The University of Washington (UW) has a commercial real estate undergraduate program, but students who want to learn more about residential real estate had no options. Fittingly, as UW was planning to add some residential classes, it received an unexpected windfall — $5.4 million from Windermere founder John Jacobi and his wife, Rosalind.

  • Windermere founder John Jacobi and his wife, Rosalind, have donated $5.4 million to help fund a real estate minor degree at the University of Washington.
  • Windermere president Jill Jacobi Wood said this minor degree is the first step toward an eventual residential real estate master's program.

The University of Washington (UW) has a commercial real estate undergraduate program, but students who want to learn more about residential real estate had no options.

John Jacobi

John Jacobi

Fittingly, as UW was planning to add some residential classes, it received an unexpected windfall — $5.4 million from Windermere founder John Jacobi and his wife, Rosalind.

“The university was beyond excited,” said Jill Jacobi Wood, John’s daughter and Windermere president. “They’d already started down the path of developing some residential classes, but with this money, they were able to do a residential minor degree.”

Jacobi Wood said that both her father and his wife attended UW, as did their children, and John Jacobi had been looking for ways to give back to his alma mater for a while. This was a perfect fit.

And it’s just the beginning, said Jacobi Wood.

“Our goal is to have a master’s in residential real estate,” she explained. “In our company, we have what we call ‘crawl-walk-run.’ We have to crawl so that we hire the right people, get the right classes and the right enthusiasm for the program.” But a graduate-level degree is the end goal.

According to a press release sent about the donation and the degree plans, “the new minor in real estate will be officially offered in fall 2017 with courses starting in January 2017. This minor will be made available to all undergraduate students pursuing any UW major.”

The $5.4 million will also support two new endowed faculty chairs at UW’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, the Windermere Endowed Chair for Real Estate and the John and Rosalind Jacobi Family Endowed Chair for Real Estate. A portion of the funds will also create the Windermere Endowed Real Estate Support Fund in order to ensure the ongoing support of the residential real estate minor program.

“When my dad started in 1972, his full vision was to make the real estate industry looked upon as a profession,” said Jacobi Wood. “He feels like this will help elevate it.

“I think we can get people who become interested in real estate at an early age, which is awesome,” she added.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that John and Roz have directed their philanthropy to the College of Built Environments. This minor will help the UW continue to provide a flexible education and skill set for students that will be responsive to our region’s increasing needs,” said College of Built Environments Dean John Schaufelberger in a statement. “The Jacobis’ generosity gives us a proof point that real estate as a profession has the gravitas to one day possibly warrant a full-fledged real estate department within the College of Built Environments.”

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