Virginia Tech Goes to Germany (Part 1)

Part 1: Dr. Goss and Dr. Beamish explain the philosophy behind the program.

Last fall we included multifamily educator Rosemary Carucci Goss, Ph.D. in MHN’s annual list of the “Multifamily Industry’s Most Influential.” We selected Dr. Goss—who currently serves as Residential Property Management Advisory Board Professor at Virginia Tech’s Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management—because she has shaped and influenced three generations of property management students. Her comprehensive curriculum, which emphasizes staying abreast of international property management trends, continues to turn out well-rounded graduates who are ready to take on a variety of challenges.

So when companies like Kettler and Winn Management need to infuse new talent into their leasing offices or ensure their interns are serious about learning the ropes, they rely on students from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. Graduates of the Residential Property Management program, which has been offered by the university since May 1985, come fully equipped with the skills and education needed to hit the ground running.

This spring Dr. Goss partnered with Julia Beamish, Ph.D. Professor of Housing and Department Head of Virginia Tech’s Apparel, Housing, & Resource Management Department for a three-week “Globalization of Housing and Property Management Tour” in Germany. Thirteen students participated in the educational event which was coordinated by Institute for the International Education of Students (IES). They walked away with an in-depth look at sustainability and apartment operations in three German cities: Freiburg, Berlin and Frankfurt. Enduring take-aways will shape their viewpoints about a number of important challenges facing the multifamily industry as they graduate from Virginia Tech and begin careers in the multifamily industry. MHN met up with the group in Berlin and in this “Special Report: Virginia Tech Goes to Germany” we’ll share highlights of their study abroad tour.

“Our university really encourages our students to study abroad,” says Dr. Goss. “We’re becoming so much more of a global society. In the world today, right now, our real estate is too much focused on America. But that is obviously changing. This tour of Germany broadens the college experience.”

Dr. Beamish adds, “They get to experience some other things in addition to property management when they’re on this type of tour. You’re pulling in world history, you’re pulling in architecture, you’re paying attention to the way people interact and cultural differences. The students are commenting on food and the way service is handled at a restaurant or at a shop. All the while they’re making comparisons between what it’s like here and what it’s like in the United States—and I think that’s so valuable. It contributes to a well-rounded person. They come away thinking, ‘Maybe there are things I really liked here, maybe there are thing I really like about the United States… but the way we’ve always done it isn’t the way it’s always done everywhere.'”

“That’s the difference in someone going to a four-year program like ours,” explains Dr. Goss. “At a community college they learn how to lease apartments and do accounting. But we’re not just training people, we’re also giving them a global perspective through the four year degree in property management. Students gain an opportunity to be able to write, communicate, think, reason, and make good decisions. Exposing them to different ways of thinking (the world doesn’t look exactly like it does in Blacksburg, VA) means that five or ten years down the road, something that they saw here—or an experience they had—can have a real big impact on them in their professional lives.”

The first stop for Virginia Tech was the Black Forest area in Germany’s Baden-Württemberg region for a visit to the Hansgrohe factory as well as extensive walking tours of the city of Freiburg which is considered by many environmentalists to be the greenest city in the world. In Part 2 of MHN’s Special Report, we’ll share take-aways from Virginia Tech students.