Undergraduate Team again shows well at USC Case Competition

A team of six Leeds undergraduate real estate students again travelled to Southern California in April to compete at the annual USC International Real Estate Case Competition. CU continued to show well in the competition against the best undergraduate real estate programs from around the country and the world.

CU competed against the National University of Singapore, University of Auckland, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, Villanova, Ohio State University, Southern Methodist University and USC. U.S. News ranks Wisconsin, USC and Texas #2, #5 and #6 nationally for undergrad real estate programs. Wisconsin won the competition just beating out the Buffs according to the panel of industry professionals who judge the competition. Team members included Megan Turner, Dalton Skach, Ell Johnston, Sam Arthur, Katya Golynko and Toby Kropp. All are seniors or juniors earning their Real Estate Certificates at Leeds.

The students audition for the team and then work throughout the semester with faculty, past team members and industry professionals honing their analytical and presentations skills. Each week the team is given a real estate case including financial, economic, market, legal and political assumptions. The team then analyzes the case and presents their recommendations concerning the project. The complexity of the cases and sophistication of the analysis are remarkable for the undergraduate level and push the students to new heights, requiring them to draw on and integrate much of what they’ve learned at Leeds.

The real estate case competition experience represents the best of active, experiential learning at Leeds. “The case competition experience was fantastic…I now have the ability and confidence to analyze and present real-life real estate deals to real investors.” said team member Katya Golynko. Team member Toby Kropp agreed saying “Being part of the case competition team taught me skills that apply to real life situations, enhanced my professional network and created lifelong friendships.”

“Competing toe-to-toe against the best undergrad real estate programs year after year shows how our students and program stack up against the very best programs in the country.” said Curtis Sears, Senior Instructor in the real estate program at Leeds. “Every year we’re in the hunt at USC and it’s having a major impact on our program both internally and beyond the walls at Leeds. The opportunity to participate in these case competitions is part of the energy and excitement that is fueling tremendous growth in the real estate program at Leeds…over sixty students will earn their Real Estate Certificate this year at Leeds…more than double the number of just a few years ago. And the consistent performance and success of our teams at USC has caught the attention of others as we’ve recently been invited to participate in two new competitions for CU: a competition hosted by Cornell University at the upcoming ICSC RECon convention in Las Vegas, and an annual competition hosted by Villanova University in Philadelphia each spring.”

A key to the experience and success of the CU teams is the participation of industry experts and CU Real Estate Center Council members who help coach the students. Special thanks to the past team members and industry professionals who helped coach this year’s team including Evan Austin, Mark Christ, Courtney Colbert, Brett Erb, Joe Faller, Colleen Gawey, Richard Hall, Tripp Howell, Paul Kluck, Sam Makings, Bill Mark, Joe Markman, Leon McBroom, Brian Monahan, Kyle Rhatigan, Matt Riach, Jake Rome, George Ryan, Nick Schoon, Nolan Smith, Kim Sperry, Mary Sullivan, Drew Thomas, Abby Vollmer and Jeff Wingert. Thanks also to Denee Janda, a speech and presentation coach who also works with the team over the semester.

For more information concerning the CU Real Estate Center’s involvement in the USC International Real Estate Case Competition and other competitions, contact Curtis Sears (curtis.sears@colorado.edu).

Interim Executive Director Update

As I conclude my duties as Interim Executive Director, I want to take the opportunity to sincerely thank the faculty, staff, council members, board members, and administration for their support over the last year. The CU Real Estate Center is fortunate to have so many supporters, at all levels, who are committed to making the Center one of the leading Centers of Excellence at the University of Colorado, and also one which is very highly regarded by the industry with which it is aligned. It has been an honor to fill in after the loss of our dear friend, Sherman Miller, and I, like you, am excited to have our new Executive Director, Mike Kercheval, step in and take the Center to new heights.

Since last June, we have been able to continue our historical program trends of very high student placement rates and satisfaction, and have provided great programs and networking opportunities to our various stakeholders and alumni. Last fall, we undertook our first stakeholder survey, learned that we are performing well, doing the right things, and that all stakeholders want to see the Center grow in both scope and stature. Our Annual Forum was well-attended and highly successful, and we have undertaken a serious look at our membership/sponsorship structure, with the end goal to increase involvement and minimize the multiple asks that have become burdensome in the past. We sponsored our second Student Trek, visiting the San Francisco area with twenty undergraduate and graduate students who visited ten firms over three days, to great reviews by the both the students and our sponsoring companies. We hired Stephen Billings as a new Associate Professor, who will start in August, and who will pick up the additional burden which had been shouldered by Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the faculty since the departure of Liang Peng last spring. And, of course, we undertook an extensive Executive Director search process, headed by Tom Thibodeau, which resulted in hiring Mike Kercheval. Mike will be stepping in to the Executive Director role after a highly successful career in the private sector, and as the long-time head of ICSC where he achieved great success in growing that organization and its support base. Please welcome Mike as he starts his new role on July 1.

All-in-all, the past year has been a solid period one for the Center, and one that has helped position us for a great future. Thank you all for your past and continuing support of the CU Real Estate Center. I look forward to seeing all of you at one of our future events!


Kim J. Koehn
Interim Executive Director

CU Real Estate Center - Executive Director

Dean David Ikenberry has announced that the next Executive Director of the University of Colorado Real Estate Center will be Mike Kercheval. Between 2000 and 2015, Mike was the President of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc. (ICSC). With over 70,000 members across 100 countries, ICSC is the world’s largest commercial real estate trade association. ICSC has about 170 full-time employees located in 100 countries. During his tenure as President, Mike has helped grow the membership of ICSC from 35,000 members to 70,000. Prior to his employment with ICSC, Mike has worked for Lend Lease Latin America Realty Advisors, Lend Lease Real Estate Investment Management, Equitable Real Estate Investment Management, Inc., and Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Mike holds a graduate degree from Columbia University and has taught urban economics at Columbia. Mike received his undergraduate degree in economics from CU-Boulder in 1978. In addition to being a member of CUREC’s National Advisory Board, Mike is a members of the University of Florida’s Executive Advisory Board and, through his affiliation with ICSC, sponsors research at Wharton’s Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center.

With Mike’s guidance, ICSC now operates more than two dozen professional training programs around the globe. In addition, ICSC now hosts post-graduate real estate programs at Wharton and USC. ICSC also has an educational foundation that supports undergraduate and graduate education in real estate. Mike was instrumental in establishing the Sherman R. Miller III Undergraduate Real Estate Case Completion between CU, CSU and the University of Denver two years ago. The administrators, faculty and staff of both the Leeds School and the University of Colorado Real Estate Center are pleased to welcome Mike to Boulder.

New Faculty Member!

Tom Thibodeau is pleased to share that the Finance Division in the Leeds School of Business is in the process of hiring Professor Stephen B. Billings as an Associate Professor of Real Estate. Professor Billings received his PhD in Economics from the University of Colorado-Boulder in May 2008. Between 2008 and 2012, he was an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNC-C). Since 2012, he has been a member of the Economics faculty at UNC-C. He was promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure, at UNC-C in 2014. He currently serves as the Co-Director of the Childress-Klein Center for Real Estate at UNC-C.

Professor Billings’ areas of research include real estate economics, urban economics, public economics, labor economics, and the economics of crime. Professor Billings focuses his research efforts on three areas: (1) accurately measuring the influence that government policies and capital investment decisions have on property values; (2) measuring the effects that economic development policies have on business location decisions: and (3) measuring the effect that government education programs have on school outcomes and child welfare.

Professor Billings routinely advises the local Charlotte, North Carolina government on matters related to his research, helping the city form its transportation and education policies. He helps the Charlotte police department analyze crime patterns and the local school district evaluate policies affecting public education. Professor Billings frequently discusses the implications of his research with the media, having been interviewed or quoted by National Public Radio, The Washington Post, Slate Magazine, the New York Times, Outside Magazine, HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and the Huffington Post.

Steve is currently teaching a graduate level course in real estate economics. During the fall 2016 semester, Steve will be teaching two undergraduate sections of Real Estate Finance and Investments and the graduate level Real Estate Economics course.

Real Estate Club - Hard Hat Tour

The CU Real Estate Club sponsored a hard hat tour of the CU Athletic Facilities including the new indoor football practice field and the Hall of Champions. The tour (limited to 15 seniors) was led by the project managers at Mortenson Construction and Development Company. The students were especially interested in learning how a project of this immensity is managed at the ground level. Several of the seniors on the tour had gone on a similiar tour last fall when the project was just a huge hole in the ground. What a difference a year can make!

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