By Liz Warren-Pederson
Humberto Lopez, Eller accounting ’69, has been working for a long time, but he doesn’t think of it as work. “It’s just doing what I love,” he said.
Lopez, the oldest of six children, started contributing to his family at a young age. “My father died when I was eleven,” he explained. “I told my mother I would take care of her.” He aimed to be wealthy one day. “I had that drive from the beginning,” Lopez said.
After graduating with an accounting degree in 1969, he joined Haskins & Sells – now Deloitte. “I always thought that my accounting degree would be a great stepping stone in my career,” he said, and five and a half years later, he made it just that when he shifted into real estate and launched HSL Properties. “I figured if all else fails, I’ll go back to accounting,” he said. “I was creative and good with numbers and not afraid to take a chance.”
That was a lesson he picked up in one of a couple of books that were influential in his professional life. “One is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” he said. “It taught me to think of the worst thing that could happen in every situation that I found myself in, and if I could accept it, I moved on, otherwise I didn’t. The other influential book? William Nickerson’s How I Turned $1,000 into a Million in Real Estate. Using its principles, he grew his company, and by 1980, had sold his interests in six states and returned to Tucson from Los Angeles.
He became engaged with the University right away, joining the President’s Club, the UA Foundation board, and the Eller College National Board of Advisors. Along the way, he connected with Dan Dhaliwal, head of the accounting department. “He’s a friend of mine,” Lopez said. Now Lopez has made a new, four-year commitment to the department that will support a speaker series that connects students with distinguished researchers and industry professionals, as well as physical improvements to the accounting seminar room.
“He’s one of those guys who has been so good to us for many years now and we are grateful for the trust and confidence he has in our ability to use his gift effectively,” said Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal sees his department’s mission as ensuring the best possible placement outcomes for students at every level – undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral. That goal is closely connected to hiring and retaining the best faculty. “World-class research ensures that we develop the best material for the classroom,” he said. “And our world-class teachers are genuinely committed to the placement of every student who walks into the department. I tell them to think of the students as their own children, to get involved, and help advise them as they prepare for their careers. The students sense and appreciate that level of investment.”
The students celebrated Lopez’s involvement and support during the annual undergraduate Night with the Stars event in May. Lopez was named Eller College Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.
Lopez currently serves on the boards of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, APS, Paragon Vision, and Sinfonia. Since 1975, his HSL Properties has formed over 100 partnerships, acquiring and developing over 25,000 apartments and other commercial real estate totaling over $1 billion.
Top image of HLS Properties’ Encantada at Dove Mountain.