Grad Real Estate Program Booms on UH Campus

Published on April 23, 2011

Graduate Real Estate Program Features Expanded Course
Offerings, Advisory Board and Student Excitement

The program has received support from leaders like former UH System Board of Regents Chair Welcome Wilson (’49), who is chair of the Real Estate Advisory Board, and students, like MBA candidate Brandon Ferguson.

If John Walsh has anything to do with it, Houston real estate is about to have another boom — right here on the University of Houston campus.

Since joining UH C. T. Bauer College of Business in August, Walsh has designed a plan that will dramatically alter the university’s Graduate Real Estate Program over the next three years.

With the support of the city’s dynamic real estate industry, the new director of the Graduate Real Estate Program is beefing up course offerings for MBA and MS Finance candidates seeking a Real Estate Certificate. He’s also creating a UH Bauer Real Estate Center and launching a Leadership Campaign to finance Bauer’s real-estate initiative over the next three years.

Walsh knows the ropes of the industry and believes Bauer deserves a comprehensive, nationally competitive real estate program. From the ’70s to the ’90s, he enjoyed a successful career with Exxon’s real estate subsidiary, Friendswood Development Co. After that, he switched his career focus to community-based projects — serving as President of the Houston Chamber of Commerce; a special projects director for M. D. Anderson Cancer Center developing their expanding medical campus, Deputy Chief of Staff for Neighborhoods and Housing in Mayor White’s Administration, followed by serving as Director of Real Estate and Campus Planning for the University of Houston System. In his new role at Bauer, Walsh is essentially a volunteer. His salary is $1 a year.

Why is Walsh so passionate about the need for real estate studies?

“As a member of the real estate business community,” he explained in a recent interview, “we began to recognize that essentially all of us had learned through the school of hard knocks. We did not have a formal education in real estate, and we felt that Houston should have such a program, given that it’s the fourth largest city in the nation.”

Bauer’s Graduate Real Estate Program Director John Walsh is passionate about building a strong real estate curriculum at the University of Houston.

Walsh has been busy making that goal a reality.

This fall, Bauer’s beefed up graduate real-estate program will grow from one real-estate course to nine, and the Graduate Real Estate Certificate will require 18 credit hours as opposed to the previous nine.

New course offerings include, among others, Legal Issues in Real Estate Management (FINA 7397), Financial Markets (FINA 7340), Construction Management Principles (CNST 6305) and Real Estate Project Management (CNST 7397). The expanded academic offerings are also detailed on the newly launched website.

As envisioned by Walsh, the new UH Bauer Real Estate Center will connect Bauer students with Houston’s real estate professionals. Led by an executive advisory board that is the crème de la crème of the city’s real estate industry, the Center will be the umbrella for the program’s support network: scholarships, mentoring, marketing, community outreach and philanthropy. It also sponsors the UH MBA Real Estate Club, which Walsh says has between 50 and 60 members.

“I think we are onto something that’s going to be popular with students and is highly supported by our local business community,” said Walsh, who holds a BA and MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. “We just did a survey of our MBA students, and out of 140 respondents, two-thirds of them are either very interested or interested in real estate as an academic pursuit as well as a career path.”

Walsh finds it odd that Texas A&M at College Station and the University of Texas at Austin both offer master’s degrees in real estate, while no Houston university does. “We are a larger, more diverse, more vibrant, more interesting, more exciting real estate market than either of those (towns),” he said.

As the program grows, private contributions will be necessary, and the executive advisory board’s finance committee is spearheading the fund-raising initiative. Real-estate course offerings will increase year by year, with a full MS in real estate on the horizon.

By Wendell Brock