Incoming freshmen next year may be able to dedicate their college careers to studying real estate.
The University Council met Monday afternoon to discuss a resolution to approve the addition of a real estate major to Tech’s curriculum. This discussion is the first of several in line to have the major available to students by fall of 2013.
The program offered by this resolution has been developed in collaboration by all six colleges at Virginia Tech, hoping to create an interdisciplinary learning opportunity unlike any other real estate programs offered to undergraduate students in the country.
Kevin Boyle, department head of agricultural and applied economics, headed discussion of the new major.
Boyle has led the charge in an effort that has spanned the last two years. According to Boyle, two efforts to create a real estate major have been made since 2005, but have proven unsuccessful.
Since then, Boyle and his peers from every college at Tech have taken more precautions to ensure the same things don't happen again.
“It's the first time six colleges on campus have come together to offer a degree, and it’s taken a lot of work to get everyone together,” Boyle said. “I would call this one an outgrowth of the previous attempt. We've made some steps, we've learned from it, and we've had to build from there.”
According to Boyle, the appeal of a real estate major stems from job turnover in an already shaky, post-housing bubble property management market. A degree from this department may have lucrative potential for interested students.
“One of the things we had to do for the proposal was look at the job prospects,” Boyle said. “If we look out for the next, say, ten years, a third of the management in the real estate industry are going to turnover, mainly because of retirement. The earnings are higher than average for college graduates, so there are good job opportunities and income potential.”
Boyle fielded questions regarding several topics during the meeting.
The Council made several inquiries about the program, including how Tech would provide the most beneficial setting for real estate knowledge, what would make this program unique, and how the program would be carried out over the next two semesters.
The Council will vote on the resolution on October 15; if approved, it will pass to the Board of Visitors meeting on November 5. From there, Boyle will seek approval for the resolution from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, or SCHEV, where it can be officially declared a degree option for students.
“We've been working with SCHEV in advance, and they've already seen this proposal, so we don't expect any problems,” Boyle said. “For the issues they've told us about, we've already worked on them.”
According to the resolution, this Bachelor of Science in Real Estate will “prepare graduates for employment in industry sectors such as development, finance, Real Estate Investment Trusts, property management, appraisal, sales, and many global corporations with large property holdings.”
Six brand new courses will be implemented if the resolution passes, which will join seven pre-existing real estate courses to create the new real estate department. The department will be headed by Boyle, who is confident the necessary steps have been taken in getting all components readied for the major to be added to Tech’s curriculum.
“We've done all of our homework, and I think we're in good shape,” said Boyle. “The challenge is that we're putting something very aggressive on the table, and we have to go out there and implement it now. The challenge will be to realize the potential here.”
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