Published: Nov. 2, 2022

Focused professional education and experiences have produced generations of real estate talent.

CUREC's Annual Real Estate Forum 2022

Michael Kercheval, executive director of CUREC, at the 25th Annual Real Estate Forum earlier this year. Below, Koelbel Alumni Award winner Richard Morgan (MBA'98).

Twenty-five years ago, as a booming Colorado real estate industry faced a shortage of professional talent, the CU Real Estate Center (CUREC) at the Leeds School of Business helped launch real estate electives for MBA students to fill that dire need for skilled talent.

Today, many of those alumni occupy senior positions within the industry. And CUREC continues to prepare students with a variety of new educational offerings: an undergraduate emphasis in real estate, a one-year MS in Real Estate degree, a professional education series, and real estate education in the business minor program. 

Recognizing a stalwart supporter of CUREC

Richard MorganThis past October, CUREC hosted a reception at the Civica Building in Cherry Creek to celebrate 25 years of graduate-level real estate education in Leeds’ MBA program. In front of dozens of friends and alumni, Buz and Carl Koelbel bestowed the Koelbel Alumni Award to Richard B. Morgan (MBA’98), SVP and head of lending in Denver at Kirkpatrick Bank, for his robust involvement over the last 24 years. The award honors the Koelbel family, and was named after Buz Koelbel who received the inaugural award at the Annual Real Estate Forum in 2013.

Morgan’s acceptance remarks included a fond memory from grad school of being invited to lunch by a founding father of CUREC, Walt Koelbel (Buz’s father and Carl’s grandfather). “It was such an incredible honor that an industry icon would make time for a student,” Morgan said, noting there were such limited opportunities to network with industry professionals back then.

“The small investment of time Mr. Koelbel spent with me was incredibly valuable in the long run. The experience also impressed upon me that, as others did for me, I have an obligation to give back to the center. This is the bedrock of a strong alumni program and will be a key factor in CUREC’s path to becoming the #1 Real Estate Program in the World,” he said. 

Morgan has served in various roles for CUREC, including chair and past chair of the International Advisory Board (IAB) and currently the chair of the IAB’s Nominating and Governance Committee, in addition to participating in the Annual Real Estate Forum, Events and Engagement, and Internship and Placement subcommittees.

“It would be difficult to find an alum that has been involved at his level for this length of time,” said Lisa Peck, the center’s operations coordinator and liaison to the IAB. Echoing Peck, CUREC Executive Director Michael Kercheval noted that “alumni like Richard are the bedrock of the center, building the foundation for the future while leaving in their wake a legacy of excellence.”

A bridge to industry

Founded by Colorado’s most important real estate industry leaders in the 1980s, CUREC offers real estate students access to world-class faculty, broad course offerings, and professional networks of developers, investors and real estate managers.

The center is not only at the forefront of thought leadership in the global property sector, but also a key resource for graduate and undergraduate students in obtaining internships and ultimately permanent positions through center connections.  

Over 500 undergraduates are pursuing real estate as their area of emphasis, making Leeds’ real estate program one of the nation’s largest. And with the industry’s continued and enthusiastic support of CUREC, the majority of the school’s graduating real estate students are placed each year.     

“The opportunities for CUREC are extraordinary, especially the opportunity to firmly link academic excellence with dynamic business-sector needs,” said Kercheval. “I can clearly see the economic and social benefits of enabling top-trained talent to soar in the industry by fielding graduates into upwardly-mobile global careers.”

Last March, CUREC celebrated the 25th anniversary of its signature Annual Real Estate Forum, collaborating with national industry leaders to organize and host the region’s premier real estate conference and networking event. 

Real-world opportunities

The center supports student success in the workplace by raising and directing scholarship dollars, sponsoring business treks to major domestic and international firms, providing training courses such as Advanced Excel, ARGUS and USGBC LEED certification, and funding real estate case analysis and presentation competition programming for CU real estate students. 

It also supports the community with unique professional learning and networking experiences that connect professionals with others in the industry from around the globe.