Possibly the most exciting news to come out of the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industries' (NIC) Ninth Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., was the announcement of the Johns Hopkins University/NIC Seniors Housing & Care Program, the first graduate program to focus on the business of seniors housing. This collection of courses, which will begin next fall and will be affiliated with the university's Real Estate Institute, will be available as a specialty area to the school's M.B.A. students. The program can also apply to a master's of science in real estate or to an executive graduate certificate.

"We think [this program] is going to make a significant contribution to the industry over the long term," says Robert G. Kramer, executive director of NIC.

Glenn R. Mueller, who was managing director of real estate research at Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. in Baltimore, has joined Johns Hopkins' School of Professional Studies in Business and Education and will head the new program. Mueller, a 23-year veteran of the real estate industry, has a Ph.D. in real estate from Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Courses will include such topics as management and marketing, finance and investment, development, and quality of care, among others. The program will also produce an annual case study on the seniors-housing and care sector and one or more applied-research projects per year.

NIC and numerous industry organizations are providing the funding for the program. Those companies include American Retirement Corp., Capital Senior Living Corp., EdenCare, Formation Capital, GMAC Commercial Mortgage, Greystone Communities, Heller Financial, Key Healthcare Finance, Marriott Senior Living Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Prudential Real Estate Investors, Retirement Housing Foundation and Senior Campus Living.

Over the years, Johns Hopkins has fostered a first-class reputation. Therefore, the industry should have a lot of confidence in the quality of the master's program. With the baby-boomer generation aging, many challenges await the seniors-housing industry. This program should provide an effective way to prepare future industry members to successfully tackle the issues that arise.