The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University Announces Real Estate Development Institute

The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University announces the establishment of a Real Estate Development Institute which will add to its traditional focus on hospitality business operations and management with an enhanced focus on hospitality business real estate development and ownership.

The Institute will provide increased opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students, offer short courses to benefit students and the industry, and facilitate collaborative, applied research among professors.
The Institute is an evolving concept, but it has grown from the increased interest among students, need in the industry, and expertise among the faculty in the field of real estate development and asset management.  In fact, a part of The School’s mission is to “continuously improve The School’s global leadership position in Hospitality Business operations: development, ownership, and management.”
For 84 years, The School has built its strength by educating students in hospitality operations and, for decades, the business of hospitality.  Dr. Ron Cichy, director and professor in The School explains, “The new Real Estate Development Institute will help us focus on the ‘space’ where Hospitality Business operations and management intersect with development and ownership – and to eventually own this ‘space.’”
In recent years, The School has been moving in this direction, establishing in 2005 a Specialization in Real Estate and Development for select undergraduate students with a serious interest in that segment of the industry.  It established a Real Estate andDevelopment Advisory Council comprised of alumni and industry leaders to help guide The School’s efforts in this direction.  A student club, the Real Estate Investment Club, has been formed, and its members, as well as those enrolled in the Real Estate andDevelopment Specialization, travel to the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) each January.  And for the past three years,The School has been the academic partner to the Midwest Lodging Investor’s Summit (MLIS) each summer in Chicago. 
Additionally, The School has published the Lodging Market Potential Index (L-MPI) for the past two years.  It is a tool to gauge the top 25 hotel markets in the United States.  And in only the last three years, faculty in The School have authored and edited three textbooks related to hotel development, asset management, and sustainable development.  In the same time-frame, The School has partnered with industry faculty to teach specialized short courses in hotel valuation and asset management, with increasing enthusiasm from alumni for creating and offering more such courses in the future. 
The School has also increased its engagement with professional organizations such as the Hotel Asset Managers Association, the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, and the Urban Land Institute.  It has also become a founding subscriber (academic institution) in Smith Travel Research’s SHARE program (Supporting Hotel-related Academic Research and Education).  This gives faculty access to hotel market performance data for teaching and research.
Associate Professor A.J. Singh and Hilton Hotels Professor Ray Schmidgall, both actively involved in The School’s Real Estate and Development Specialization, have been involved in the Institute’s planning stages, and Dr. Singh notes, “We see this as a way to better enhance each student’s understanding of creating value for owners – value of the asset, as well as the return on investment.”  Dr. Schmidgall adds, “This strategy applies whether the student chooses Hospitality Business operations or management or development or ownership.”
Alumnus and retired Marriott International Vice President of Owner and Franchise services Richard Farrar (BA ’73) has been named founding director of the Institute, with the immediate task of engaging alumni and industry partners. Richard says, “We will engage them in defining the plan for the Institute, including measurable outcomes, and then investing in the Institute.”
Richard has represented The School at ALIS, and will do so at MLIS, Lifestyle/Boutique Hotel Development Conference, Annual Gathering of Leaders, Celebration of Leadership, and other meetings, including that of The School’s Real Estate and Development Advisory Council.
It was at last year’s Spring meeting of the Real Estate and Development Advisory Council that members – comprised of alumni and industry leaders in the real estate and asset management segments of the industry – first suggested the establishment of a Real Estate Development Institute at The School. 
And it was at this year’s ALIS in January that the Real Estate Development Institute and Richard’s position were announced. Alumnus Jim Burba (BA ‘77), owner and president of Burba Hotel Network, which produces ALIS, also serves on The School’s Real Estate and Development Advisory Council.  “I was proud of the efficiency and creativity with which The School implemented our suggestion about an Institute,” he says. 
Also at ALIS was Alumnus Ryan Meliker (MBA ’05), vice president of Morgan Stanley Research, who organized the annual MSU alumni gathering at the Summit.  The event was hosted by The School’s 2010 Industry Leader of the Year John Belden (BA ’85), president of Davidson Hotel Company.  The event featured the introduction of Richard Farrar, and further discussion of the Real Estate Development Institute. “The School’s Real Estate and Development Specialization continues to grow, as does the need for well-educated, well-rounded graduates in this field,” says Ryan.  “The Real Estate Development Institute is a natural next step.”
The Institute will be the main topic for the next meeting of the Real Estate and Development Advisory Council, March 24 – 25, on MSU’s campus.
About The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University
Recognized as the top-ranked hospitality business school in the world, The School celebrates its 84th year anniversary in 2011.  The School has almost 10,000 graduates worldwide, including a number of leading academicians and industry executives, who have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Founded in 1927, the mission of The School is to continually enhance The School’s leadership position in hospitality business education through teaching, research, and service.  The School offers an exceptionally well-crafted curriculum, taught by innovative professors who are leading textbook authors, sought-after consultants, and respected researchers. 
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