Academic Panel Will Provide Insights to CRE Outlook and Emerging Trends at ACREcom19

The afternoon session of the 19th Annual Alabama Commercial Real Estate Conference & Expo (ACREcom) will feature a first of its kind, academic roundtable with the leading thought leaders from universities across Alabama on February 8, 2019, at The Club in Birmingham. This year’s “Glass Breakers” theme focuses on transformation and how the old models have been shattered. As such, the roundtable topics will include insights on the CRE outlook (including special niches), emerging trends, and workforce development through the lens of both employer and student.

Dr. Alan Tidwell, associate professor of finance, and the Alabama Association of Realtors® Chair of Real Estate at The University of Alabama will moderate the discussion. He joined the Culverhouse College of Business faculty in 2017. Previously he was an Associate Professor of Finance, and the Violet Litchfield and Thomas Bryant Buck, Jr. Chair in Real Estate at Columbus State University.

He has published in Real Estate EconomicsJournal of Real Estate Finance and EconomicsJournal of Real Estate ResearchApplied EconomicsJournal of Housing ResearchJournal of Property ResearchJournal of Forest EconomicsJournal of Sustainable Real Estate, and Real Estate Issues. Dr. Tidwell has won awards for “top papers” in the CoStar, Multifamily, and industrial categories, respectively, through the American Real Estate Society. He is also on the editorial boards of the Appraisal Journal, and the Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education.

He has substantial industry experience in commercial real estate valuation and banking. He also holds the Certified Financial Planner professional designation. Dr. Tidwell is a committed educator, and has had the opportunity to teach courses spanning the disciplines of real estate, finance, risk management, and quantitative analysis. His instruction, animated by solidarity, kindness, and respect, has been well received as he was recognized for teaching excellence at both Columbus State University and Georgia State University. Some of his past and/or current teaching responsibilities include real estate finance, principles of real estate, investments, managerial finance, financial statement analysis, risk management and insurance, financial reporting and analysis, quantitative analysis for business, real estate investments, and residential real estate appraisal. Dr. Tidwell holds a Ph.D. in Real Estate from Georgia State University, an MBA from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and a Bachelor’s degree from Auburn University.

Panelists are Dr. Justin Benefield, Dr. Lary Cowart, and Dr. Reid Cummings.

Dr. Justin Benefield is an associate professor at Auburn University. He joined the Department of Finance faculty in Fall 2012. His primary research interests include residential real estate brokerage, sustainable real estate, and real estate investment trusts.

He has published over 25 articles in some of the leading journals in real estate and finance, including the Journal of Real Estate Economics and Finance, the Journal of Real Estate Research, the Journal of Housing Research, the Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management, the Journal of Real Estate Literature, the Journal of Real Estate Practice and EducationThe Appraisal Journal, the Financial Services Review, the Review of Financial Economics, and the Journal of Financial Economic Policy. In addition, his work has been presented at a wide variety of regional, national, and international academic meetings.

Dr. Benefield has taught numerous finance and real estate courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He is a past recipient of several teaching and research awards, including a 2014 American Real Estate Society Practitioner Research Award, the 2014 Harbert College of Business Outstanding Research Award, the 2010 American Real Estate Society Red Pen Award for the Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education, the 2003-2004 University of Alabama Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student, and the 2003 American Real Estate Society Best Conference Paper Award in the Real Estate Brokerage category. Dr. Benefield is a very active member of the American Real Estate Society, and he is currently serving as Editor for that organization’s Journal of Housing Research. Dr. Benefield received his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Alabama in 2006. Prior to joining Auburn’s faculty, he taught at the University of Alabama for one year and the College of Charleston for six years.

Dr. Lary Cowart is an assistant professor of real estate & finance in the Department of Accounting and Finance at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  He earned his Ph.D. in real estate from the University of Georgia after receiving an MBA from Samford University and his Bachelor’s degree from Athens College. His primary research and teaching interests are real estate and business valuation, and real estate asset management problems.

Dr. Cowart is an Accredited Senior Appraiser member of the American Society of Appraisers and a state certified General Real Estate Appraiser with extensive real estate consulting and appraising experience. He has published articles in Real Estate IssuesThe Appraisal JournalReal Estate ReviewThe Journal of Contemporary Business IssuesJournal of Corporate Real Estate and The Real Estate Finance Journal.

Dr. Reid Cummings is the director of the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development at the University of South Alabama. He has over 36 years of experience in real estate development, leasing, management, brokerage, financial consulting, mortgage lending, and construction services.

As a long-time member, director, and executive leader of the Mobile Area Association of Realtors, he served as its President in 2000 and won its 2001 Realtor of the Year Award. From 1999- 2011, he served as a Member of the City of Mobile Board of Zoning Adjustment, and was Chairman from 2003-2011. In 2011, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley appointed Dr. Cummings to the 1st Congressional District Seat on the Alabama Real Estate Commission, reappointing him to a second term in 2016. Also in 2016, Governor Bentley appointed Dr. Cummings to the Advisory Board of the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research based at the University of Alabama. In 2016, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson appointed Dr. Cummings to the Board of Commissioners of the Mobile Housing Authority.

Dr. Cummings has authored/co-authored publications appearing in The Journal of Real Estate Finance and EconomicsApplied Economics LettersAsian Journal of FinanceReal Estate FinanceThe Appraisal JournalTourism Economics, and The Southern Business and Economic Journal. He has served the American Real Estate Society in numerous capacities, including membership on the Board of Directors since 2016, Chairman of the Practitioner’s Research Award Committee from 2013-2016, Vice Chairman of the Research Committee from 2012-2016, President of the Future Leaders of the American Real Estate Society from 2015-2016, and Case Study Editor for the Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education since 2015. His current research interests include agency, brokerage, and housing markets, geo-spatial relationships, real estate development, economic development and impact analysis, and Monte Carlo simulation and scenario analysis.

Registration is open for ACREcom 2019 on the website at The morning and afternoon sessions have each been approved for three hours of CE credit (for a total of six hours) by the Alabama Real Estate Commission. Additionally, ACREcom has been approved for six hours of CPE, including one hour of behavioral CPE and five hours of business-related CPE by the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy. For registration assistance or information about group rates and corporate table, contact Kayla Crittenden at 205.348.4117 or

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