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Letter from the Academic Director of the MSRE Program

Mark RiedyCharles Tu, PhD

For faculty and staff of the Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program, Memorial Day and Labor Day are probably the two most anticipated holidays of the year, because they represent two major milestones in the MSRE life cycle. Each year, a class of students graduates during the Memorial Day weekend and a new cohort arrives the week before Labor Day. On Aug. 25, the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate (BMC) welcomed the eleventh cohort to the program. The new group comprised of 21 men and women from across the U.S. and four other countries. With 11 returning part-time students, there are 32 MSRE candidates in the fall 2014 semester, the highest total number in the history of our program.

MSRE Program 2015The academic year kicked off with an intensive five-day introductory course, MSRE 500 The Real Estate Process. In this course, students: listened to and interacted with industry experts and community leaders, including Sherm Harmer, Lori Holt Pfeiler, Jeff Graham and Marney Cox; participated in panel discussions with MSRE alumni and with representatives from ULI, NAIOP, BIA and CREW; attended workshops to help develop and enhance both analytical and soft skills (e.g. email writing, public speaking, listening and PowerPoint presentations); and had lunch with David Pyke, PhD, dean of the business school. The cohort also toured the construction site of Versa, an affordable housing community in Mission Valley.

One of the highlights of this “boot camp” course was the reception on Thursday night. Several of the BMC’s Policy Advisory Board (PAB) members came to greet the new students, and many MSRE alumni returned to campus to welcome the newest members of the MSRE cohort. Our alums enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with each other and to share their experiences with the newcomers. While the atmosphere at the reception was casual and relaxing, business was also conducted. An alumnus shared that he came to the reception to recruit interns for his firm and successfully identified several great candidates. Everyone had such a good time that many attendees stayed well beyond the ending time of the event.

MSRE ProfileAt this year’s reception, there was at least one representative from each of the previous classes.  Seeing the alums reminds me of how much the program has evolved over the last decade and how much the landscape of graduate real estate education has changed. When I joined USD in 2004, the same year the MSRE program welcomed its inaugural class, there were approximately 10 specialized real estate graduate programs in the U.S. Today, the number of real estate programs is close to 40, with a few more in the pipeline. During this period of time, our program benefited from an unprecedented boom in the housing and commercial real estate markets. While it also suffered from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the program survived, and it continues to thrive.

As market conditions change, the real estate industry’s interest in graduate education fluctuates widely. Recruiting is therefore a crucial undertaking and an on-going process. Each year, the MSRE program receives hundreds of phone calls and emails inquiring about the program. After numerous follow-ups, we typically receive between 50 and 60 formal applications. It takes a lot of time and effort to cultivate each applicant. Each prospective student is unique―it is truly a personalized process. This year, an applicant from Switzerland was in the final stage of deciding whether to attend USD or a program in London when he visited San Diego in June. He questioned how the experiences and connections developed in San Diego would benefit his future career in Europe. After hearing his concerns, Mark Riedy introduced the prospective student to Marc Brutten.  Marc is a member of the PAB Executive Committee and the owner of Westcore Europe, which is headquartered in Switzerland, and invests in properties in several European countries. After a long conversation with Marc, the student was convinced that the MSRE program at USD was indeed the right fit and joined this year’s cohort.

The MSRE’s success is truly a team effort. I would like to express my gratitude to industry professionals who speak in classes, mentor students, offer internships and hire our graduates; BMC supporters and alumni who refer their relatives, friends, employees and/or business associates to our program; scholarship donors who provide crucial financial support to students; committee members who offer feedback to help us improve the curriculum; and faculty members who teach classes. Last, but definitely not least, I want to thank all the BMC and MSRE staff over the years who spent countless hours to provide students with the best learning experience possible.

Charles Tu, PhD
Academic Director of the MSRE Program

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Ian Gill Receives 2014 Mulvihill Leadership Award

Mulvihill Leadership Award
(From left to right) Dan Mulvihill with Ian Gill, the 2014 recipient of the Mulvihill Leadership Award.

On Sept. 10, the Burnham-Moores Center held its annual Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee dinner. At the event, Mark Riedy, PhD, presented the Daniel F. Mulvihill Leadership Award to Ian Gill, committee chair and president of Highland Partnership, Inc., in recognition of his long-standing dedication to the MSRE program, leadership of the Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee and generous investments of time, wisdom and financial support to advance the goals of the Burnham-Moores Center.

The award was first given in 2002 to Dan Mulvihill, chairman of Pacific Southwest Realty Services, to honor his leadership, helping to launch USD’s real estate program and for helping to build its current level of prominence. This was the 13th year the award was given to a Burnham-Moores Center supporter.

During the dinner, Riedy thanked Gill for his key support of USD’s real estate program. “Selecting Ian Gill as the 2014 recipient of the Mulvihill Leadership Award was the easiest decision I have made in a very long time!,” said Riedy.

Riedy continued, “Ian has been an exceptionally active member of the Burnham-Moores Center’s Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee for many years and succeeded Sherm Harmer as chair of the committee in 2011. Ian’s leadership and wisdom are being utilized to the fullest at present as he heads the industry’s close working relationship with USD administrators on succession planning and the recruitment of my successor as executive director of the Center. He also is a long-term and significant financial supporter of our program, both on an ongoing basis and by including the real estate program in his estate planning. Through almost his entire history with the Center, Ian taught the graduate-level course, “Design and Construction Management,” in USD’s MSRE degree program. Ian cares for our students, faculty and staff. He invests incredible amounts of his time and energy in advancing the achievements of the Center and MSRE degree program. He is unfailingly positive and the breadth and depth of his contributions to our success is virtually limitless.”

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Norm Miller Awarded University Professorship at Fall Convocation

Norm Miller
Norm Miller, PhD

On Sept. 12, Professor Norm Miller, PhD was awarded one of only five University of San Diego 2014-2015 University Professorships at the Fall Convocation of the Faculty and Administration. This is the highest academic honor bestowed university-wide and is in recognition of his outstanding scholarly achievements in teaching and research while supporting the mission and goals of USD. The University Professorship carries with it a substantial cash award. Miller was included in a booklet prepared by the Provost’s office, highlighting the five University Professors and their achievements.

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Cushman & Wakefield Pays Off $5 Million Endowment Gift

Cushman and Wakefield
(Left to right) Kit Sparks and Stath Karras give Mark Riedy the final installment of the Burnham Real Estate Services/Cushman & Wakefield $5 million endowment gift at their UTC office on Sept. 9.

The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate reached another milestone on Sept. 9, 2014. Stath Karras, executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield’s San Diego area and former CEO of Burnham Real Estate Services, and Christopher “Kit” Sparks, senior managing director for Cushman & Wakefield and former chief financial officer at Burnham Real Estate, handed a final check for $82,076.08 to Mark J. Riedy, PhD, executive director of the Burnham-Moores Center. This check completes all pledge payments on the $5 million endowment gift which named the program in 2004.

Women in Real Estate ConferenceWhat makes this final payment so unique and significant is that it represents the completion of the $1.6 million pledge made unanimously by Burnham Real Estate Services’ senior brokers in 2004. They carried over their collective pledges, funded out of their personal commission income, when the Burnham organization was acquired by Cushman & Wakefield on Jan. 1, 2008, and honored the entire pledge amount even as attrition over time meant that there were fewer senior brokers backing the $1.6 million commitment. The $3.4 million component of the $5 million gift also has been paid in full, specifically by John Moores and Malin Burnham through the Burnham Foundation and the Burnham Real Estate Services/Cushman & Wakefield organizations.

Since the first round of pledge payments were made to USD in 2004, the contributed capital, managed by the university, quickly began generating earnings to support the university’s widely acclaimed real estate program. Earnings beyond the spending limits set by USD policy are reinvested each year. In dollar terms, the market value of the total Burnham/Moores endowment account now stands above $6.62 million and throws off nearly $200,000 annually to support operations of the Burnham-Moores Center. It also generates retained earnings to be reinvested for future needs. The original intent of the $5 million endowment gift was to assist USD in growing a nationally recognized, high quality real estate program and to create a sizable and consistent revenue stream to sustain the operations of the program on a permanent basis. The Center’s staff, faculty and stakeholders have collaborated closely and made great strides in growing the program, both in the quantity and the quality of services provided and value added. Those commitments are never-ending. However, as of Sept. 9, 2014, the generous benefactors of the $5 million naming endowment gift can take special pride, as a group, in saying “Mission Accomplished!”

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Alumni Matters

Gina Champion-Cain
Gina Champion-Cain ’94 (MBA)
Sean Mayer
Sean Mayer ’10 (MSRE)

Gina Champion-Cain ’94 (MBA) has been responsible for the redevelopment and repositioning of nearly 10 million square feet of commercial space (retail, office and hospitality) as well as over 5,000 residential units. As president and CEO of American National Investments, Inc. (ANI), her responsibilities include providing strategic direction to ANI and overseeing all real estate services such as development and acquisition activities, commercial and residential leasing and asset management. In 2011, Champion-Cain developed a new lifestyle brand called LuvSurf; a San Diego-based real estate, hospitality and branded merchandise company. LuvSurf is a multi-faceted business, including a vacation rental business, The Patio Brand of Restaurants and an apparel brand that captures the “sand, sun and surf” lifestyle of southern California. As founder and CEO of LuvSurf, Champion-Cain oversees all aspects of the company, including property acquisitions, marketing, customer service and sales. In 2014, Champion-Cain developed a retail store concept called The Front Porch which will carry unique specialty items from The Patio Brand and from across the region, including gourmet sauces and jams, rich desserts, pastas, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, elegant candles and décor items. She also recently purchased shares in The Swell Café, a local coffee roasting company, and will be expanding the brand to include wholesaling organic coffee beans, teas and more.

Sean Mayer ’10 (MSRE) enhanced three generations of real estate DNA as the principal and founder of Legacy Real Estate Ventures, LLC, the investment arm for the Mayer Family Office. Since the commencement of the investment arm in 2009, the company has purchased and disposed of over $1.75 billion of single-family residential assets. The homes purchased and sold have helped pave the way for gentrification within these neighborhoods leading to an increased tax basis for the various cities and saving hundreds of families from foreclosure. Mayer’s company adopted a venture capital approach and his process of vertical integration led to the newest investment in a mobile application, HouseCall. The app synthesizes the link between the construction world and homeowners to create an “Uber-like” interface with a powerhouse team. Legacy Real Estate Ventures, LLC was recently nominated as a finalist for the Building Industry Association Icon Awards for the “Custom Home Builder/Remodeler of the Year” award. Mayer was a moderator at Opal Financial Group’s Annual Investment Trends Summit, was awarded the esteemed “Top 100 Family Office Elite Award” from Sato Consultants and was nominated in the International Top 100 Business Magazine as a top real estate developer.

Alumni News
If you are a USD alum working in the real estate industry, we would like to hear from you. Please e-mail Diane Ice with recent and significant career-related achievements and initiatives. All submissions will be considered for publication.

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Center Faculty Speak to Local and Nationwide Audiences

On Aug. 21-22, Professor Norm Miller, PhD, and Jeff Fisher, PhD, president of the Homer Hoyt Institute and professor emeritus of Real Estate at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, spent two days in Chicago leading a discussion and review of concepts and trends with the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) Institute’s faculty from across the globe. Miller and Fisher reviewed nuances of rates―such as discount rates, leverage, risk, capitalization rates and value trends―and discussed current trends, such as what will happen when the third round of quantitative easing “QE3” phases out. CCIM is the global leader in commercial and investment real estate education and services.

On Aug. 25, Miller spoke during a breakout session at the International Association of Assessing Officers’ (IAAO) 80th International Conference on Assessment Administration held in Sacramento. Miller’s topic was “The State of the Art in Automated Valuation Models (AVMs)” as applied to residential property. More than 1,100 people attended the international conference, and Miller networked with head appraisers from Singapore, South Korea and China while at the event. IAAO offers education, technical standards, consulting services and other resources to the assessing community.

On Sept. 11, Executive Director of the Burnham-Moores Center, Mark J. Riedy, PhD, was the guest speaker at the Family Business Association’s lunch meeting at Vintana in Escondido. Riedy offered a fresh look at the causes of the recent real estate collapse and lessons we failed to learn from the collapse. Riedy said that the drive to increase lending volumes and real estate investments in housing and elsewhere may be leading to the same sorts of increased risks experienced in the past and caused so many problems then and possibly again now.

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BMC Partners with SPIRE at their Creative Financing Conference

The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate sponsored the Stanford Professionals in Real Estate’s (SPIRE) Creative Financing Conference which took place Sept. 16 at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel. The event touched on international lending, family offices, private and institutional resources, crowd funding and other unconventional methods to finance deals. The event’s keynote address was given by Stewart A. Resnick, chairman and owner of Roll Global whose companies include: Paramount Citrus; Paramount Farming; Paramount Farms; POM Wonderful; Teleflora; FIJI Water; Suterra; JUSTIN Vineyards; and Landmark Vineyards.

SPIRE’s goals are to provide a forum for professional development for Stanford alumni in the real estate industry, to afford opportunities to current students for mentorships and offer professional exposure to the world of real estate. SPIRE also sets out to engage the university in developing a robust multi-disciplinary real estate education and research program.

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Mark Riedy Makes Who’s Who in the World List

Mark Riedy
Mark J. Riedy, PhD

Mark J. Riedy, PhD, executive director of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, was recently selected for the 2015 edition of “Who’s Who in the World” due to his outstanding achievements in the real estate and banking industries. Riedy has been listed in “Who’s Who in America” since 1982 and “Who’s Who in the World” since 2005.

Back to TopIn the News

Professor Norm Miller, PhD, and associate professor Alan Gin, PhD, were included in the Aug.15, Aug. 22, Aug. 29, Sept. 5 and Sept. 12 editions of U-T San Diego’s “EconoMeter.”

Articles on Burnham-Moores Center’s founder and Executive Director Mark Riedy, PhD’s upcoming retirement appeared in The Daily Transcript, U-T San Diego, the San Diego Business Journal, San Diego Metropolitan Magazine and on

Assistant Professor Vivek Sah, PhD’s, article on first-time homebuyers appeared on on Aug. 18.

Norm Miller, PhD, was interviewed for an Aug. 27 KUSI news segment on the “American Dream” of homeownership and whether or not it is still possible in San Diego.

Media and Speaking Engagement Inquiries
The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate is proud to connect our world-class faculty and executive team with the media and the community to discuss a wide range of financial and real estate-related industry topics. To request an interview or speaking engagement, contact Kimberly Malasky at (619) 260-4786.

Back to TopCalendar of Events

THUrsDay, Sept. 25, 2014

First-Time Homebuyer Seminar

This free event will educate a prospective homebuyer on the opportunities and requirements of the current market through a panel discussion of real estate experts and Q&A session. This event is open to all USD faculty, staff, students and members of the Linda Vista Community.

Time: 12:15 - 12:45 p.m. lunch; 12:45 - 1:30 p.m. seminar
Location: University of San Diego, Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, Warren Auditorium, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110
Cost: Free; lunch provided


Your RSVP is required to attend the lunch and seminar. Contact Ashley Adams at (619) 260-8803.

WEDNESDay, NOV. 5, 2014

Fourth Annual Women in Real Estate Conference

presenting sponsor: CREW

Time: 7:30 - 8 a.m. breakfast and networking, 8 – 10 a.m. program
Location: University of San Diego, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110

Keynote: Jean Kane, chief executive officer, Welsh & Colliers International and executive chairman of the board of NAIOP. Panelists to be announced.
Cost: $50 per person, includes breakfast
Sponsor this conference. Contact Kimberly Malasky at (619) 260-4786 for more information on sponsorship opportunities.

Register for the conference.

TUESDay, DEC. 2, 2014

15th Annual Residential Real Estate Conference: Outlook 2015 - SAVE THE DATE

Time: 7:30 - 10 a.m.
University of San Diego,  Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110

Cost: $65 per person or $550 for 10 reserved seats

Sponsor this conference. Contact Diane Ice at (619) 260-2379 for more information or sponsorship opportunities.

THURSDay, MARCH 5, 2015

19th Annual Real Estate Conference - SAVE THE DATE

Time: 7:30 - 11 a.m.

Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, 1 Market Place, San Diego, CA 92101
Sponsor this conference. Contact Diane Ice at (619) 260-2379 for more information.

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Urban Development Strategies