August 14, 2023

Community Partner Profile: How the University of Tulsa is Creating New Pathways to Real Estate Careers

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The University of Tulsa (TU)’s new real estate program provides students with an entry point into exploring a dynamic industry that touches everyone’s lives– and with Tulsa’s consistently growing population, there’s an increased need for qualified housing professionals and programs to support it. We connected with Meagan McCollum, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Finance in the Collins College of Business at the University of Tulsa, to learn more about the real estate program and how its students’ research is helping drive change for the region.

Q: What are some of your goals for the TU real estate program?

My primary goal for the TU real estate program is to work towards becoming a trusted resource for all of our stakeholders including students, alumni, real estate professionals, and our larger Tulsa community. I aspire for our program to be a hub of activity that can help serve the needs of each of these groups. For students, I hope to expose them to an interesting potential career path, provide them with a holistic overview of how real estate touches everyone’s lives, and help them build a solid foundation of analytical skills that they can utilize in future employment opportunities or in their personal financial lives. For alumni, I aim to provide networking and professional development opportunities, as well as exciting avenues to engage with our current students. However, my hope is that our reach will go beyond our students and alumni and that we can become a trusted partner in real estate research and analysis for public and private organizations in our city, state, and region.

Q: The University of Tulsa real estate program was inspired by research that showed many TU alumni had pursued real estate careers following graduation. Have you all continued to see that trend? And can this program support future/current students interested in a career in real estate?

Absolutely, I continue to regularly meet and make connections with TU alumni and supporters around the world whose careers have in one way or another led them to engage with the real estate industry. Our program hopes to continue to engage those alumni and leverage them as a resource to help create opportunities for our students. Since the official launch of our undergraduate real estate minor last fall, we’ve had a great reception internally with our students across many different majors at TU as well as externally with many employers who are interested in our students who pursue this path. Our next step is building out our curriculum to create pathways for TU graduate students to engage with real estate coursework as we continue to refine our undergraduate classes to be accessible to students and relevant to the industry.

Q: How does the TU real estate program and the university as a whole, help support the area’s growing talent pipeline and prepare students for a dynamic modern workforce?

Our real estate program provides students with an entry point into exploring a dynamic industry that touches everyone’s lives. I was very intentional in designing our introductory level class, Real Estate Principles, to be a course that any University of Tulsa student could take early on in their college career, regardless of their major. Additionally, even though the program’s “home base” is the Collins College of Business, the real estate minor isn’t just for business students, it can be added by any TU undergraduate student to their program of study. The future professional application of the content of the minor could look very different – say a political science vs. an engineering vs. a pre-med student. Our business students can also benefit by having the perspectives that those non-business students can bring to classroom discussions. The real estate program is just one example of the kind of cross-disciplinary interactions at TU that help equip our students for their future professional lives where they will be challenged to constantly innovate.

Q: With Tulsa’s population expected to grow by 10,000 people in the next 10 years and nearly 13,000 new housing units needed during that same period, PartnerTulsa and its community partners have launched and utilized programs like the downtown redevelopment fund, the affordable housing trust fund and Tax Increment Finance to support investments in commercial and residential real estate. How do you think the area’s community partners can come together to continue to support Tulsa’s growth?

I am excited by the initial work that some of our talented TU undergraduate business students have done this summer to help evaluate the impact of many of PartnerTulsa’s programs. These students, through TU’s TURC (Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge) program, have done a lot of work in collecting and organizing data to undertake analysis of these programs and make suggestions on how future iterations can have an even greater impact on supporting Tulsa’s growth. I think empowering community partners with actionable recommendations on how they can sustainably support Tulsa’s growth is really important and something I’m excited about contributing to through the TU Real Estate program in the years to come.