Classrooms without walls


October 28, 2011

At Marquette Business, our physical location is David Straz, Jr. Hall. In it are classrooms, meeting rooms and offices, but the learning, teaching and stewardship goes well beyond our walls. From projects that involve advanced teleconferencing across oceans to hands-on internship experiences, Marquette Business students are engaged in a wide array of applied learning opportunities that give them a truly global business perspective.

This semester, like past semesters, students in the Center for Real Estate have been logging thousands of miles over land and air visiting corporations and alumni professionals and attending industry conferences. Students aren’t the only ones spreading their wings. In addition to the numerous academic conferences our faculty members attend, one of our more prolific junior faculty members is advancing her research during a fellowship at Yale University.

Read on to learn more about our real estate students’ adventures and Dr. Olga Yakusheva’s research fellowship, which are only two among dozens of examples of Marquette Business’ commitment to giving students and faculty “classrooms without walls.”

Real estate students hit the road

In 2011 alone, Marquette real estate students have been to professional industry conferences and case competitions in Chicago, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Scottsdale and Los Angeles. And that doesn’t include the more than 20 visits made to commercial real estate project sites since last September. Indeed, the Center for Real Estate is a classroom without walls.

“Two years ago we asked our founding members what they wanted most from us. They responded with this: Give the students experiences most students never have and get more visible within the industry,” said Andy Hunt, assistant director of the center. “We’ve thrown our efforts into enhancing our applied focus through attendance at conference meetings for several industry organizations. In the past year alone we’ve taken nearly 100 students on conference trips, career day events, case competitions and site visits.”

Students have found the experiences invaluable. “Conference trips are important because they allow us to gain valuable real world experience we cannot get in a classroom,” senior Kyle McElwee said. “Students hear that networking is extremely important but need to be put in situations that allow them to develop these necessary skills. I can find a definition of "networking" in a dictionary, can listen to professors tell me how important it is, but this knowledge is incomplete unless a real experience accompanies it.”

Senior Scott Benedetto, who recently returned from the NAIOP conference in Arizona, added that attending these meetings provides unique insights into the marketplace. “Attending this conference was important because it allowed me to analyze and see the Arizona market, one that I would not normally see in the Midwest,” he said. “It exposed the vast differences between the two markets and the current economic struggles that are affecting this specific region.”

Hunt believes that these experiences aren’t merely educational – they also give students a decided career advantage. “We believe that the networking opportunities and real-world experiences for our students at all of these events truly sets them apart from their peers entering the industry,” he said. “It helps them to be more confident and knowledgeable of their industry and prepares them to be leaders earlier in their career.”

Video interviews with Center for Real Estate students are available on the center’s YouTube channel.

New Haven bound: A Q&A with Dr. Olga Yakusheva

Dr. Olga Yakusheva, assistant professor of economics, received national media attention last year for her studies on weight gain among college women and what she calls the “myth of the freshman 15.”

This academic year, Yakusheva is on leave from Marquette as she completes a research fellowship at Yale University. She spoke with Marquette Business via e-mail:

MUBiz: Tell us a bit about the research fellowship as a whole…

Yakusheva: This is an opportunity to work on social networks, or the area of social science that looks at how people are linked and how your decisions are impacted by those around you.

MUBiz: How did this opportunity present itself?

Yakusheva: One of my colleagues told me that Yale was looking for people working in this area, and I contacted Yale inquiring if this was something they thought I should pursue. They encouraged me to apply and offered me the position soon after.

MUBiz: What, specifically, are you studying during the fellowship?

Yakusheva: I am working on three specific projects: peer effects in weight gain, peer effects in adolescent pregnancy and peer effects among hospitalized patients. Knowing how an individual’s decisions impact people around them can help design public policies that harness the power of social network to reach, from within, groups where traditional policy methods have been ineffective.

MUBiz: What, if anything, surprised you about the opportunity? What about New Haven and Yale have you found interesting?

Yakusheva: I was surprised at how quickly it happened. It was only a matter of a couple of weeks between the time when I found out about this opportunity and the time when I received the offer. When I arrived at Yale, I was surprised to see how similar the campus is to Marquette’s, but I think Milwaukee has more to offer as compared to New Haven.

MUBiz: Why is this important to you?

Yakusheva: This is a tremendous opportunity for me to advance as a researcher. Yale has a massive amount of intellectual capital and incredible resources. I have had opportunities to attend seminars in my field that I would not have had access to if I wasn’t here. In addition, it is nice to be able to focus on research, although I do miss interacting with students.

MUBiz: What value, do you think, this will ultimately bring to your role at Marquette Business?

Yakusheva: This will help me develop professionally and personally so that I can be a better colleague and teacher.