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"Auburn provides the method of delivery that best fits my continued education preference by providing the MRED program as a hybrid model." -- David Northern, Sr.
David A. Northern, Sr., a first-year student in Auburn University’s Master of Real Estate Development program, wants to make a difference in Birmingham. As the new President and CEO of the Housing Authority’s Birmingham Division, he will be leading the state’s largest housing authority.
For more than 25 years, Northern has established a distinguished career in federal housing assistance programs including urban planning and policy development. As former Executive Director/CEO at the Housing Authority of Champaign County, Illinois, he was responsible for administrative and professional oversight in planning, directing, and coordinating its varied and complex housing and community development programs while ensuring compliance with HUD regulations.
At Auburn, he’s sharpening his skillset to also get the job done right in Birmingham. Through one semester in the program, Northern said he’s already covered new ground in project assessment, development feasibility, risk assessment and asset valuation.
“These topics require advanced skillsets, evaluation, collaboration, and more, among cross-functional teams for any real estate project,” said Northern, also Senior Vice President of the Public Housing Authorities Directors of Association. “I will be sure to combine previous experience and knowledge with my new skills to produce some of the best-executed and developed housing projects for years to come.”
Northern entered the program from an administrators’ point of view, rather than of a developer or contractor.
“By being a housing authority administrator, we are investing and transforming communities in which we live, work and play,” said Northern, who earned an undergraduate in accounting from Ball State University and Master of Public Administration from Indiana University-Northwest.
“Much of our work runs parallel with what private contracting or real estate does anyway. With much overlap between both entities, why would housing authorities not become more engaged within these types of academic programs that absolutely advance the way housing authorities and communities will look tomorrow, and every day after? I hope to influence the system and other administrators like myself to seek opportunities for growth by enrolling into Master of Real Estate Development programs, such as what Auburn offers.”
The Master of Real Estate Development program at Auburn University, managed jointly by the Harbert College of Business and College of Architecture, Design and Construction, offers executive students the opportunity online to sharpen their skills in finance, architecture, planning, construction, law, and market analysis.
Admittedly an Auburn fan, Northern was wooed to the program at the recommendation of alumnus Damon Duncan, President and CEO at the Montgomery Housing Authority, and the program’s reputation.
“As I researched other programs such as MIT, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins, none of them really had a cohort-based model with field studies built into the curriculum that provides a deeper dive into the industry with historical context,” Northern said. “Auburn provides the method of delivery that best fits my continued education preference by providing the MRED program as a hybrid model versus being 100 percent traditional or 100 percent online. It offers the best of both worlds by marrying the two.”