By Meg Lappe

Now that University students can co-major or minor in real estate, the Villanova Real Estate Society has been created for students passionate about broadening their knowledge about the real estate field.

The society works closely with the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, which helps to provide the University with opportunities to learn more about real estate through class offerings and events to help the students with the opportunity to network with professionals.

The Center, which was donated by Dan DiLella, the president and CEO of BPG Properties who is also an alumnus, allows the VRES many opportunities to speak with different real estate professionals that are members of the center.

The Center works with different industry partners such as Urban Land Institute, Commercial Real Estate Women Philadelphia, Pension Real Estate Association, CCIM and Member of International Council of Shopping Center.

VRES has over 50 active members, with Shawn D. Howton, Ph.D., and director of the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, overseeing the society. It has a “strong interest to grow and expand through co-sponsoring events held on campus” says the president of the society, Curran Darling. The events are open to all and focus on different aspects of the real estate industry.

Some of the events they have held in the past include information sessions with professors to introduce students to the new real estate classes and also to offer tips on how to get an internship and break into the industry after graduating.

In October VRES hosted a panel of six alumni, including Steven McCraney from McCraney Properties, Rich Alijan from Merion Realty Partners and David Gensemer of Blue Sunsets, all of who are high-level executives in the real estate industry.

McCraney spoke about how his entrepreneurial mindset helped him advance his career as soon as he graduated.

This mindset seems to have also helped many of the other speakers throughout their careers. The event concluded with a networking session where the VRES members were able to ask questions to the professionals, trade business cards and discuss internship and job opportunities in the future.

The next event will be held Tuesday, Nov. 13, and is open to anyone that is interested. It is co-sponsored with the Mergers & Acquisitions Society and focuses on Private Equity investing. There will be alumni and regional experts in Private Equity real estate investing. Some of the speakers include BPG Properties, Urdang Capital Management and KTR Partners.

The speakers will talk about the private equity real estate industry and also provide students with tips on how to get into the industry.

Following that event, VRES will host another event Wednesday, Dec. 12, focusing on real estate accounting.

One of the classes that is offered at the University is a real estate accounting class and is taught by Edward Liva who is a partner at KPMG. Liva will speak to the students, and other alumni executives will speak and answer questions about how accounting and finance are connected to the real estate industry.

More events will be available in the spring semester and they will be announced after winter break.

“The Villanova Real Estate Society and the DiLella Center for Real Estate are excited by the increased interest within the Villanova community and the growth of the society,” Darling says. “I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the executive board members come together and take a personal responsibility in the growth of the society.”


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