I attended the University of Illinois from 1977-1981 and was involved with Rho Epsilon most of that time after transferring from the School of Architecture into a more general curriculum. As a student in the Individual Plans of Studies program that was in existence at that time, I am perhaps the only U. of I. student to ever have a major in Real Estate. With Professor Cannaday as my faculty adviser during those years, Rho Epsilon was a natural part of my "program". I was President of Rho Epsilon in Fall 1980 and Spring 1981 and part of my job was, as it still is today for the President, arranging speakers to visit us as well as plan and arrange our semester field trips to Chicago for the practical side of our education in real estate. As with many before and since me, one of those field trips led to my first job after graduation.
At the time, I was fortunate to have gained real world experience in commercial real estate and was introduced to the world of commercial mortgage banking as a result. I decided that most college students studying real estate at the time did not know what a mortgage banker was and that it would be a good addition to the usual field trip visits to appraisers and developers, etc. So, using my contacts I arranged a field trip to visit The Abacus Group in downtown Chicago which, at the time, was the largest commercial mortgage banking company in the country. That field trip led to a summer internship. Although my ultimate goal was to work in real estate development, I had the unfortunate timing of entering the work force in September of 1981, one of the worst times in history with the prime interest rate just over 20%. Developers were scaling back and in many instances shutting down. Hard as I tried, there were no entry level jobs to be had and staying in school was not an option for me. Luckily, thanks to my position with Rho Epsilon, I landed a job at The Abacus Group with the thought that I would stay a few years. I spent the next 15 years in commercial mortgage banking culminating with starting my own company in 1994. I will always be grateful for the experience I got, and the education I received in the "real world", as a result of my involvement with and Presidency of Rho Epsilon. I have gone back to the U of I to speak to several Rho Epsilon groups since my graduation and I will continue to give back what I can for as long as they will have me. I owe a lot to Professor Cannaday and Rho Epsilon. Ross A. Berman President Rho Epsilon Fall 1980 and Spring 1981 September 9, 2012