Caryn Beck-Dudley

Caryn Beck-Dudley

The Business of Real Estate


Leavey School of Business Dean Caryn Beck-Dudley on SCU’s new initiatives for real estate education.


When people think of business in Silicon Valley, they usually think of technology companies like Apple or Nvidia. But the real estate sector is just as dynamic, for both corporate clients as well as private homeowners.

At Santa Clara University, interest in real estate education has led to a first-of-its-kind symposium focused on the impact of technology on the real estate field, as well as plans for a new minor in real estate and the consideration of an institute for real estate studies.

Leavey School of Business Dean Caryn Beck-Dudley recently sat down to talk about some of these initiatives.

SCU: What are the new offerings at the Leavey School of Business for students who want to study real estate?

CBD: We historically have only had one real estate class, which is a real estate finance class. It was always offered once a year and it was very, very successful. In this last term, we offered two additional real estate courses and we’ll be offering two more, so we’ve actually added four additional courses in the real estate area.

We’re working on the paperwork for a minor in real estate. The hope is really to build the minor out to eight or nine courses that will be open not just to Leavey School of Business students but students across the campus. We want the real estate minor to be available to anybody who’s interested in taking it.

It’s really part of a larger real estate initiative to make Santa Clara known as an area where students are prepared in real estate, where real estate professionals meet with each other, and where the intersection between technology and real estate is talked about, discussed, and really has a home.

When do you think the real estate minor will be available?

We’re hoping to have everything ready by the Fall 2017 quarter.

Do you foresee any sort of center or institute supporting the initiatives?

Our hope is that we would have a center or institute for real estate and that would house real estate scholars, real estate professionals, and it would offer students a lot more opportunities. It would probably host a career fair. It may house not only a large symposium, but specialized topics with guest speakers. We’re hoping to have a full-fledged real estate institute comparable to some of the best in the country.

A symposium on May 4 is going to address technology and real estate. Can you talk about the keynote speakers?

The two keynote speakers are John A. Sobrato and Lew Wolff.

John A. Sobrato is a Santa Clara grad that’s been a very large philanthropic benefactor of Santa Clara University and the Bay Area. His family literally built Silicon Valley and has been very prominent in its development from the very early stages. He’s going to give the welcome and introduce Lew Wolff.

Mr. Wolff is a well-known real estate person in the Santa Clara/San Jose area and also a large benefactor in the area. He was the owner of the Oakland A’s and has done a lot of work in the hospitality industry. And so that’s pretty exciting to have Mr. Sobrato introduce Lew Wolff for our first symposium. It will be a fireside chat, so I’m going to be asking Mr. Wolff questions that both students and real estate professionals have posed.

Why do you think Santa Clara is so well positioned for students who are interested in real estate?

A lot of people think of Silicon Valley as only being involved in tech, but there are a lot of ways to make money here. Tech is clearly one of them, but real estate is a very dynamic area. Plus, a lot of our very prominent alums actually ended up in the real estate arena. So we have incredibly good support from our real estate alumni who have wanted a real estate program here for a very, very long time.

What are they saying about the program and about the opportunities that we have?

They are very excited because they think we fill a niche that our competing schools don’t fit. We’re going to start by preparing undergraduate students but we might move into a graduate program in the future. We’re also working with the School of Law, so it’s basically a joint project between us. They have very strong programs as well in negotiation, contracts, urban planning, and those types of areas. The intersection between a law school and an undergraduate business program is quite unique.

The other unique part is that, with real estate still being a relationship business, the fact that we have so many partners and very good support from our board members allows us to place students in really good companies at incredibly high levels. I’m pretty excited about what the future looks like.