Merging the Classroom With the Boardroom

NAIOP Central Florida saw the writing on the wall many years ago: the state of Florida needed more education devoted to commercial real estate and the Florida commercial real estate industry needed more trained, motivated graduates who want to develop locally. It presented the perfect opportunity to blend the two needs into a winning CRE program at the University of Central Florida (UCF), located in Orlando, with industry heavyweights and NAIOP supporting the initiative.

The Orlando community has greatly benefited from NAIOP Central Florida’s commitment to UCF’s Dr. P. Phillips School of Real Estate. It is one the fastest growing universities in the state but didn’t have a CRE school in place to support the swelling demand of students. Not only did NAIOP Central Florida raise $600,000 to support the Jim Heistand – NAIOP Eminent Scholar Chair in Real Estate, it created two successful annual programs: the "Development 101" educational series and a real estate case study competition known as the "NAIOP REAL Bowl."

Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller

"The UCF Dr. P. Phillips School of Real Estate allows students to stay in Florida to get an education and use their connections to remain in Orlando, nurture their careers and develop locally," says Shannon Miller, executive director with NAIOP Central Florida. "It’s building a better community from within!"

The annual Development 101 educational series was first introduced in 2008. Currently, it is separated into six monthly sessions, including a site tour and a kickoff program - all of which are led by local industry veterans. Session topics feature essential components for getting started in CRE such as Site Acquisition & Due Diligence, Entitlement & Permitting and Construction: From Start to Finish. Students who participate in the Development 101 series are encouraged to use the skills they learn in the NAIOP REAL Bowl.

Students who are enrolled in the UCF Dr. P. Phillips School of Real Estate at UCF have the ability to join NAIOP as student members for just $19 annually. This low price has had a considerable positive impact on membership for the chapter, spiking DL members by 25 percent and student membership 12-fold from 2008 to 2009.

Will Lenihan

Will Lenihan

"Our overriding goal is to give students a real world CRE experience and facilitate their learning about the development process. The Development 101 series and case study competition are ideal platforms for DLs and students to really learn how these things come together," remarks Will Lenihan, NAIOP Central Florida DL education co-chair. "It touches a lot of different areas and gives them a chance to learn outside the classroom."

The case study competition, the NAIOP REAL Bowl, was modeled after similar university challenges that NAIOP Washington and NAIOP Georgia host. The REAL Bowl is a unique academic environment where undergraduate and graduate real estate students work with local industry professionals in a mutually beneficial experiential format.

Under the direction of NAIOP Central Florida’s case competition committee, whose membership includes real estate professionals throughout the Central Florida region, a real world competition was created that allows some of the best and brightest students in Florida to showcase their talents on a conceptualized land development project.

Erik Lembcke

Erik Lembcke

"The NAIOP Central Florida REAL Bowl adds tremendous value to the endowment given to UCF, bridging the gap between academia and industry by engaging students in the development process, enabling them to connect with local professionals and increasing the retention of talent locally," say Erik Lembcke, NAIOP Central Florida DL education co-chair.

To learn more about NAIOP Central Florida’s DLs, their commitment to UCF and programs offered at the Dr. P. Phillips School of Real Estate, visit

From the Archives: Business / Trends Articles from the Previous Issue

Senior businessman discussing project with staff

Could Your Company Benefit from Outside Board Members? 

Given the size of your company and your entrepreneurial temperament, you may not want to be encumbered by an independent board of directors. But if you are an aging CEO or even a younger one with plans to someday turn over the reins of power to the next generation, the steadying hand of a board that has a healthy dose of directors from outside of the family may be what the company needs to survive and prosper.

group presentation

First Look - Keys to Prospering in Today‚Äôs Environment 

The real estate industry has experienced a roller coaster ride of challenges, opportunities, setbacks and unexpected surprises.