The University Financing Foundation
Vice President of Operations
Passionate about place-based design and the convergence of university/industry relationships, Mason Ailstock has been leading the physical and social development of university research parks and innovation districts for more than 13 years. Mason serves as the Vice President of Operations for The University Financing Foundation (TUFF). TUFF is a private 501(c)3 that partners with institutions around the country in the achievement of their education and research mission through facility investments providing the assets needed to achieve their core goals. Mason serves as a member of the TUFF executive leadership team where he will oversee strategy and operations for the firm, which has invested over $1 billion since its founding in 1982.
Prior to joining TUFF, Mason served as the Chief Operating Officer of the 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park (RTP) where he led the operational, business development, marketing, real estate, and partnership strategies of the largest high-tech research park in North America. As COO, Mason was responsible for the recruitment and retention of private sector companies, the development of mixed-use projects involving multiple stakeholders, strengthening relationships with economic development leaders, and expanding partnerships with the three founding Tier 1 research universities as well as the 220 companies located within RTP. Mason’s combination of experiences in the areas of planning, green building, architecture, private sector engagement, and real estate allow him to effectively analyze opportunities and deliver clear strategies.
Preceding his time at RTP, Mason served as the Global Partner Manager at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) located in Greenville South Carolina. While in this position, Mason led collaborations with university researchers, quasi-governmental entities, and private corporations to create dynamic economic and business development strategies. Mason played key roles in the master plan and business development successes of the 250-acre research campus accounting for nearly $250,000,000 in investments, 17 resident companies, 5 LEED facilities, nearly $4,000,000 in competitive federal grants, and over 50 companies supporting sponsored and directed research.
Mason received his Bachelors of Science in Architecture & Design, and his Masters in Planning & Real Estate from Clemson University. Mason proudly serves as the President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), a 2016 Eisenhower Fellow, US Green Building Council LEED BD+C, and is a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI).