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Letter from the Academic Director of the MSRE Program

TuCharles Tu, PhD

During spring break in late March, I joined Assistant Professor Vivek Sah, PhD, Instructor John Demas, Esq., and 18 other colleagues in USD’s School of Business Administration on a faculty development trip organized by the Ahlers Center for International Business. The destination was Delhi, India’s capital city and Sah’s hometown.

The purpose of the trip was to develop teaching, research and cultural exchange opportunities with companies and educational institutions in India. During the seven days, our group visited a variety of businesses, including: a government-owned company that sells 2.5 million liters of milk daily in Delhi through thousands of vending machines; a social enterprise that trains women from poor communities to become cab drivers and chauffeurs and provides safe transportation services for women; a leading consumer goods manufacturer that uses hundreds of unique herbs in its products and secures the supply of these ingredients through environmentally friendly and socially responsible approaches; and one of the largest real estate companies in India. The lessons learned from these visits will provide excellent teaching examples and help generate new research ideas. 

Petco Park EventWe also interacted with faculty from two premier business schools in the region—the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) at University of Delhi and the Institute of Management Technology—to discuss research ideas and best practices in the classroom. It’s amazing how different the higher education systems are in the two countries. For example, at FMS the total cost of the two-year, full-time MBA program is approximately $400, and 100 percent of its graduates are placed prior to graduation. Because of its low cost and perfect placement record, admission to the program is extremely competitive. Each year, about 25,000 applicants compete for 200 openings. Real estate is not a discipline that can be found in higher education in India. Therefore, I spoke with leaders of the two business schools about the possibility of developing joint programs so USD can help them train students interested in careers in real estate.

Executive Director Mark Riedy, PhD, once wrote in The Pipeline “International travel tends to broaden one’s horizons and occasionally change one’s perspectives on issues of a socio-economic nature that are not too dissimilar from those we wrestle with in the United States.” What caught my attention on this trip is the dichotomy of India’s housing market. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of the 21 million residents in the Delhi metropolitan area live in slums without basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation. Clearly there is an urgent need for more affordable housing. In the meantime, there has been a construction boom in the high-rise apartment sector. Units in the National Capital Region (NCR) are selling for up to $600 per square foot. Surveys indicate that approximately 65 percent of new units were purchased by speculators and about 30 percent of the complete units currently are vacant. But buyers and developers don’t seem to care, attitudes not too dissimilar from those exhibited in the U.S. during the mid 2000s right before the housing bubble collapsed.


Charles Tu, PhD
Daniel F. Mulvihill Professor of Commercial Real Estate
and Academic Director of the MSRE Program

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MSRE Students, Professor Miller Attend MIPIM Conference in Cannes

(From left to right) Professor Norm Miller, PhD, and MSRE students Bryan Masters, Thomas Bobo and Inna Panchuk outside of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, the location of the MIPIM 2013 Conference. (Not pictured: MSRE student Tony Konstant)

MSRE students Thomas Bobo, Tony Konstant, Bryan Masters and Inna Panchuk along with Burnham-Moores Center Professor Norm Miller, PhD, attended the MIPIM 2013 Conference in Cannes, France from March 12-15. The students had been curating content leading up to the conference over the past few months as part of a new collaboration with MIPIM, a leading international real estate organization that hosts the annual event in Cannes. The conference is attended by more than 20,000 commercial real estate professionals primarily from major cities in Europe looking to make deals and learn about the latest industry trends.

The University of San Diego, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ESSEC Business School in Paris and Paris-Sorbonne University were the only four universities invited to send students to attend the conference as roving bloggers. Students were assigned to various conference sessions and used the social media platform to share the major points with MIPIM’s global audience. The topics the USD students covered included: innovative design in commercial real estate; foreign real estate investment considerations; commercial real estate sustainability strategies; and global market trends. Some of the content students wrote about was picked up and shared in other social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

On March 14, Professor Miller moderated a panel discussion at the conference titled “Smart Investment – Manage Innovation for Better Return on Investment,” which included panelists from Denmark, France, Sweden and two from the U.S. A recap of the panel discussion reported on by MSRE student Tony Konstant can be found by going here.

Miller believes that the conference was a valuable and eye-opening experience for the students, and hopes that the University of San Diego’s real estate students are invited to attend again in the future. “All four of the students learned that they can influence others and get noticed,” he said. “Some of what they wrote had real impact.”

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USD Alum Recognized in National Publication for her Student Outreach

Renee Savage
Renee Savage ’88 (BBA)

When University of San Diego alum Renee Savage ’88 (BBA) moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to attend USD and get a degree in business administration, she had no intention of pursuing a career in real estate. Little did she know while attending college that she would be so involved with her alma mater later in her career, or that she would be listed as a “Woman Changing the World of Real Estate Management” in the Institute of Real Estate Management’s national journal, The Journal of Property Management, due to her outstanding student outreach and for mentoring young professionals in the real estate industry.

After graduating from USD in 1988, Savage went to USD’s Career Center and saw an opening for an assistant property manager position at Capital Growth Properties, Inc., a full service real estate company that focuses on property management, investment brokerage and commercial leasing. Although she wasn’t sure what a property manager was at the time, she thought the position sounded interesting and applied. In doing so she stumbled across a career that she loves. Now having been with the company for almost 24 years, Savage is its senior vice president for property management. She leads six regional property managers, their teams, and the accounting department in the management of over 100 residential and commercial properties in San Diego County, among other responsibilities.

When not working or spending time with her husband and two teenage children, Savage fills much of her calendar with engagements from local professional organizations with which she is involved. She is a past president of the San Diego County Apartment Association (SDCAA) and of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), and held many positions with these organizations and others over the past decade. She now focuses primarily on student and academic outreach with IREM, and is the chair of the San Diego Chapter’s Student and Academic Outreach committee. Savage is also a past chair of the National Student and Academic Outreach Board, where she is still a board member. Savage also serves on the Policy Advisory Board Commercial Real Estate Committee of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

“I am a straight shooter so if I think their handshake stinks I tell them straight out, not to embarrass them but make them better.”

In 2009, when she was serving as IREM San Diego’s president, she thought that the organization should start reaching out to the future of the industry—students. Her outreach started with introducing students to property management as a career, but she has also found time over the years to assist young professionals in the areas of networking, finding jobs and internships and career advice. Not only has Savage helped students from USD, but also from the three other local universities, where she attends networking events and national conferences. She helps fund students so they can attend events, speaks on panels at Real Estate Society Meetings, conducts informational interviews and introduces students to her connections in other areas of real estate. She has also participated in USD’s Real Estate Career Expo—her last two hires at Capital Growth Properties, Inc. have been USD graduates—and in USD’s Mentor Program, over the past several years.

“I have to say, they need to have thick skin with me!,” she says of her relationships with the students she mentors. “I am a straight shooter so if I think their handshake stinks I tell them straight out, not to embarrass them but make them better.”

Savage says the highlight of her student outreach has been watching students take her advice and apply it to become more polished, see them grow, become excited about fields they are passionate about and ultimately find jobs they love.

Savage also treasures her experiences giving back to USD, and says that “being involved with USD and the Center is a beautiful balance of give and take.”

“As alums, we have so much to offer that can help make USD students successful. We can truly make a difference in their lives if we just give them a bit of our time.” She also adds, “On the professional side, I have hired some amazing recent graduates that have made me a better leader, our team better and overall made our company more successful.”

Asked about the best piece of career advice she’s ever received, she says “to always, always give 100 percent in everything you do and to always be honest and ethical in your business dealings, even when no one is watching. Hard work and doing what is right are two key elements that can help make you successful.”

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Alums Tour, Network at Hotel La Jolla Event

Casual Thursday
(From left to right) Danny Reeves ’12 (MSRE), Dan Buoye ’12 (MSRE), Bobby Whitney ’12 (MSRE), Erica Schutt ’12 (MSRE), Nick Walsh ’10 (MSRE) and Bryan Grissinger ’12 (MSRE) gather for a photo at the event.

On March 14, Real Estate Alumni Association (REAA) members met for a Casual Thursday real estate networking event at the newly renovated Hiatus Lounge at Hotel La Jolla, a Kimpton Hotel located in La Jolla Shores. Current graduate students and USD alumni working in the real estate industry attended the event to visit with their classmates, make new connections and tour the renovated hotel. To learn more about the REAA, go here.

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MSRE Students Tour Local Sustainable Office Buildings

Swinerton Tour
MSRE students toured Swinerton's Rancho Bernardo offices April 2 as a part of their Sustainable Real Estate course.

MSRE students in Professor Norm Miller’s Sustainable Real Estate course recently took several field trips during class to learn about the companies’ sustainable real estate initiatives. The students visited Swinerton Builder’s office in Rancho Bernardo April 2, where they heard from Chris Day, vice president-business development, and Brian McCarthy, project executive. The students toured the net-zero office renovation, which achieved LEED Platinum certification. The class also toured DPR Construction’s University City office March 19 to gain additional perspectives on construction and sustainability.

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Wells Fargo’s Real Estate Group Representatives Speak to Real Estate Society

Kelly Souza
Kelly Souza ’03 (BBA) speaks to the Real Estate Society on campus March 21.

Over 25 students attended the Real Estate Society meeting March 21, which featured a presentation from two USD alumni from Wells Fargo’s Real Estate Group-San Diego: Kelly Souza ’03 (BBA), senior vice president, and Michael Crumpacker ’12 (BBA), financial analyst. Souza provided the students with a thorough understanding of her department and company, as well as the company’s Summer Financial Analyst internship, which is offered to students during the summer before their senior year of college. If a student successfully completes this program, the student can then enroll in Wells Fargo’s full-time Financial Analyst program post-graduation. After the presentation Souza and Crumpacker answered questions on the Wells Fargo programs and gave the students career advice.

The Real Estate Society is a 200-plus member student organization that provides resources and information to undergraduate students interested in studying and pursuing careers in real estate. Meetings are held once a month and feature real estate professionals who share their industry experience and insights with students.

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REAA Board Volunteers at Monarch School

(From left to right) Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Student and Alumni Services Manager Annie Grand, and REAA board members Rammy Cortez ’09 (MSRE), Nick Walsh ’10 (MSRE), Jimmy Morrison ’06 (MSRE) and Kate Gillingham ’09 (BBA) serve food to the students and parents at the team-building event.

Real Estate Alumni Association (REAA) board members and Burnham-Moores Center staff participated in a community service project by volunteering at the Monarch School downtown March 18. The group provided dinner to 120 people, which included students of the school from grades K-12 and their parents. The board provided the food and drinks for everyone. To learn more about the Monarch School, go here.

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Errol Cowan has Paper Published

Errol Cowan, PhD

A paper authored by Adjunct Professor Errol Cowan, PhD, was recently published by Smart Growth Network, which sponsored a call for papers on the development issues facing our communities in the next 15 years and the steps that will need to be taken to solve them. The paper Cowan’s submitted, “From Sprawlvilles to Sustainable Suburbs: Ideas to Attract Private-Sector Investment in Suburban Improvement Projects in an Era of Reduced Public Support,” offers ideas on attracting private-sector investment to suburban improvement projects. A link to the paper can be found here.

Back to TopIn the News

Professor Norm Miller, PhD, was interviewed in a March 13 article after his Webinar on changing office trends was presented earlier in the month to CoStar subscribers.

Norm Miller, PhD, was quoted in a March 17 U-T San Diego article on space efficiency in the workplace.

Norm Miller, PhD, was quoted in articles that were picked up by the National Mortgage Professional Magazine and on why lower interest rates and monetary policies are not stimulating housing prices.

Norm Miller, PhD, and associate professor Alan Gin, PhD, were included in the March 22, March 29 and April 5 editions of the U-T San Diego’s weekly “EconoMeter.”

On March 26, residential real estate director Joe Bertocchini was interviewed in a Fox 5 news segment on the local residential real estate market rebound.

Alan Gin, PhD, was featured in the U-T San Diego, The Daily Transcript and KPBS following his most recent release of the USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, which he compiles for the Burnham-Moores Center.

Back to TopCalendar of Events

FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013

Third Annual NAIOP University Challenge

  • 7:30 – 9:15 a.m. final presentation to NAIOP and general audiences
  • San Diego Marriott Del Mar
  • To register, go here.
  • For questions, contact Karen Burges at (858) 509-4110.

MONDay, MAY 6, 2013

Annual BMC Day at Petco Park

The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate invites you to watch the Padres take on the Florida Marlins. Join real estate alumni, faculty, students and industry professionals at this annual event. Tickets are limited.

  • 6:10 p.m. Pre-game food and drinks on the Western Metal Rooftop Bleachers; Game begins at 7:10 p.m.
  • Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd, San Diego, 92101
  • $35 per ticket. Includes food served until 8:05 p.m. and drinks through the seventh inning
  • To register, go here.
  • For questions, contact Annie Grand at (619) 260-7619.

THURSDay, June 13, 2013

Real Estate Alumni Association’s Annual Bowling Tournament and Scholarship Fundraiser

Join the Real Estate Alumni Association for its annual bowling tournament fundraiser. Proceeds fund real estate scholarships.

  • 6 - 9 p.m.
  • East Village Tavern and Bowl, 930 Market St., San Diego, 92101
  • $50 per player. Includes bowling, shoe rental, appetizers and two drink tickets
  • To register, go here.
  • For sponsorship opportunities or questions, contact Annie Grand at 619-260-7619.

MONDAY, JULY 15, 2013

Application Deadline for Fall 2013 MSRE Program

Back to TopContinuing Education - Upcoming Courses and Seminars

STARTS TUESDay, MAy 7, 2013

Legal Aspects of Real Estate


TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2013

Real Estate Process Seminar