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Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approves new undergraduate degree in real estate

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 7, 2012 – The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a new undergraduate degree in real estate. The State Council for Higher Education in Virginia will review the program for final approval in early 2013.

The university expects the program to launch in fall 2013. The first graduates will be current students who decide to add real estate as a second major or those who have already completed most of the coursework for the major.

The degree will transcend traditional college boundaries as a comprehensive, interdisciplinary academic program that will be a partnership among six colleges – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Pamplin College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and College of Natural Resources and Environment.

“The program is the first undergraduate degree program of its kind at Virginia Tech and across the country,” said Daniel Wubah, vice president for undergraduate education and deputy provost. “Typical real estate programs are organized in colleges of business. This program intentionally crosses more disciplines to produce well-rounded professionals who understand and can manage financial transaction, permitting and site design, building construction, and practices property management.”

The unique curriculum will provide graduates with a solid academic foundation to succeed in a challenging real estate industry that was hit hard by the recent recession. Despite the tough market, real estate professionals will be in demand as sustainable living options and workspace will be needed to accommodate a projected 42 percent growth in the U.S. population by 2050.

“Graduates will be broadly trained and understand a variety of academic disciplines critical to the modern real estate professional,” said Kevin Boyle, director of the real estate program. “The program will address current challenges in the industry by empowering students to understand market complexities, minimizing negative effects of real estate cycles, and leading efforts for sustainability.”

Building on existing strengths at the university, most of the program’s required and elective courses are already offered at Virginia Tech through the six participating colleges.

In addition, current real estate professionals will be incorporated into the program, helping to develop and deliver the curriculum. Already, four professionals – Willis Blackwood, president of Blackwood Development Company Inc.; William Elliott, managing partner of Medalist Properties; Michael Miller, president and CEO of MGMiller Valuations; and William Park, president of Pinnacle Construction & Development Corporation – have been instrumental in recognizing the need for the program and contributing time and resources to cultivate it.

“The industry is in dire need of broadly trained graduates who understand a variety of academic disciplines and work in a team environment to solve issues,” said Park. “Virginia Tech is ideally positioned to leverage its various colleges to provide graduates who understand the real estate industry’s market complexities and will be able to participate in solutions immediately upon graduation.”

Miller echoed the need for interdisciplinary trained graduates. “With course work in engineering, building construction, architecture, agriculture, business, and the arts, a student will have a broad-based background in real estate and be able to hit the ground running upon graduation.”

The Division of Undergraduate Education provides academic support, programs, and courses that touch on every aspect of the undergraduate experience, from recruitment to graduation and beyond. Its offices, units, and centers advocate for ways to create and nurture a vibrant and diverse community of engaged learners, while supporting the development of innovative and dynamic faculty. The division is committed to excellence in student access, retention, and success for the university’s 24,000 undergraduate students.