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Real estate new focus of U. business school

(Deseret News) Strip malls, walkable communities and big-box developments may seem like a thing of the past thanks to the recession, but the Univeristy of Utah is betting the construction industry will bounce back, and when it does, the school plans to have a new crop of graduate students at the ready.

In the next week, the university hopes to gain approval to officially offer the master's degree in real estate development, a professional degree rivaled at many top-level schools across the nation.

"If you look to the past, one of the main drivers of Utah's economy has been the construction industry," said Scott Schaefer, associate dean for academic affairs at the U.'s David Eccles School of Business. He said there is definitely an increasing local demand for people who understand real estate development, both private and commercial.

Schaefer, who is also an economist, says that the recession in Utah "is just a speed bump." He is optimistic that the state Board of Regents will approve the program, which would allow the school to officially market the degree and begin enrolling students. Despite an economic recession and a decrease in new construction throughout the state, Schaefer said there is high demand for skills that are useful across a broad range of employers. 

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