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Office of Trusts, Estates, and Gift Planning
Cornell University
130 E Seneca Street, Suite 400
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 1-800-481-1865
Fax: 607-254-1204


Smart Thinking:
The Abbes Help Cornell Look to the Future

donor_17.pngAdvancing research to improve global health and nutrition. Analyzing policy outcomes on family and social welfare, health, and consumer behavior. Teaming up with scientists at Weill Cornell to treat and find cures for infectious diseases. Preparing students to become leaders in the burgeoning new field of law and neuroscience. The College of Human Ecology is pressing forward in its efforts to address critical societal issues and emerging opportunities.

After Kären Dean Abbe HE ’65 met with Human Ecology Dean Lisa Staiano-Coico and heard more about the college’s goals, she was inspired to make a lasting difference. Kären and her husband, Charles “Jay” Abbe ’63, MS ’65, recently advised Cornell of their plans to award the university a bequest that provides unrestricted support for the College of Human Ecology. Their bequest also includes a significant gift to underwrite one of Jay’s favorite college activities: rowing.

“As Jay and I learned more about how bequests work, we realized we could support Cornell at a higher level than we might otherwise have considered,” Kären says. “After talking with Cornell’s gift planning office and meeting with our financial advisors, we developed a plan that will allow us to provide a level of security for our children and make a significant impact through charitable giving.”

Bequests have been important to Cornell since its founding. They continue to account for a major portion of the university’s endowment and funding that sustains Cornell’s programs and facilities.

“What we didn’t realize is that you can structure bequests
so that you maximize the value of your assets both for your
heirs and for the charitable organizations you care about.”
—Jay Abbe

Chip Bryce, Cornell’s director of gift planning, explains: “The term ‘bequest’ usually refers to a statement in your written will of your wishes to provide charitable funding after your death. It is also common, however, to provide similar charitable designations through a retirement plan or IRA, life insurance, revocable and irrevocable trusts—even government savings bonds. By allocating your assets wisely you can preserve their value in ways that make sense for you and your heirs.”

Now Sonoma County, California, vintners and active volunteer leaders, the Abbes immersed themselves in their professions as well as family life. Jay retired as president and chief operating officer of JDS Uniphase Corporation, a telecommunications fiber optic equipment maker.

Kären followed a career in nursing in which she worked with patients in intensive and emergency care and served on a flying critical care ambulance. As a volunteer, she has worked with Planned Parenthood; Interplast, a humanitarian organization that provides free reconstructive surgery for children in underserved regions; and Roots for Peace, a group that raises funds to remove landmines from farms and vineyards in Croatia.

The Abbes were named foremost benefactors in 2004. Jay is a member of the CU Council and Cornell Silicon Valley. They also named the Charles J. Abbe Cornell Rowing Training Facility and have generously supported the Cornell Annual Fund.

“We are both absolutely delighted that we can support Cornell at this level,” Kären says.