$25 Million Gift Largest in BU History
Alum and trustee Kilachand’s pledge renames Honors College| From Commonwealth | By Art Jahnke. Video by Devin Hahn
In the video above Rajen Kilachand (GSM’74), who gave the naming gift for the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College, talks about his belief that the college will produce Renaissance people, “true leaders of the world of tomorrow,” and his gratitude for what he learned at BU, and college director Charles Dellheim talks about the college’s purpose and the gift’s importance.
Rajen Kilachand, a Dubai-based global entrepreneur, has pledged $25 million to support the Honors College, whose full name becomes the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College in honor of his parents. Kilachand (GSM’74) is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
Kilachand is chair and president of the Dodsal Group, a multinational conglomerate that holds interests in engineering, mining, trading, and hospitality businesses. He is also a committed philanthropist, whose social initiatives span a spectrum—from music and art festivals to community theaters and AIDS awareness programs.
Boston University President Robert A. Brown says Kilachand is a person of extraordinary foresight and rare generosity. “I am deeply grateful to Rajen Kilachand for his vision and his commitment to our Honors College, which serves our highest achieving students,” says Brown. “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. Equally as important as his gift, which is the largest in the history of the University, is his insightful understanding of the enduring importance of undergraduate education, both to him and to the University.”
Kilachand says 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 says. “That’s why today the United States is one of the great centers of higher learning.”
Over the years, Kilachand has made a personal commitment of more than $50 million to philanthropic initiatives in health care and vocational training and education, including building libraries and teacher training institutions. “Education is the key driver of how we handle the future,” he says. “I was lucky to be educated at BU. It’s a big part of what shaped me. So what better place is there to give a gift to than the institution that accepted me with open arms?”
Kilachand says he worries that in this age of professional specialization, academic interest in the humanities is waning. “People don’t want to go into liberal arts,” he says. “I think for people to be future leaders, you need a focused approach to humanities, the fine arts, so that you have a well-rounded personality. And then the concept came, and I said, ‘Okay, I’m ready to do my little bit.’”
Charles Dellheim, director of the Honors College and a College of Arts & Sciences professor of history, says Kilachand’s appreciation of the college’s mission makes him the perfect donor. “Rajen is a humane and entrepreneurial man who is interested in the welfare of students and the education of students,” Dellheim says. “He is someone who knows the importance of taking risks, both in business and in the university environment. He is also someone with an unusually clear understanding of the way the world is shaping up. He once said that when he started in business, he had no idea that he would have to be a bit of an engineer and a bit of an anthropologist and a bit of a political scientist and a bit of a psychologist, but that is what he had to be. And here at the Honors College, what we do is try to prepare students for the very complex world they will be entering by exposing them to the same diverse branches of knowledge.”
Kilachand says he hopes his gift will help students gain the knowledge that will enable them to achieve the greatness of earlier generations. “Young men and women in this country need to go out in the world with open minds and no preconceived notions,” he says. “They have to free their minds to do the kinds of things their founding fathers did. They have to go out into the world and build.”