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.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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