Regents approve real-estate degree

By By Chris Mumford

By Chris Mumford

The numerous construction projects on campus have long made the subject of real estate a key concern for U administrators, but until now, there was no directly related degree available to students.

The Utah State Board of Regents approved a new real-estate master’s degree Friday in response to the state’s top-ranking population growth and faculty additions to the U College of Architecture and Planning.

“There’s going to be a lot of growth, and that growth is going to require more buildings,” said Scott Schaefer, the business school’s associate dean for academic affairs.

To teach the new degree, finance faculty from the business school will work together with several new urban planning professors from the College of Architecture and Planning who will contribute expertise on the political and environmental aspects of real estate, Schaefer said.

The master’s program will have a projected enrollment of 25 to 30, which might increase in the future if more faculty are hired. Students already enrolled in graduate programs can now apply to transfer to the new program; classes will begin next fall.

Schaefer said that plans for the program have been discussed since the U’s Ivory-Boyer Real Estate Center opened two years ago. The center sponsors real-estate research and a development competition that awards $20,000 to students who come up with the most innovative development strategies.

Although population growth and demand might make the degree well-timed, a slumping economy8212;weighed down in large part by the near-catastrophic downturn in the housing market8212;serves as a reminder of the real-estate industry’s inherent volatility.

“Real estate generally tends to have higher highs and lower lows than other parts of the economy,” Schaefer said. “But there are signs of improvement.”

Schaefer called the long-term prognosis for Utah’s housing and development excellent, and predicted that the state could see a population increase of more than a million in the coming years. The boom, he said, is driven in part by Utah’s high fertility rate, but also by people migrating from states such as California, where the economic downturn is particularly dire.

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