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Just as the local real estate market seems finally to be edging toward an upswing, John A. Viteritti, the real estate professor who has taught virtually every agent on the East End at one time or another over nearly a decade, now finds himself without a classroom at the campus that has been his base of operations for the past nine years.
The veteran Long Island University teacher recently found out that three of his primary classes had to be cancelled because his employer no longer has a lease at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.
Instead of renewing the lease with Stony Brook University, which ran out in July, administrators at LIU signed a new lease with Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead. At the same time, LIU pulled the program for licensing, remedial and broker’s courses that Mr. Viteritti, a Southold resident, has taught for the past nine years.
“It’s a great loss to me personally,” he said during an interview last month in the empty classroom where he used to teach at Stony Brook Southampton. “Over the past nine years I’ve formed relationships with my students, and one of the most motivating factors to me is when people take the initial licensing course, then they come back for the broker’s course, and then return for the continuing education course.”
Although university officials said that Mr. Viteritti will continue to teach a full course load, there is no room in the curriculum for Long Island University to teach basic real estate licensing courses at Suffolk Community College because the school already offers those classes, and LIU—as a lessee on the campus—is not permitted to offer coursework that conflicts with Suffolk’s existing schedule.
According to LIU Associate Dean Jean Conroy, university officials decided to move the lease to the Suffolk Community College campus in Riverhead to make the university more accessible to a larger percentage of would-be real estate agents and agents who need to take continuing education courses.
“The Riverhead campus is more centrally located for students that live on the North Fork and the South Fork, and west,” Ms. Conroy said recently. “So this is actually a more convenient site for students to take classes.”
The last Long Island University real estate licensing class was completed at the Stony Brook Southampton campus in July. From now on, the university will be offering only continuing education classes in real estate at the Suffolk County Community College campus in Riverhead.
Ms. Conroy noted that Mr. Viteritti’s talents would still be utilized in Riverhead, even if he can’t teach the licensing, remedial and broker’s courses.
“John is well respected, and we’re lucky to have him,” Ms. Conroy said. “He has his own website, and people in the real estate field seek him out for guidance ... Prior students, real estate salespeople and brokers all e-mail him for advice, and he’s teaching a full schedule of courses for us this fall.”
Mr. Viteritti said the new arrangement with Suffolk Community College leaves students from farther out on the East End without accessible classroom instruction in basic real estate licensing, leaving online courses as their only option. He added that unless Stony Brook Southampton administrators decide to offer those real estate classes, there would be a real absence of classroom education and experience in real estate on the East End.
“I am very sad about this,” he said, “I have critiqued the 75 hours online licensing course for New York University ... And it is no substitute for the classroom experience.”
Mr. Viteritti said he has sent letters to Stony Brook officials asking them to create classes for real estate licensing, remedial and broker’s courses at the college.
In response, Dr. Mary Pearl, who recently stepped in as dean and administrative vice president at Stony Brook Southampton, said that university officials are currently looking at a variety of options to fill classroom spaces and are swamped with course study choices. She noted that among those possibilities is a new marine science laboratory, but could not say specifically if real estate courses would eventually be a part of the new curriculum at the Southampton campus.
“I would definitely be open to meeting Mr. Viteritti and I’m sure that he had popular classes,” Dr. Pearl said during a telephone interview last month. “But I have to go through a formal, strategic planning process and consult people as we try to decide what the best use of our campus is to serve the community.”
Mr. Viteritti is a former director of operations with the New York State Mortgage Loan and Code Enforcement administration. After retiring from that position in 1995, he decided to get his real estate broker’s license and establish his own brokerage firm.
After landing a job at Century 21, Mr. Viteritti honed his skills in running a brokerage first before setting his sights on purchasing a brokerage business. The deal fell through because the owner got cold feet, so Mr. Viteritti turned his attention to becoming a teacher. He quickly became a favored professor and was asked to take on more and more classes and responsibilities.
“Soon, I was not only involved in teaching the courses, but in writing the courses,” Mr. Viteritti said of his career as a real estate educator.
But for now, the classroom veteran said that he’s concerned about the lack of educational opportunities offered on the South Fork for those that want to get into real estate.
Mr. Viteritti said that he has enjoyed teaching at Stony Brook Southampton immensely and hopes that “something can be worked out so I can continue.”
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