Karen Kullas (ENG’77)

Engineering a gift

Presidential scholar alumna gives to BME through her 401(k)

Reflecting on her career success since graduating from BU, Karen Kullas (ENG’77) has a strategy: “BU took care of me, so now it’s my turn to take care of BU.”

Kullas holds 13 U.S. patents, and four more are pending. At C.R. Bard, she develops medical products—like a mechanism that’s been used all over the world to make endoscopic medical procedures safer. “When I see it in use in operating rooms, I’m very proud,” she says.

Kullas readily admits that she wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that she has if it hadn’t been for Boston University, the College of Engineering, and her presidential scholarship.

“I came from a very poor family,” says Kullas, who grew up in Taunton, Massachusetts. “My mother had passed away, and my father was a police officer struggling to make the mortgage payments and pay off funeral expenses. My father knew I should be educated, but we couldn’t qualify for the $1,200 loan we needed for me to go to a state school. I was stuck.”

Fortunately, Boston University had a solution: The University took notice of her brains and hard work in high school and offered her a full-tuition, room and board presidential scholarship.

Later, it turned out that supporting her alma mater was much easier than figuring out how to pay for college: Kullas designated that, as part of her estate plan, a percentage of her 401(k) retirement plan go to the Biomedical Engineering Department at BU’s College of Engineering.

“My financial advisor recommended that if I were to make a donation, it should come out of my retirement fund because that would lower my tax liability,” says Kullas. In addition to being tax beneficial, it was also a simple way to make a gift: “I had to fill out a one-page document to add BU as a beneficiary—that’s all.” And that was plenty. Today, Kullas is a proud BU donor.