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Villanova School of Business Students Win First Place in Real Estate Competition

VSB real estate competition winners

VILLANOVA, Pa. - Six Villanova School of Business (VSB) students won the top prize at the 5th Annual Cornell Real Estate Challenge. VSB seniors Michael O’Neill, Rachael Paolino, Sean Bryce, Catherine Millane, Jack Herrill and Lauren Nygren comprised the winning team and won a $10,000 cash prize.

Teams participating in the Cornell Real estate Challenge analyze and make recommendations on a real world real estate transaction.  Each team of six undergraduate students from the top real estate programs around the world had just five days to prepare their analysis, determine a recommendation, prepare a presentation and travel to NYC.  The teams were judged not only on their investment recommendations, their approach to the problem, and their presentation skills, but also on their ability to answer and respond to direct and probing questions posed by the judges.  Of the fourteen teams that participated this year, the top five teams advanced to finals where the top three teams had the opportunity to present to a full panel of industry judges, faculty advisors, fellow competitors and spectators. 

“The Villanova Team, Black Boulder Capital Partners, were unbelievable in their tenacity, preparedness and execution of their answer to the case,” said Anthony Ziccardi, Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate Fellow and VP of Development at Brandywine Realty Trust. “They were a joy to coach.” 

The impressive VSB team outperformed other finalists including Wisconsin, NYU Stern, Cornell and Wharton.

Shawn Howton, faculty director of the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, said, “The effort the students put into the competition was incredible.  Beating such storied real estate programs as Wisconsin and Cornell shows VSB and the DiLella Center are on the national radar in the area of undergraduate real estate education.”

The Villanova School of Business (VSB) is ranked #15 in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek and has been at the forefront of business education since it was founded in 1922. Serving over 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students, VSB is home to six Centers of Excellence (Center for Business Analytics, Center for Global Leadership, Center for Marketing & Public Policy Research, Center for the Study of Church Management, the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, and the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Center) with each center designed to foster innovative, cross-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities for business faculty. VSB is known for academic rigor; creativity and innovation; hands-on and service learning opportunities; a firm grounding in ethics; and an applied education that prepares students to become outstanding leaders and global citizens within the ever-changing, complex, and fast-paced world of business. For more, visit

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.