The College of Environmental Design is honored to announce that it has received the largest gift in the college’s history from Nancy R. Abbey and Douglas D. Abbey. The historic donation provides endowed support for the College’s Master of Real Estate Development + Design Program, which has now been renamed as The Nancy and Douglas Abbey Master of Real Estate Development + Design Program. The $7.5 million gift was acknowledged on December 15, 2020 when UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Carol Christ formally thanked the Abbeys in a virtual celebration along with the college’s leadership and friends of the MRED+D program.
The Abbey gift will enable the College to more rapidly develop and expand the young program, founded in 2018 and currently educating its third cohort of students. The program will continue to push the boundaries of sustainable urbanism and will uphold its stature as one of the best stand-alone real estate development programs in the nation.
While it is common for the naming of a building or college to accompany a philanthropic gift, only a handful of programs have been named in UC Berkeley’s history, making the gift even more unique and impactful.
With their pledge, the Abbeys have committed themselves to the education of future generations of real estate professionals — whose choices, from finance to policy, will shape the future of cities. Of particular importance to both the Abbeys and the program’s founding mission is to prepare students with the tools to address urban sustainability, equity, and resilience. Most important, the Abbey MRED+D Program will continue to educate professionals with expertise in real estate finance, an attribute critical to successful projects from affordable housing to commercial real estate.
Both Nancy and Doug are graduates of UC Berkeley — Nancy is an alumna of the Haas School of Business’ M.B.A program, and Doug is an alumnus of CED’s Master of City and Regional Planning program.
The Abbeys’ dual background, with Doug having crafted his own real estate development program by taking courses across campus, embodies the scope of the MRED+D program. Furthermore, MRED+D supports the real estate industry by advancing CED’s long standing focus on equity and social infrastructure as students learn the fundamentals of finance, economics, market analysis, development law, and more.
The Abbeys’ motivation to provide this support comes from a deep personal commitment to real estate education and the careers of those who will guide the future of our built environment. Doug Abbey observes, “As a student, I combined my planning studies with courses in law and business. Today’s MRED+D program accomplishes what I had to piece together and this pleases me greatly.” Abbey has provided guest lectures and mentored UC Berkeley MRED+D students. “I have gotten to know the MRED+D students, which has been a joy for me personally, and I am deeply impressed by their talents and drive. Nancy and I want to enrich their careers and give back to UC Berkeley and the Bay Area. We are thrilled to accomplish that with our support.”
“This historic gift from Douglas and Nancy Abbey ensures that CED can continue to educate future leaders in building equitable, resilient, and socially responsible communities,” added Vishaan Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Environmental Design. “The Abbeys have dedicated their careers and lives to these values, and we are dedicated to upholding those values as we grow this program in their name.”
Nancy Abbey holds a B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill and an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Nancy serves on the Board of the Nantucket Historic Association and on the Advisory Board of Nest, a non-profit organization building a new handworker economy to increase global workforce inclusivity, improve women’s wellbeing, and preserve important cultural traditions around the world. Nancy has served as a board member at the Grabhorn Institute, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and perpetuate the use of integrated type foundry, bookbinding, and letterpress printing.
Doug Abbey holds a B.A. from Amherst College and a Master’s in City Planning (M.C.P.) from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. He is the Chairman of Swift Real Estate Partners, which he joined in 2012. Prior to Swift, Douglas co-founded two investment management organizations: AMB Property Corporation (merged with Prologis: NYSE) in 1983, now the largest global industrial REIT; and IHP Capital Partners, formed in 1992, a provider of equity to the single-family homebuilding industry.
Doug is also a trustee and past vice chairman of the Urban Land Institute and serves as chair of the ULI Foundation and on the board of the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing. Similarly, he serves on the board of BRIDGE Housing, the leading non-profit affordable housing developer on the West Coast with more than 13,000 units under management, founded by I. Donald Terner, for whom the campus’s Terner Center is named. As a former mentee of Don Terner, Doug stewarded the creation of the Terner Prize, a multi-year program that recognizes outstanding affordable housing projects across the country.
Together, Doug and Nancy belong to Builders of Berkeley, Cal’s program to recognize donors who have made gifts during their lifetimes in excess of $1M.