One of the most important aspects of the commercial real estate industry is its future. Especially following – and still navigating through – such unpredictable times on a global scale, the significance of experienced, knowledgeable, and professional appraisers and CRE specialists will help to make all the difference when it comes to the total recovery and the proper marketing, sale, management, and longevity of commercial properties across all industries and geographies.

The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and the CRE industry has prompted CRE companies to make changes they’ve never done before (e.g., digitizing operations, closing physical facilities due to extensive lockdowns, and then reopening while ensuring the health and safety of employees and occupiers and considering the financial health of tenants and end-users) while also helping their clients navigate those same decisions and changes. Continuing to ensure that the CRE industry and all its cohorts thrive and remain successful will depend partially on the future appraisers and AI professionals of the industry and that’s something that Valbridge supports wholeheartedly.

The University Relations Committee

Valbridge is pleased to announce the Appraisal Institute’s creation of the University Relations Committee (URC) – which is being Chaired by Ryan L. Zink, MAI, from Valbridge Property Advisors | Tampa– to connect undergraduate students with professionals in the CRE field. URC’s primary purpose is to create and foster relationships between Appraisal Institute leaders and various colleges and universities across the country, thus setting the future of the industry up with critical connections prior to ever even graduating.

The URC will not only focus on the larger universities with real estate degree programs but also market to smaller school and community colleges, in addition to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The URC is enthusiastic about recruiting a diverse cadre of Ambassadors to help attract the next generation of appraisers and AI professionals in an effort to keep the industry robust and flourishing.

URC Ambassador Program

The idea behind the URC is that the program will assign an Appraisal Institute Ambassador to each university so that the school is able to develop a close-working and formal relationship with that industry professional. The Appraisal Institute Ambassadors will be the primary conduit to convey the Appraisal Institute’s efforts to appropriate staff and students at the university so that the university population will be able to play a role in the AI’s ongoing efforts.

The roles and responsibilities of the Ambassadors will include but are not limited to, activities such as:

  • Promotion of Appraisal Institute materials in the classroom
  • Informing students and university staff of job opportunities within AI member companies (including both internship and full-time positions)
  • Helping to recruit Appraisal Institute guest speakers
  • Attending university job fairs
  • Providing information on Appraisal Institute Student Affiliate membership opportunities
  • Providing information on Appraisal Institute scholarship opportunities
  • Assisting with The Appraisal Foundation (Appraisal Qualification Board) approval of real estate degree programs
  • Assisting with state certification issues for real estate students
  • Promoting greater awareness of the AI Master Degree Program so that students are equipped with the best possible education and opportunity profile

We at Valbridge believe that this is an unparalleled opportunity not only for the students and universities but also for our organization, as it continues to help strengthen our presence in the real estate student market and promote the Valbridge Property Advisors brand. We understand how important it is to prepare the future of the CRE industry and we know that that starts with educating the future AI professionals of the nation.

The URC will be developing and supporting these initiatives with professionally prepared marketing materials and AI staff support. We believe it’s important to note that URC Ambassadors will not be responsible for developing any of the above-noted items, only to convey these different initiatives to the appropriate staff at the university and to provide local support where needed. We realize many of these university relationships already exist.

An ideal Ambassador could be any AI member who is also a college professor, university alumni, has connections at a university, is interested in teaching at the university level, or someone who just wants to get involved to make a difference. For more information on becoming an Appraisal Institute Ambassador, please email Ryan L. Zink, MAI, at