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Va. Tech’s real estate program becomes department

Blackwood Department of Real Estate to add students, faculty

The Blackwood family. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s real estate program has earned approval from the State Council for Higher Education to become the Blackwood Department of Real Estate.

Becoming a department housed under the Pamplin School of Business will offer the former program more resources, enhance its academic and experiential learning offerings and boost its ability to recruit top faculty talent and advance research programming, according to a news release.

“With the other academic units on campus, it puts us on even footing for resources,” said Kevin Boyle, the department head. He also noted it’s a big signal in the academic world. “Being a department is something for academics that has a lot more prestige than being an academic program.”

The intention is to grow from 400 real estate majors to 500, and keep the minors at about 150 or 200 students, Boyle said. The program had three full-time faculty and one shared with engineering, along with four instructors. As a department, two more faculty have already accepted offers and Boyle hopes to bring in two more, including one to run The Center for Real Estate Excellence.

In September 2021, the real estate program was named for the Blackwood family. Willis Blackwood, founder and president of Blackwood Development Co. Inc., his wife Mary Nolen Blackwood, and their children, Morgan Blackwood Patel and Notel Blackwood, have donated $10 million to Virginia Tech since 2018.

The real estate program was established in 2013 with four first-year students and has grown to 400 students with majors focusing on commercial and residential real estate as well as financial aspects of the industry.

“The real estate educational ecosystem at Virginia Tech is reflective of the real estate industry at large — highly collaborative, ever-evolving and, most of all, exciting,” said Roberta “Robin” Russell, interim dean of the Pamplin College of Business, in a statement. “The Blackwood Department of Real Estate serves as a model of success for integrative education and partnership-building within the university.”

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