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“Since receiving my degree, I was able to successfully transition from an agency with a $15 million annual budget to one with a $90 million annual budget.”
Editor's Note: The Harbert College of Business is soaring. On September 13, we formally opened Horton-Hardgrave Hall, our new 100,000-square-foot business building. Alongside with Lowder Hall, this new addition is part of a world-class business complex that ranks among the nation’s best. What follows is one in a series of stories highlighting members of the Auburn family who have been the driving force behind our growing national reputation. To learn more, please visit harbert.auburn.edu
Damon Duncan stepped into the role of President and CEO of the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority in April 2019. Earlier, after years as an affordable housing professional, he felt he lacked a full grasp of development from each vantage point of his career.
Duncan already had great credentials: he earned a master’s in public administration from Central Michigan University and completed the Executive Director Education Program at the Center for Government Services at Rutgers University.
Completing the Harbert College of Business Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program in 2015 marked a critical turning point in his career.
He found the program after a vigorous search for a school that fit his needs.
“I was seeking a real estate program that not only focused on finance, but also construction, project management and market analysis,” Duncan said, adding that he wasn’t interested in an online program or one that provided no real connection to the university.
“Auburn provided an awesome on-campus experience, along with structured networking events, exposing students to alumni, faculty from various departments and, most importantly, exposure to real estate industry leaders willing to support and aid the program,” Duncan said.
He acquired advanced skills during the program -- the ability to conduct market analysis, to structure financing of a real estate deal, and to understand the different types of construction and the financial implications associated with the various methods.
“Auburn provided an awesome on-campus experience, along with structured networking events, exposing students to alumni, faculty from various departments and, most importantly, exposure to real estate industry leaders willing to support and aid the program ...”
But it was the MRED experience as a whole that had the greatest impact.
“What stands out most is the peer-to-peer learning that takes place within the program,” Duncan said. “The diverse real estate professionals that matriculated in the program provided a much broader perspective than textbook learning. Also, the field studies, both domestic and international, provided experiences that are unmatched by other programs. Since graduation, I have accompanied future classes on their international trips.”
He said MRED Director Michael Robinson, the program’s leader and founder, is one of its greatest strengths.
“Michael is not just a professor. He is a committed member of the MRED family,” Duncan said. “His commitment is felt by each class that enrolls in the program.”
After earning his MRED degree, Duncan said doors began to open for him professionally. He was more attractive to larger employment markets. And it has paid off.
“Since receiving my degree, I was able to successfully transition from an agency with a $15 million annual budget to one with a $90 million annual budget,” he added.