Bill Bayless is the co-founder, president and chief executive officer of American Campus Communities, the nation’s largest developer, owner and manager of high quality student housing. Today, more than 130,000 college students call one of American Campus’ 200-plus student properties “home” in more than 80 collegiate markets. The company currently has a total enterprise value approaching $7 billion.
Bayless first forged his vision of what would someday become American Campus Communities, while he was still a student at WVU. In the 1980’s, the mainstream real estate industry avoided student housing – they saw operational risk, undesirable tenants, and risky investment. Bayless however, saw students and parents as under-served consumers, worthy of better products & services. After graduating from WVU in 1986, Bayless worked to establish student housing divisions within traditional real-estate companies in Columbus, Ohio and Houston, Texas.
In 1993, he co-founded American Campus Communities with a mission “to be the nation’s premier provider of quality student housing communities and services through a unique understanding of, and an unrelenting commitment to: students, parents and educational institutions…”
From 1993 to 2003, Bayless established the company as the premier third party developer and manager of student housing pioneering large development transactions with the SUNY system, the University of California System and the Texas A&M University System. Simultaneously he grew American Campus’ owned off-campus portfolio to a $250 million using New York-based venture capital.
In 2004 Bayless led the student housing industry to a new plateau when American Campus Communities became the first publicly traded student housing company in the nation, introducing the sector to Wall Street and commencing the process of mainstreaming student housing as an asset class among institutional investors. In 2011, American Campus achieved another industry first when the company received an investment grade rating from both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. Since its IPO, American Campus has averaged a compounded annual growth rate in net operating income in excess of 30 percent and American Campus’ stock has delivered a total shareholder return of or more than 275 percent, outperforming the Morgan Stanley REIT Index, the S&P 500, the Dow and the NASDAQ. Bayless’ vision, passion and tenacious determination goes beyond the success and prominence of American Campus as his efforts have played a key role in establishing the entire student housing sector as a well-respected asset class within the commercial real estate industry.
In 2007, Bayless’ professional accomplishments were recognized when he received the regional Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award He was subsequently named as a national finalist. Under Bayless’ leadership, American Campus Communities received national accolades in 2013 when it was named “Development Firm of the Year” by the National Association of Home Builders, and simultaneously was named by Forbes as one of “America’s 100 Most Trustworthy Companies.” In May 2015, Commercial Property Executive featured Bayless as one of commercial real estate’s Most Innovative Executives. Bayless has also appeared in prominent publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and The New York Times; has made numerous appearances on CNBC; and has been featured on ABC’s Nightline. American Campus has also been named One of Texas’ Best Places to Work on three different occasions.
Bayless serves as the Chairman and was instrumental in the formation of American Campus Charities Foundation, which supports charitable activities focused on disadvantaged youth and education in our hometown of Austin, Texas. He also currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the Rise School of Austin, which serves special needs children.