by Maria Thomas & Anna Woods, Asst. News Editor & Staff Writer
The O’Malley School of Business is launching its first real estate development course for the Spring 2020 semester, offering both a graduate and undergraduate option for the course.
The course is listed as a special topics course in Finance. The program was developed upon recommendations from Manhattan College alumni.
Dean Donald Gibson of The O’Malley Business School began working on this idea in August of 2018.
“This initiative began based on conversations with Manhattan College alumni who are professionals working in real estate. They reached out to me and urged us to develop programming in the area. I did some further investigation and I became convinced that Real Estate is a potentially very promising area for our students to consider,” said Gibson.
Richard Ross, the visiting instructor for Real Estate and Director of External Graduate Programs, will be teaching the class. He is helping to guide the development of the program and helping in alumni outreach.
“The beginning class will center around real estate development, which includes acquiring properties, doing feasibility analysis, forming a development team, constructing the building and managing that process, and property management and asset management,” said Ross.
The course will center around sustainability and affordable housing – two topics that Ross specializes in.
“I have been exposed to sustainable building for many years now. It is an integral part of affordable housing here in New York City,” he said.
Ross says it is important to tie sustainability and affordable housing into the course because it aligns with Manhattan College’s values.
“The Lasallian mission of the college is to have a humane approach to everything we do, and to care about people. Affordable housing is a huge problem throughout the United States, particularly in urban centers like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, where there is great wealth, and then there are the individuals who service those wealthy people who also need a place to live,” Ross said.
In addition to affordable housing, sustainable housing is a prevalent issue given the current concerns about how to prevent or diminish climate change.
“Sustainability is an issue on everyone’s minds throughout the country, because of global warming and the impact we see of not caring about the environment. So students are as excited about sustainability as we in the administration are, and it’s a part of the whole Environmental Social Governmental (ESG) issues that are taking place in investment and in real estate,” he said.
Ross and Dean Gibson are continuing to work with alumni to strengthen the program.
“Following the outreach from alumni, we formed an “affinity group” of real estate alumni professionals, currently with about 80 people on the list. We have held two meetings with this group, gathering advice from them for structuring the program and generating interest in providing student internships. What you find out is that our alumni are very passionate about real estate. They would really like to see this as a strong program at Manhattan College. Currently, we are doing preliminary work to consider a Real Estate Minor at the undergraduate level, and Certificate or Master’s degree at the graduate level,” said Gibson.
Dean Gibson sees the program as interdisciplinary and useful for students across all majors and schools.
“We regard Real Estate as a very useful program for students across campus. In addition to business students, as mentioned, engineering students will likely be interested in a field they can apply their skills. Students interested in urban planning, communications, and affordable housing and social justice will also find a home here. We are seeking to provide an interdisciplinary Real Estate minor that will be available across campus,” said Gibson.
Ross anticipates the same challenges that anyone would experience when starting a new program at a college: “Will there be enough interest in the student population? Will the class meet the student’s expectations? Will we teach everything they’re looking to learn? Those are some of the beginning challenges.”
Peter Martino, a senior finance major, will be taking the class next semester.
“Well, I actually found it while searching the course catalog for a finance elective, but many professors have been plugging it lately. I also met the professor for the course at the Fall Business Dinner,” said Martino.
Martino is excited about the course because he sees it as an opportunity to try something new.
“I’m just really looking forward to learning about an industry that I don’t know much about. I have no experience with real estate or how it works so I’m really excited to learn about all that,” said Martino.
Martino sees the program as a great way for the college to expand the opportunities available to students.
“I honestly think it only has benefits. For as great of a school as MC is, it still doesn’t have quite the same kind of name recognition as other larger schools, which makes it more difficult for an MC student to get hired at one of the big firms. Educating students about the real estate industry is great because it provides students with information about another potential avenue for their careers that is easier to break into with the potential for a great deal of success,” said Martino.
The program is especially relevant to Manhattan College because of its location.
“The New York real estate market is extremely vibrant and multi-faceted, and there are a variety of potential jobs, including real estate finance, development, construction management, building management, etc.,” said Gibson.