To describe Kevin Boyle as an educator or a real estate authority is to do him a great disservice. While he has a career pedigree that entitles him to be labeled a “savant” in either sector, Kevin is using his extensive knowledge not to line his pockets, but to usher in future generations of real estate professionals. He is at once an intellectual and entrepreneur, and, as founding director of the Blackwood Program in Real Estate at Virginia Tech, he is bringing it all to bear to the benefit of students seeking an immersive education at a top-notch university.
Virginia Tech, an R1 research university with a main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, is the college of choice for 37,000 students. The academic program is rated among the best colleges for real estate majors, placing third for undergraduate programs behind Penn and Berkeley by Great Business Schools. Named for the Blackwood family, the real estate program is also ranked in the top five by College Factual and has gone from four first-year students in 2013 to nearly 400 majors and over 100 minors today, making it one of the fastest-rising programs in the country.
We spoke with Kevin to learn more about his background, the Blackwood Program in Real Estate, which he led the development of, and what makes it unique.
Kevin, tell us a little about the Blackwood Program in Real Estate.
The program was created to provide a comprehensive study of the entire life cycle of real estate assets, preparing students for careers in development, finance, sales, property management, and beyond. While students receive an exceptional academic foundation overall, they are thoroughly engaged by interaction with and guidance from successful real estate professionals. Students learn to work in a simulated, industry-focused environment and to solve complex challenges that occur in the real world. Real estate is an exciting puzzle where one gets to form the pieces and decide how they fit together. Our academic program is a dynamic learning atmosphere, where students’ goals are cultivated and facilitated to become creative problem solvers. This program is on the frontier of modern education.
Tell us a little about your background. How did you get started in real estate education?
When I was working on my Ph.D. at Wisconsin, I discovered that there were not many academic programs for real estate. It was a time when data were becoming more available, and the industry was learning that there was more to the value of properties than just the physical elements. It prompted me to begin research of property value assessment methods and the processes used to measure value. It also led to my consulting on breach of contract and property damage matters. As my research progressed and I began collaborating with people in the field, the gap in education became more obvious. Real estate courses were added to finance programs, but these programs do not provide broad spectrum knowledge of the industry. I thought a holistic program was needed that takes students from the initial conceptualization of an asset all the way through to its sale or disposition at the end of its life because there are many important aspects that real estate professionals must understand and utilize throughout their careers.
What makes Virginia Tech’s Blackwood Program in Real Estate unique?
A few things. First, it is an innovative program. We encourage entrepreneurship and we’re not afraid of change. It is not always easy in the academic world to make changes but thinking about change and innovation is the spark of educational success. Second, students get to customize the breadth and depth of their education through choosing a second major or minor. Third, students love the classes, the university, and the campus. There’s a palpable school spirit here and students thrive within it.
Tell us a little about your fellowships, research, and publishing.
I am a fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. I have published over 100 journal articles and I’ve co-authored four books, which include the globally recognized A Primer on Nonmarket Valuation and the National Academies of Science’s Valuing Ecosystem Services: Toward Better Environmental Decision-Making.
My research includes stated-preference methods, contingent valuation and choice modeling, revealed-preference methods, property-value, travel-cost models and averting behavior models, and benefit transfers. Application of this research includes surface and groundwater, land use, forest health, climate change, marine resources, and human health, and I’ve participated in numerous projects throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Chile, Australia, Bangladesh, and India.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Without a doubt, it is working with our team to create this academic program. Real estate affects people’s lives 24/7/365 through where they live, work, shop and play, and this academic program will be here long after I’m gone and will continue to benefit society in the future.
Kevin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, an MS from Oregon State University, and a BA with distinction from the University of Maine. He has received awards, including Publication of Merit, U.S. Professor of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Alumni Award for Research Excellence and Academy of Faculty Leadership from Virginia Tech, and Distinguished Maine Professor and Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award from the University of Maine.
Founding Director, Blackwood Program in Real Estate