College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Real World Real Estate Program at ILLINOIS


By Laura Ude

U.S. News and World Report regularly ranks the ILLINOIS Real Estate Program in its Top 10 Real Estate Programs in the U.S. You can understand why when students are getting cutting-edge courses like Finance 490—Real Estate Development.

Finance 490 is a real estate class unlike any other offered at the University. Since it is a primarily lecture-based class, students in Finance 490 are graded on their attendance, participation and one final project. The course meets only once a week for an hour and a half, and students receive one hour of credit. Each week, there is a lecture from a leading business professional in the real estate field, which provides students with valuable, first-hand information on real estate development.

Roger Cannaday, an Associate Professor Emeritus of Finance, has been the campus leader in getting the class organized. Although Cannaday retired in the summer of 2006, he came right back the following fall. He teaches each fall for the college and says he wants to teach indefinitely.

Before Fin 490 was available, Cannaday said that there were not a lot of courses offered for students who wanted to pursue a career in real estate development. When he heard about the idea for Fin 490, therefore, he did not hesitate to facilitate the organization of the class.

The idea to start such a class came from Peter Borzak. Borzak, who is a key partner at Pine Tree Commercial Realty, is also active in the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organization that, among many things, focuses on educating young people in the real estate business. Borzak came up with the idea to have the Foundation sponsor a Career Day, which is a two-day event that features panels of real estate professionals giving advice to students from six universities.

“So many people in college are starving for real world experience, so we wanted to bring them together to learn about business,” Borzak said. “Career day is a 24 hour intensive experience featuring speakers, meetings, roundtables with Chicago real estate professionals, and tours of local development projects.”

It was at this Career Day when Borzak met Cannaday. After Career Day, Borzak thought of the idea for a class that would have a similar effect for students, and Cannaday embraced it. Borzak felt especially strong about starting the class at Illinois because even though he is not an alumnus, his father, aunt and many other relatives attended school at Illinois, so he feels a great connection to the University.

Because of Borzak’s career in real estate development, he said he was able to call people he knows in the business and get them to sign up for lectures. Many of the 16 speakers are University alumni, such as Bruce Boruszak, Peter Borzak’s cousin. Boruszak is an active alumnus who serves on the Dean’s Business Council for the University of Illinois College of Business and on the Board of Directors of the University of Illinois College of Business Alumni Association. He has helped plan events such as the Homecoming Tent Party, the spring lunch party in Chicago, and sponsored some teaching awards.

When he spoke at the second class, Boruszak addressed the legal aspects of real estate transactions, such as how to manage relationships with attorneys in real estate. So far, he has heard positive feedback about the class.

Besides drawing in great speakers, Borzak’s class has also given students the opportunity for leadership, such as Alan Lagunov. Lagunov, a senior in finance who was president of the Real Estate club a few years ago, met Borzak through the college’s mentor program, and the two have had a running dialogue ever since.

“Peter called me at 6 a.m. the day after the annual Eisenberg dinner to discuss his idea for the class, which shows how much of his time he dedicates to helping students,” Lagunov said.

Lagunov now acts as a student advisor for the real estate club and for Fin 490, which includes handling the emails from each week’s speaker and going out to dinner with the speakers after class.

“Anyone in the class can come to the dinners,” Lagunov said. “It gives students the opportunity to ask questions and network in a more casual setting.”

With the help of Lagunov and people like Boruszak and Cannaday, Borzak has been able to make his idea for Fin 490 a success.


UIUC College of Business