Inside view: Herb Tousley

  • Updated: August 30, 2012 - 6:05 PM

Herb Tousley

Director of the University of St. Thomas' real estate master's degree program

It's been nearly three years since commercial real estate industry veteran Herb Tousley took over as director of the University of St. Thomas' real estate master's degree program and the university's Shenehon Center for Real Estate.

Tousley had been teaching graduate and undergraduate real estate classes as an adjunct instructor since 2003 when the opportunity to lead the department came up. He recognized that he could use his hands-on real estate experience to guide future industry leaders. His experience includes work in retail, multifamily, affordable housing, office and mixed-use properties. He's been involved in investment analysis, financing, acquisition and/or development of properties valued at more than $80 million. He most recently was a senior vice president at Coldwell Banker Commercial Griffin Cos.

St. Thomas offers a bachelor's degree in real estate studies, a master's in real estate, and professional designation programs.

QHow important is your hands-on experience in this job?

AIt's really important because a lot of times there's a lot of theory behind what you read in textbooks, but practical experience adds a lot.

QDo you ever miss doing deals?

AYeah, but I don't regret it, because I really like what I'm doing.

QWhat do you enjoy most about being in the classroom?

AAs you work with young people, you see some of them really start to get it. I taught as an adjunct instructor, so I've been around long enough where I'm starting to see students I had in class actually in the real estate world doing things.

QDespite the downturn, students are still pursuing real estate careers?

AYes. Even through the downturn, our master's program in real estate continued to grow, although very slowly. When I started there were 18 students and now we have 30.

QWho's pursuing master's degrees?

AMost are already working in commercial real estate in some fashion, so they're either trying to change their area of emphasis or upgrade their skills and get ready for senior management-type positions.

QWhat are most pursuing?

AIt used to be everybody wanted to be a developer; they were all going to be the next Donald Trump. We've seen that change because for several years there just weren't a lot of development opportunities. People changed their focus to finance, property management or asset management, which were less impacted by the downturn.

Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at wolfliz@aol.com.

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