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The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business has named Brent C Smith, Ph.D., the inaugural CoStar Group Endowed Chair in Real Estate Analytics.

Funded through a $2.5 million gift from the real estate data firm CoStar Group, the endowed chair will champion data analytics research and teaching across the School of Business.  

“Dr. Smith is more than qualified and deserving to serve as this inaugural chair position,” said Lisa Ruggles, senior vice president of global research, executive leadership & support for CoStar Group. “We strongly support him and his vision of enhancing VCU’s data analytics research efforts, as these recourses are necessary to support and grow the next generation of commercial real estate professionals.”

Smith was named the CoStar Group Endowed Chair following a national search. Most recently, he was the Kornblau Professor of Real Estate in the VCU School of Business. The school’s Kornblau Real Estate Program focuses on commercial and residential real estate, benefiting from an interdisciplinary approach that includes the economic, social and cultural aspects of the real estate business.

VCU News spoke with Smith about the opportunities this new position brings.

How did you first become interested in real estate?
Since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in real estate. Earning my degree led to growth opportunities and establishing my own business as a real estate consultant. I always told myself that eventually I would pay it forward, which led me to my second career in academia.

What does the endowed chair position mean to you?
CoStar Group is the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces. So as the CoStar Group Endowed Chair, I’m carrying two flags with me. That’s a particularly interesting challenge and opportunity, and I view this position as larger than a single person. At the end of the day, I’m not just representing VCU. I’m representing an investment that CoStar is making in VCU. I intend to make VCU and CoStar proud as we grow our data analytics expertise.

What is your vision for your role?
I’ll be focusing on bringing faculty together to build on data analytics work that is already underway and to grow our collective expertise. Collaboration across disciplines will be key to keeping up with a rapidly evolving landscape and expanding opportunities. We have colleagues who are engaged in big data analysis from an array of business disciplines and across campus.

How does this benefit students?
In today’s business landscape, analyzing large sets of data is paramount to making decisions. Having graduates that matriculate out of the VCU School of Business and know how to utilize — and actually question — what’s in the data, and reach a viable conclusion, will be enormously beneficial to corporations and to communities. Data analytics skills will be an invaluable asset for our students throughout their careers. 

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