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The international business leader and philanthropist Rajen Kilachand, who earned a master’s in business administration at BU, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters at the University’s 2014 Commencement on Sunday, May 18.
A native of Gujarat, India, Kilachand (GSM’74) has been chair of the multinational Dodsal Group since 1982, when he stepped into the leadership role of his late father. Since then, the Dubai-based energy and infrastructure development company, owned outright by the Kilachand family since 1995, has expanded to become a world leader in mining, construction, manufacturing, and trading. It also operates a chain of Pizza Hut restaurants across the Indian subcontinent.
As a philanthropist, Kilachand has had an equally broad and influential sweep, including gifts to Boston University totaling $35 million, among the largest in University history. The gifts endowed the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College and Professorship, named in honor of his parents, as well as the establishment of Kilachand Hall, home of the Honors College and a residence hall for Honors College students and others. Kilachand is a member of the BU Board of Trustees.
Kilachand is a longtime devotee and supporter of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and his love of the arts has also led to generous sponsorship of community theaters, arts and cultural festivals, and Gujarat’s annual kite festival, which he hosts in honor of his family’s love of the sport. He also supports AIDS awareness programs in Africa and Papua New Guinea, as well as initiatives in health care, vocational training, education, libraries, and teacher training. He is a major donor to the international children’s charity Dubai Cares, an initiative of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.
Kilachand has said he believes that it is the karmic obligation of a human soul to participate morally and ethically on the path of duty that brings wellness to humanity.
“I am deeply grateful to Rajen Kilachand for his vision and his commitment to our Honors College, which serves our highest achieving students,” BU President Robert A. Brown said in announcing the Honors College gift in fall 2011. “His magnificent gift will create an endowment for the Kilachand Honors College that will increase the quality of this innovative program and the range of opportunities it offers for all future generations of Boston University students.”
According to family history, Kilachand’s great-grandfather started a cotton exporting business in Bombay in the 1880s. Among his customers was the Lawrence family, prominent New England industrialists who built the textile mills of Lawrence, Mass., and—coincidentally—the Gothic Revival mansion now known as Sloane House, which is the home of Brown and his wife, Beverly.
When he gave his initial gift to BU in 2011, Kilachand said that when he first came to BU, he was struck by the “tremendous philanthropy” of those who built this country. “Whether it was the Mellons, the Carnegies, or the Rockefellers, it was giving for education,” he said. “That’s why today the United States is one of the great centers of higher learning. It is second to none in the world.”
More information about Commencement can be found on the Commencement website.