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Letter from the Executive Director

Mark J. RiedyMark J. Riedy, PhD

As long-suffering yet faithful fans of the San Diego Padres surely know, a .333 batting average is outstanding. This spring USD real estate students, competing in three different case competitions against three distinctly different groups of universities, batted just that. They gained invaluable real world experience, worked incredibly hard and effectively as teams, had their results judged by industry professionals and in every competition―win, lose or draw―unanimously said they would do it again. Each event proved to be an incredible learning opportunity.

Deadline for MSRE ProgramDefending the championship of the inaugural Argus Software University Challenge won by a USD team from the MSRE Class of 2009, a team of five current MSRE students repeated as 2011 champions. The USD Argus team, which was guided by faulty advisor Charles Tu, PhD, was made up of Ashley Lencek, Joseph Engelken, Michael Argier and co-team captains Joel Munoz and Justin Shifrin. The Burnham-Moores Center’s team rose to the challenge against 22 other universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth, as well as teams from Canada, Asia and Europe.

The Burnham-Moores Center fielded a team of undergraduate real estate students in an international case competition hosted by the University of Southern California. A student team from the University of Singapore emerged victorious for the fourth time in the last five years; USC won in 2010. The USD team was made up of Hayden Healy, Molly Cooper Jones, Chris Lisle, Dietrich Nascimento, Taylor Sides and Kyle Sullivan. Our students, guided by their faculty adviser, John Demas, Esq., accelerated their learning of a wide range of issues inherent in the development process, organized their thoughts well and created a fully developed investment proposal for a fictional company under severe time constraints. Our USD team worked 18-20 hour days in the Burnham-Moores Center’s “war room"―a converted classroom―powered by mountains of junk food and gallons of caffeinated drinks before delivering their finished product to the judges in Los Angeles on April 14 just three days after they received it.

For three of the six USD team members competing at USC, the April 14 deadline for submitting their finished product was uniquely stressful because they had volunteered for double-duty and also competed in our third case competition, whose date for presentations and judging also was April 14. This inaugural case competition was organized by NAIOP and featured undergraduate real estate cross-town rivals, SDSU and USD. SDSU now leads this exciting series 1-0 based on their proposed redevelopment of a property owned by Burnham-Moores Center Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee member Ash Israni, chairman of Pacifica Companies. USD’s NAIOP Challenge team was led by Brittany Harrison and included Connor Witt, Chris Lisle, Amir Atefi, Kyle Sullivan and Molly Cooper Jones, who captained our 2010 USC Challenge team. USD’s team, which was guided by faculty adviser Vivek Sah, PhD, and coach Louis Galuppo, Esq., crafted feasibility and market analyses based upon additional land acquisition, and a mixed-used project featuring hotel, apartment and retail elements. 

The hallmarks of USD’s graduate and undergraduate real estate program are its grounding in real-time industry issues and intense interaction with real estate professionals. These three annual events have added the additional element of competition against major universities from across the globe. The benefits of a USD education devoted to real estate keep growing year after year. We are proud of our students, appreciate these new opportunities to compete against other top-tier universities, and are dedicated to elevating next year’s team batting average to a level even higher than .333.

Dr. Mark J. Riedy
Executive Director

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MSRE Team Wins First Place in 2011 Argus University Challenge

ARGUS University Challenge Team
The First-Place Argus University Challenge team (from left to right) Justin Shifrin, Ashley Lencek, Joseph Engelken, Michael Argier and Joel Munoz. (Not pictured: faculty advisor Charles Tu, PhD)

A team of five University of San Diego Master of Science in Real Estate Students has taken first place in the 2011 Argus Software University Challenge, beating out 22 other teams from across the United States and around the world. The USD team prevailed over other student teams from universities such as MIT, Columbia University, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, as well as teams from Canada, the United Kingdom and China.

The USD team was made up of students: Michael Argier, Joseph Engelken, Ashley Lencek, Joel Munoz and Justin Shifrin, with guidance from Charles Tu, PhD, academic director of the MSRE program. The team will be awarded $7,500 for their victory. 

This is the second time that the Argus University Challenge has been held and the second time that the University of San Diego has taken first place, making USD the team to beat. In 2009, a USD team made up of Bob Brittingham, Brent Farrell, John Hundley, Bryce Lewis and Sasha Zhang bested 12 other teams. The competition was not held in 2010.

In the challenge, teams were charged with simulating a real-life investment analysis of a commercial real estate property by modeling the provided assumptions in Argus Valuation-DCF and/or Argus Developer. Submissions were judged by a panel made up of: J. Bruce Cumming Jr., Jerome Clark, Bruce Kellogg, Lynn Clarke, Pius Leung, Jill Newton, Lisa May, Jourdan Bremmer, Patrick Graham and Stephen Lowrance.

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Professor Norm Miller's Co-Authored Study Wins ARES Best Paper Award

Norm Miller
Norm Miller, PhD

A paper co-authored by Professor Norm Miller, PhD, received the Best Paper Award for 2010 by the American Real Estate Society (ARES), an association of real estate thought leaders whose members include leading global academic and professional researchers. The award-winning study, “Slicing, Dicing and Scoping the Size of the U.S. Commercial Real Estate Market,” was selected by the more than 1,000 members of ARES and presented at the group’s 2011 annual meeting held April 13-16 in Seattle.

The study is believed to be the first analysis to document the full size and scope of the commercial real estate market using direct measurement of commercial property, providing a more accurate and precise determination of market size than previous commonly cited estimates.

The paper was co-authored by CoStar group executives and published in the Volume 16, Number 2 edition of the Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management (JREPM). Analyzing the extensive data available in CoStar’s comprehensive database of U.S. commercial property, the rigorous study established the total market value of commercial real estate in the United States at $11 trillion at the time the study was conducted. In addition to benchmarking commercial real estate as a major asset class, the direct measurement calculations used in the study also provided an important framework for analyzing the investment potential of commercial real estate within different markets and by different commercial property types.

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Undergraduate Students Participate in Case Competitions

The NAIOP team (from left to right) Coach Louis Galuppo, Esq., Connor Witt, Brittany Harrison and Amir Atefi. (Not pictured: Molly Cooper Jones, Chris Lisle, Kyle Sullivan and faculty advisor Vivek Sah, PhD)

Undergraduate student teams took part in two case competitions in April: the USC International Real Estate Case Competition, held April 11-15, and the NAIOP University Challenge, held April 14.

USC Team
The USC team (from left to right) Hayden Healy, Molly Cooper Jones, Dietrich Nascimento, Kyle Sullivan, Chris Lisle and Taylor Sides. (Not pictured: faculty advisor John Demas, Esq)

The USC team was made up of Hayden Healy, Molly Cooper Jones, Chris Lisle, Dietrich Nascimento, Taylor Sides and Kyle Sullivan. John Demas, Esq., served as faculty advisor. Students competed against eight other teams in the invitation-only competition, which was won by the National University of Singapore team.

The NAIOP team was made up of team captain Brittany Harrison, Amir Atefi, Molly Cooper Jones, Chris Lisle, Kyle Sullivan and Connor Witt. Assistant Professor Vivek Sah, PhD, served as the team’s faculty advisor; Louis Galuppo, Esq., served as coach.

The NAIOP challenge had student teams from USD and San Diego State University determine the highest and best use for a piece of property, located at 301 University Ave. in San Diego. SDSU won the competition, which is expected to be an annual event.

Both competitions were judged by industry professionals.

"We are so proud of the way these students represented USD's real estate program," said Burnham-Moores Center Executive Director Mark Riedy, PhD. "The amount of time and energy they put into these competitions―particularly the three students who took part in both―is highly commendable and an indication of the caliber of our students."

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Continuing Education Program Names New CEQA Instructor

Ryan Birdseye
Ryan Birdseye

Ryan Birdseye has been named the new instructor of the “CEQA and Other Environmental Regulations” course in the Entitlement, Development and Design certificate program, offered jointly by the Burnham-Moores Center and the university’s Office of Continuing Education. Birdseye is the California Environmental Sciences and Planning Practice Leader with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. In this role, he provides environmental planning and related land entitlement services to both public and private sector clients. Birdseye has over 20 years of experience preparing environmental documents required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and assisting clients with the strategic planning and entitlement phase of land development and infrastructure projects. He is a member of the Association of Environmental Professionals.

The CEQA class begins June 7. For more information, contact Monica Phelps-Zambrano; to register, go here.

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Students Tour Balboa Theatre

Balboa Theatre sign
Balboa Theatre sign

On April 29, real estate graduate and undergraduate students toured the renovated Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego, which was completed in 2008 under the direction of the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC). During the behind-the-scenes tour given by CCDC senior project managers Eli Sanchez and Gary Bosse, the students learned about the historic theatre, which was built in 1924 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as deal, design and construction highlights of the $26.5 million restoration.

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MSRE Students Present Redevelopment Plans to City Officials, Business Owners

MSRE Class
On May 2, as a part of their “Urban and Suburban Development” course, Master of Science in Real Estate students presented their redevelopment plans for the Morena Boulevard area adjacent to the University of San Diego campus to a group of city officials and private business owners. The area falls into the city’s North Bay Redevelopment project area. Later this month, the students will make a similar presentation to Len Hering, vice president for Business Services and Administration at USD.
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MSRE Students Visit BioMed Realty Trust


BioMed Realty Visit
(Left to right) Tracie Hager, senior director, West Coast operations; Richard Howe, director, corporate communications; Sharon Bellows, senior real estate counsel and John Moshy, project manager-leasing and development, of BioMed Realty Trust Inc. spoke to MSRE students at the April 15 company visit, held at the company’s offices in Rancho Bernardo. The students heard corporate information, career advice and industry insights from company representatives.
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Committee Members, Students and Alums Attend “Beer and Blue Jeans” Event

Beer and Blue Jeans Event
(Left to right) Barbara Cambon, Derek Jensen ’07 (MSRE), Young Entrepreneurs Council member Kelly Souza ’03 (BBA), Nick Biancamano ’05 (MSRE) and current MSRE student Elise Caster gather for a photo.

On April 12, Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee member Barbara Cambon and Young Entrepreneurs Council chair Ann Bruce ’02 (BBA), hosted a “Beer and Blue Jeans” event at El Camino in Little Italy. The casual event enabled the current MSRE cohort to network with members of both the PAB Executive Committee and Young Entrepreneurs Council, as well as real estate alums.

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Annual BMC Day at Petco Park a Hit

Padres Game
(Left to right) MSRE students Brett Cooper, Michael Argier, Lorenzo Niccolini, Joseph Engelken and Brad Talbert caught up with their classmates while cheering on the San Diego Padres as they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates at the sold-out Annual BMC Day at Petco Park event May 3. Close to 90 students, alumni, policy advisory board committee members, faculty and guests attended the game and the tailgate party on the Western Metal Rooftop, which was hosted by the Burnham-Moores Center.
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Real Estate Society Wraps Up Another Successful Year

Real Estate Society Meeting
Len Howell speaks to students at the April 28 Real Estate Society meeting

On April 28, over 35 students attended the final Real Estate Society meeting of the academic year to hear Len Howell, director of hotel acquisitions for Pacifica Companies discuss career opportunities in the hospitality industry. At the meeting, team members of the NAIOP and USC student case competitions were given certificates of recognition for their outstanding dedication, contribution, commitment, participation and performance at the April competitions.

The Real Estate Society is a 200-plus member student organization that provides resources and information to graduate and undergraduate students interested in studying and pursuing careers in real estate. Meetings are held monthly throughout the academic year and feature real estate professionals who share their industry experience and insights with students. Participation in Society meetings is designed to help students satisfy academic requirements as well as to introduce them to real-time industry challenges and career opportunities.

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Alums Gather for Casual Thursday Event

Casual Thursday Event
On April 14, (left to right) Justin Brennan ’06 (MSRE), Aaron Ling ’06 (MSRE) and other members of USD’s Real Estate Alumni Association gathered at the newly renamed Casual Thursday event (formerly known as Market Watch). The event, which was held at Arterra at the Del Mar Marriott, provided a forum for alumni to network and discuss the market.
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Center Professors Speak at National Events

Vivek Sah
Vivek Sah, PhD
Charles Tu
Charles Tu, PhD

Professor Norm Miller, PhD, and Assistant Professor Vivek Sah, PhD, presented at the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Real Estate Society (ARES), held April 12-16 in Seattle. On April 14, Miller co-presented a paper, “Residential Land Values and Walkability.” On April 15, Sah presented two co-authored papers: “Index Addition Effects on Dividend Expectations: The Case of REITs” and “Distressed Real Estate Discount: Evidence from Commercial Real Estate.” Miller also spoke to the NAIOP Chapter of Seattle on the payoffs of sustainable real estate, and co-presented a review of capital market trends and an outlook for all property types at a pre-ARES conference seminar attended by Appraisal Institute and CCIM Institute members.

On May 3, Charles Tu, PhD, director of academic programs, spoke at the CoreNet Global Summit in Chicago. At the meeting, Tu co-presented his multi-year co-authored study on the economics of sustainable buildings.

Back to TopIn the News

Professor Norm Miller, PhD, and Associate Professor Alan Gin, PhD, were included in the April 9, April 16, April 23 and April 30 editions of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s “EconoMeter.”

Executive Director Mark J. Riedy, PhD, was quoted in an April 12 Daily Transcript article on the current opportune timing for college graduates to enter the commercial real estate field.

Norm Miller’s co-authored study, “Slicing, Dicing and Scoping the Size of the U.S. Commercial Real Estate Market,” which received the American Real Estate Society’s 2010 Best Paper Award, was referenced on and April 19.

Mark J. Riedy, PhD, was quoted in an April 20 Daily Transcript article on the Fed’s request for public comment on a proposed mortgage underwriting rule.

Alan Gin and the Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, which he compiles for the Burnham-Moores Center, were mentioned in several outlets following the March release. Articles appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune, The Daily Transcript, KPBS and the North County Times.

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Deadline for Fall 2011 MSRE Program

  • Final admission deadline is June 1, with decision notification by July 1.
  • For more information, go here.

WEDNESDay, JULY 14, 2011

Real Estate Alumni Association's Annual Bowling Tournament Fundraiser

Join the Real Estate Alumni Association for their annual bowling tournament to raise money for scholarships.

  • 6 - 8:30 p.m.
  • East Village Tavern and Bowl, 930 Market Street, San Diego, Calif. 92101
  • Watch for the registration page on our Web site,
  • For sponsorship opportunities or questions, contact Annie Grand at

Back to TopContinuing Education - Upcoming Courses and Seminars


CEQA and Other Environmental Regulations


  • Course taught by Ryan Birdseye, California Environmental Sciences and Planning Practice Leader with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.
  • To register, contact Monica Phelps-Zambrano, or register online.
  • For more information on this course, go here. For more information on Real Estate Continuing Education, go here.

ThURsDay, NOV. 10, 2011

Update on Tax Considerations in Real Estate


  • Seminar taught by Dan Gatto, founding partner of Gatto, Pope and Walwick LLP, and Phillip L. Jelsma, partner at Luce, Forward, Hamilton and Scripps LLP
  • To register, contact Monica Phelps-Zambrano, or register online.
  • For more information on this seminar, go here. For more information on Real Estate Continuing Education, go here.