Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

What did you do during your summer vacation? For students, it’s a question asked when they go back to school in the fall. It may include internships or project work as well as some fun in the sun. But what are our faculty doing during the summer break?

Wisconsin real estate faculty and staff spend some of their time at the Graaskamp Center doing the usual things they do during the school year—maintaining the website (including this blog!), tracking budgets, freshening up teaching materials and working on research. But summer is also a time to undertake some special activities that they may not have time for during the tightly scheduled fall and spring semesters.

Today we start a series in which we’ll talk to faculty members about what they are doing during their summer “vacation.” Graaskamp Center Academic Director Stephen Malpezzi just returned from two weeks in Europe, first in St. Andrews, Scotland, then in Istanbul. Steve talked about the trip with Kris Hammargren, Senior Associate Director at the Graaskamp Center.

Kris Hammargren: So you were in St. Andrews for the last week of June. Were you trying to qualify for the British Open?

Stephen Malpezzi: No, I haven’t played golf for 20 years, and that’s good for the game! St. Andrews has a dozen beautiful courses in addition to the famous old course, and I do my part by keeping them open for real golfers.

KH: OK, why were you there really?

SM: I was invited to visit the University of St. Andrews by my friend Duncan Maclennan, one of Europe’s leading housing economists. We’ve worked together off and on for the better part of three decades. [See "The Price Elasticity of Supply of New Residential Construction in the United States and the United Kingdom (with Duncan Maclennan)." Journal of Housing Economics, 10 (3), September 2001, pp. 278-306.]

KH: So what specifically does a week in St. Andrews entail?

SM: The mix is a little different each time. I made a presentation to the faculty of the Centre for Housing Research to bring them up to speed on the latest developments in U.S. housing and financial markets, including the foreclosure problem. Then, I sat down with some of the Centre’s faculty and gave them comments on some of their research, such as some new work on spatial patterns of Spanish house prices by Arnab Bhattacharjee undertaken with his colleagues Eduardo Anselmo de Castro and João Lourenço Marques. Duncan and I followed up on our participation in last year’s conference on U.K. housing policy (Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) conference at St George's House in Windsor Castle and chaired by Lord Richard Best); in particular we sketched out a cooperative study of European housing supply that we think can help inform the debate on the reform of planning systems. I also had some time to program the data analysis for a new paper on U.S. housing prices I’m writing with one of the top graduates of our PhD program Yongping Liang.

KH: Sounds like you were busy!

SM: Yes, but I make time for some walks around St. Andrews too—it’s Scotland’s first university, founded in 1413, and in a beautiful town. I visited Duncan’s family in the small town of St. Monans, watched a little World Cup and enjoyed some fine local seafood. Then it was off to Istanbul.

KH: Thanks, Steve. As you can see, our faculty are busy with a number of projects this summer. We’ll talk to Steve again about his visit to Istanbul, plus some of the summer activities of other faculty members, in forthcoming posts.

Photo by Stu Smith via Flickr

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