Grambling State University made history in its recent alliance agreement with Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business to offer real estate development courses at a historically black university.
Under the terms of the year-long agreement, which began March 1, 2021, ASU will provide GSU with a list of undergraduate courses for consideration by its eligible students. ASU will also provide institutional guidance, academic instruction, and oversight for the pilot program.
GSU is the primary point of contact for eligible student enrollment and academic support during the program.
Murphy Cheatham, who serves on the Grambling University Foundation Board, was a student in the inaugural year of ASU’s Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program in 2007.
“Mark Stapp was my mentor and one of our faculty,” he said. “He then became the director of the program and we stayed in touch throughout the years. Mark has been a mentor of mine since I graduated from the program in 2007. It was that relationship that spurred this opportunity.”
The partnership idea grew out of a discussion about minorities in real estate and Cheatham’s personal experience in the industry, as well as Stapp’s frustrations attracting people from underserved communities and finding quality job opportunities for those who attended the MRED program, Cheatham said.
“In April of 2020, we were speaking about my path in the real estate industry and why it is so tough for minorities to get into the real estate development and commercial real estate brokerage,” Cheatham said. “Until recently, both industries have been primarily ‘family-run’ businesses.”
“I had no idea about the real estate industry when I graduated from Grambling State University. I was introduced to it by a personal friend while living in Arizona. Even with an MRED degree, it was tough for me to enter the industry. I have learned key aspects of real estate to launch my firm.”
Shortly after that discussion, Cheatham reached out to leadership at GSU, who in turn worked to get the program on the Louisiana State University Board of Regents agenda.
“This partnership supports GSU students being able to expand their training to include the acquisition of skills associated with real estate,” said GSU provost and vice president of Academic Affairs Connie Walton. “GSU students will be able to enroll in online real estate courses that are taught by faculty at Arizona State University. We expect that there will be student interest across disciplines at the university.”
Walton said the dean of the College of Business, Donald White, is currently reviewing options related to the establishment of a minor in real estate.
“City councils, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups don’t create cities and towns — real estate developers do,” said Mark Stapp, executive director of ASU’s MRED program and Fred E. Taylor Professor in Real Estate. “Real estate is more than an investment, it is the physical place we see as a community. It builds wealth, creates freedom, houses our economy, and offers opportunity — it’s the foundation for the success of a community.”
“This pilot program will help create an awareness of real estate development as a viable career industry,” Stapp said.
“I am an alum of Grambling State University and Arizona State University and I helped facilitate a partnership between them to create an opportunity for GSU students to earn a minor in real estate and matriculate to the Master of Real Estate Development program,” Cheatham said. “The partnership began in March for Grambling State students and will go a long way in helping foster more diversity in the commercial real estate industry.”
Interested Grambling State University students can sign up for the program at wpcarey.asu.edu/grambling.