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When Phil Ruschmeyer, now a vice president and office broker at Denver-based Frederick Ross Co., graduated from the University of Denver's real estate program in 1980, a downturn in the local real estate market loomed large. The broker credits the skills he learned in school with helping him stay afloat in a sea of failed deals.
"In 1984, I got into development," recalled Ruschmeyer, who earned a degree in real estate construction management with an emphasis on finance. "When the market turned south in 1986, I lost $250,000 of my own dough and turned to Ross. But I'm one of the few guys who didn't go bankrupt."
Since Ruschmeyer was a student, DU has taken its learning-by-doing philosophy to new heights.
Not only have students at its School of Real Estate and Construction Management built a house, this year an undergraduate class will bring out of the ground a second house and graduate students will erect a 10,000-square-foot, $800,000 office building with showroom space in the southeastern suburbs of metropolitan Denver. The office structure will be the first commercial project attempted by DU students.
The year-long commercial practicum was made possible by a DU alumnus, developer David Johnson of the Denver-based David Johnson Group Inc. Johnson, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in real estate from DU in the 1970s, donated the 2.5 acres in Centennial Airport Business Park on which the building will sit. He also is lending his expertise and considerable time to the project. Johnson drafted a syllabus that includes lectures on subjects ranging from architectural design and …