changed the conversation and set the stage for what student housing of the future will be.”

-Sallie Traxler, Executive Director
The Association of College and University Housing Officers – International


“What Michael brought to our project was the ability to get to the right (enterprise) solutions, not those that only served a faction of the greater endeavor.  He accomplished this feat by: approaching each decision from the perspective of the stakeholder; by keeping the entire team focused on results (not process); and by getting 1+1 to be more than 2 — synergizing ideas to produce value from multiple perspectives.  I can confidently say, without Michael we would have never arrived at such a successful outcome.  I look forward to working with Michael and his team in the future.”

Ryan Abbott
Sundt Construction, Inc.


Michael Coakley took the time to introduce me to the many “movers and shakers” within both the student housing and the REIT network including such companies American Campus Communities and Inland American Communities at this last ACUHO-I Conference and Exposition.  It is obvious that he is both knowledgeable and connected and these contacts will help USS down the road.

Vin Peseski,
University and Student Services


“Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company, architects and planners, have known, worked with, and deeply respected the higher education experience of Michael Coakley for over 15 years.

Michael provided visionary leadership of ACUHO-I, the industry association for student residential professionals, and was a highly knowledgeable client for several planning, housing, and dining projects undertaken by our firm. He was a driving influence in the 21st Century Project, an ambitious goal setting and design competition to articulate the trends and influences shaping student residence environments of the 21st Century.

He has a deep knowledge of the many aspects of auxiliary service enterprises in the campus setting. He has been engaged in third party financing for facilities, space programming, new construction, renovations, and housing system master planning. His very broad experience offers valuable assistance on housing, dining, recreation and many other campus services.

Michael Coakley was the rare client who had both a complete management and operations perspective regarding a project or design, and aspirational design and student success outcomes understanding.”


Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company
Jane Cady Wright, FAIA
S. Michael Evans, FAIA
Rob Reis, AIA


“Through ACUHO-I, I have been a professional colleague of Michael Coakley for many years. The commitment and skill that are the hallmark of his work for the profession through ACUHO-I, are only amplified in his university professional life. Michael was one of the visionaries that created “The 21St Century Project” that created the specifications for a 21st century residence, hosted a juried competition to select the architect and approve the design, and find a physical home for the construction of the building. This 21st Century residence is being constructed on the campus of Indiana University. This is an extraordinary accomplishment in conservative academia. Michael also consults for unit reviews, and was a part of the team that completed our departmental review here at Ohio State. The exercise and final product have proven to be valuable for us, appropriately challenging us in weaker areas, but also acknowledging our strengths.

Based on his experience, his skills and breadth of knowledge, his understanding of higher education, I believe Michael offers great value to any institution looking for the perspective of a skilled outside consultant.”

Fred Fotis,
Assistant Vice President for Student Life,
The Ohio State University


Working with Michael these last few years has been an extreme pleasure. We were fortunate enough to collaborate on two concurrent recreation complexes for Arizona State University.  With projects of this size, so often goals are forgotten or compromised.  Not with this team!  Michael worked with student representatives for over a year before we were brought on board, organizing and empowering them to identify their priorities and be their own advocates.  Michael’s leadership and expertise brought a focus and energy to both projects.  Following his lead, the collaborative project teams — including the students, faculty, and staff at ASU, the design and construction teams — were uniformly committed to delivering exciting, engaging, and active facilities.  Students’ goals were continually reinforced and celebrated.  Innovative outreach workshops and social media networking kept students engaged throughout the process.

Michael sees these buildings as more than mere recreation facilities.  He values them as investments in university culture, integral to the overall health and development of the campus community and lasting relationships built within their walls.

I am personally thankful for the opportunity to work beside Michael and learn from his passion.  I am proud of the projects we helped create, and look forward to our next collaboration.

Brie Smith
Formerly with Architekton


I have had the pleasure of working with Michael Coakley for over seven years as an architect and consultant to Arizona State University (ASU). Michael’s ability to organize and facilitate decision making within the complex institutional framework of ASU has proven critical to the success of Studio Ma’s ASU projects. His understanding of modern university student life, major institutional financial drivers and complex, multi-stakeholder academic needs gives Michael a unique perspective required in order to successfully partner with University clients.
Michael has been an integral part of pioneering complex Private/Public/Partnership (PPP) deals that have transformed ASU into a 24/7 campus with a vibrant student life focus at its core. His knowledge of how to leverage the best possible value from these complex financial deals will be a vital asset to both University and private companies who wish to engage in similar PPPs.

Michael’s demonstrated expertise in University Student Life is expressed as a founding member of the Association of College and University Housing- International (ACUHO-I)’s 21st Century Project- a think tank at the forefront of student housing innovation. His insights into the latest trends in product
type, amenities, academic programs and campus social interaction are invaluable to any University housing project’s development team.

Consensus building during various stages of development is the basis of University approvals for all projects. Michael understands the appropriate level of organization required to attain efficient and effective approvals. Structuring committees, organizing programming/design charrettes and reviews with stakeholders are all critical to development timelines which

Michael has consistently kept on schedule in order to guide projects to their successful completion.
Michael’s “can-do” attitude and positive demeanor are key elements to this success, fostering a collegial attitude and cooperation within the entire project team, regardless of the pressures and stresses that often come with a complex delivery process. Michael is a delight to work with and I highly recommend Coakley and Colleagues as a key consultant to any future University Student Housing development team.

Christiana Moss, AIA
Principal, Studio Ma, Inc.