Sexual Harassment Claims Run Counter to CBRE Culture

I am writing in response to the article that appeared in the November 2004 issue titled “CB Richard Ellis Denies Sexual Harassment Claims.” I am concerned that anyone reading this article will be left with a distorted view of our company, which is at the forefront of providing women with a positive work environment and opportunities for growth.

Your readers should know that CB Richard Ellis is leading our industry in terms of supporting women in real estate. As evidence, the company was recently recognized by Commercial Real Estate Women as its “Organization of the Year” for 2004 for our efforts to foster a positive environment for our female employees.

The company's commitment to female employees is longstanding. Over four years ago — well before the lawsuit you mentioned was filed — we established the Women's Network to foster an environment where women and men share equal opportunities to succeed. While the article mentions the Women's Network, it also should be pointed out that since its inception in 2000, it has proven to be an excellent vehicle for women professionals at CB Richard Ellis to network, mentor, recruit and develop professionally.

My hope is that your readers will be able to see the real CB Richard Ellis and understand that the allegations in the pending litigation are certainly not representative of my experience — or the experience of thousands of women — at the company.

Lisa A. Konieczka
Senior Vice President
CB Richard Ellis Inc.

Editor's Note: NREI has made every attempt to be fair and balanced in its coverage of the sexual harassment claims. Ultimately, the court will determine whether the case has merit.

USC's Real Estate Program Isn't Merely a Think Tank

I would like to respond to a recent Letter to the Editor written by Mr. Thomas Lucier [president and CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Home Equities] regarding graduate-level real estate programs, namely that “99% of all the professors teaching real estate investment… have never been a principal in any type of commercial real estate transaction.” While it may hold true for most programs that Mr. Lucier is familiar with, such a characterization of the University of Southern California's Master of Real Estate Development program could not be further from the truth.

USC's MRED program provides its students with instruction that offers a balance between academic faculty and industry practitioners. Our view, which we implement in our comprehensive curriculum, is that such a blend produces highly-skilled and thoughtful graduates who are able to quickly provide significant value to their employers. Mr. Lucier asserts that courses taught exclusively by faculty lack “real world, hands-on experience,” but this fails to acknowledge that all of our faculty augment their theoretical and technical instruction with such experiences provided in person by leaders in the industry.

Moreover, we believe that an educational program that only features real estate investment professionals robs students of exposure to leading-edge real estate research, which often promotes important innovations in the industry. In fact, we encourage our practitioner-instructors to inject theory into their courses where appropriate precisely because of our belief that this is a vital aspect to any serious academic program.

I would encourage Mr. Lucier and all of your readers to review our real estate program at www.usc.edu/sppd/mred. I trust that this will allay any concerns that students coming out of graduate-degree real estate programs — at least the one offered by USC — are ill-prepared to handle the demands of being a real estate industry executive.

Professor Raphael W. Bostic
Director, Master of Real Estate Development
University of Southern California
Los Angeles

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