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$25 Million Gift Largest in BU History

Alum and trustee Kilachand’s pledge will rename Honors College


Rajen Kilachand, a Dubai-based global entrepreneur, has pledged $25 million to support the Honors College, whose full name will become 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 of giving—from sponsoring music and art festivals to funding community theaters and AIDS awareness programs in Africa and Papua New Guinea.

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.”

“Young men and women in this country need to go out in the world with open minds and no preconceived notions. They have to go out into the world and build.”

~ Rajen Kilachand

Kilachand’s connection with Boston University predates his arrival to begin an MBA program at SMG by nearly 100 years. According to family history, his great-grandfather started a cotton exporting business in Bombay in the 1880s. Among his customers was the Lawrence family, the famous New England industrialists who built the textile mills of Lawrence, Mass., and, coincidentally, the Gothic Revival mansion now known as Sloane House—the home of Brown and his wife, Beverly Brown. That connection was still intact when Kilachand came to the University in 1971. Kilachand says John Lawrence, a descendant of his family’s 19th-century business partner, helped him find his way.

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. It is second to none in the world.”

A longtime philanthropist himself, Kilachand serves on the board of Pathfinder International, a global nonprofit that focuses on reproductive health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and he is the only foreign sponsor of the New Orleans Jazz Festival. He also supports 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. 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.

Rajen Kilachand and BU President Robert A. Brown, Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College

President Robert A. Brown presents a plaque to Rajen Kilachand (GSM’74) naming Boston University Honors College in memory of his parents Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand. Photo by Vernon Doucette

“My late great-grandfather and his sons have been great philanthropists in India,” says Kilachand. “And we continue today, all in our separate ways. I have been focusing more and more on my passion for education for children and for medical aid, but education is the key driver of how we handle the future. 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.”

Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

29 Comments on $25 Million Gift Largest in BU History

  • Anne Marie Rezendes on 09.23.2011 at 9:26 am

    WOW, what a wonderful man. May he be just as blessed as thoses he helps. All my best to Mr.Kilachand and his family. Thank You for you!!

  • Evangeline on 09.24.2011 at 11:16 am

    Dear BU community
    What a historic event. What a wonderful moment for all of us to make the extraordinary work of our students talents through Making Learning Visible: the ePortfolio Project. Honors College students are developing ePortfolios for the community to see their growth through the BU experience!
    I am honored to support this work and ask others to join us.

  • srini on 09.25.2011 at 7:04 am


  • srini on 09.25.2011 at 7:05 am

    Very Humble feel and short talk by Rajen Kilachand
    we need more such desi money men to do their bit world

    Srini in Bengaluru!

  • Katie on 09.26.2011 at 9:27 am

    He seems like a wonderful and generous man. But I’m not sure he picked the right place to donate the money. The Honors College has always had more than enough money to take the students to fancy dinners, cruises, etc. Other BU programs do a lot more for education and use their funds (which are smaller) less excessively.

    • Cartman on 09.26.2011 at 12:23 pm

      Are you familiar with the budget or the goals of the KHC? Which programs do you feel “do a lot more for education”?

      • Dan on 09.29.2011 at 10:33 pm

        No, we’re not familiar. Please enlighten us. We’re all ears.

  • ga on 09.26.2011 at 11:22 am


  • Alex on 09.26.2011 at 11:55 am

    Katie, I dont think you have your facts straight. The Honors College offered their students a Boston harbor cruise, so before you try to spin words, that is what happened. There is no telling what the KHC will use this endowment on, but with the support and careful watch of President Brown and the trustees, i dont think you have to worry about Mr. Kilachand’s choice.

    • John on 09.26.2011 at 12:52 pm

      They offered their students a Boston harbor cruise…i.e. a waste of money and probably one of the reasons our tuition/r&b prices increase by around 3.8% each year (even though inflation last academic year was roughly 2% and even less the year before that). And the average college increase within the U.S. was 3.2% in 2006.

      And even with their increased costs, the accepted pool of incoming freshman becomes less and less impressive each year. Average SAT scores of incoming students continue to decline each year.

      Rant complete…Point being that BU is an inefficient institution and Mr. Kilachand should have been a philanthropist elsewhere because i can almost guarantee this money will get blown on another useless endeavor.

      • Marcus on 09.28.2011 at 7:36 am

        1. Balking about tuition or complaining about research funding have nothing to do with this unprecedented generosity.

        2. Your selfish, disrespectful, and uninformed comments run totally counter to the point of this story.

        For your next rant, try placing it somewhere that makes you look less immature. It will carry more weight if people think you’re a big boy.

        • Justin on 09.28.2011 at 11:27 am

          Could not agree more. This is a moment in history that should be celebrated and will be. It is donations like this that give us students the opportunity to have the best available resources at our disposal so we can possitively impact the world in which we live.

      • BUAlum84 on 09.29.2011 at 9:34 am

        John, you clearly do not understand how endowments and tuition increases work. Additionally, each school and department at any university must submit detailed budgets to the office of the president and provost which will include all plans for funds throughout the next academic year. Did you stop to think that perhaps because the Honors College is small it is able to use discretionary social activity funds for things such as harbor cruises, whereas schools and colleges with more students are forced to hold ice cream socials and BBQs due to having less funds available per student?

        Additionally, the incoming students at Boston University are more and more impressive each year. (http://www.bu.edu/today/2011/class-of-2015-smaller-but-smarter/). Based on the numbers in the previous article, UHC students score an average of 728/800 on each section of the SAT. I can guarantee you, as an alum of BU, that these scores are a significant increase compared to those of students admitted in previous years.

        As a student of BU, you should be glad that your university is being recognized and is gaining prestige, if nothing else it makes your degree worth more. This is not the appropriate forum to discuss your unhappiness with your undergraduate education.

    • Danny on 12.18.2011 at 10:00 pm

      I attend BU now and was admitted to the College or General studies. To be honest, we have a boat cruise EVERY YEAR…… I do not see why this event is even an issue.

  • http://www.bu.edu/today/2011/class-of-2015-applicants-set-record/ on 09.26.2011 at 1:35 pm


  • John on 09.26.2011 at 3:47 pm

    I would like to see how this money is actually used. I except it will go almost entirely to funding research, which does not benefit the students of BU

    • Alan on 09.27.2011 at 9:49 am

      It’s impossible to make everything benefit students directly but increased research funding definitely would. Students support many of the professors that do research through assistantships and other roles. Research also helps increase the reputation of the university which in turn increases the value of each student’s degree.

      But really, you probably won’t change your opinion no matter how much contrary evidence is thrown at you.

    • Tanmay on 09.27.2011 at 1:42 pm

      What an unbelievably narrow view. Universities across the river are considered to be one of the best in the world predominantly because they are the world leaders in research. This in turn benefits all students, helps create an active alumni body which funds more money into the university. The end result: better facilities and more scholarships for all students, regardless of their interest in research.

  • mlopes on 09.27.2011 at 9:49 am

    Thank you very much. This is wonderful. Blessed us all. We hope this makes big changes at BU.

  • Marcus on 09.28.2011 at 7:29 am

    First, I think we should all show Mr. Kilachand a great deal of gratitude and respect. He invests in all kinds of causes that he finds worthy, from art to education. This undoubtedly benefits all students.

    I say, thanks.

  • Kim on 09.28.2011 at 10:38 am

    Thank you Mr. Kilachand for your generosity. I agree 100% with Marcus on showing gratitude and respect for Mr. Kilachand.

    Those of you with negative comments on where and how the money should/will be spent need to grow up and show respect period.

  • Ashley on 09.29.2011 at 7:49 am

    I agree that this is a wonderful donation, however I can’t help but wonder specifically where the money will end up. Everyone has thier own opinion on what is appropriate use of money and what is not, but at the end of the day if it’s used to benefit the students, it can’t be bad.

  • Joseph on 10.02.2011 at 7:32 am

    I personally will never donate a dime to Boston University. The school’s reputation is not what it should be given the cost of attendance. Their alumni association is among the worst I have ever seen, schools like Penn State (much cheaper) are far superior. If BU wants to get better it needs to get top notch students and top notch alumni support to place its students.

    I have also noticed a decrease in the average SAT score of the accepted student at BU. It is disheartening and not what we needed. I remember when I was there the school under Chancellor Silber, was trying to deflate grades to make it look like a more difficult institution, well you know what it didn’t help as the school’s academic reputation did not increase.

    Just saying that I am disappointed that’s all..

  • Joseph on 10.02.2011 at 7:38 am

    How about using some of that 25 million on an online transcript request service?

  • Ramesh Kumar Nanjundaiya (MET 1981) on 10.12.2011 at 12:11 am

    Great show from a fellow Indian indeed. Let it be used to further BU’s name internationally. In this regard, I had written another piece elsewhere on BU and its momentum which I have quoted below for information:

    BU Profile
    BU has already stepped up its pace particularly in the last 24 months. I see that Provost Jean Morrison has undertaken vital structural changes to further the momentum at BU. For one, I gather she is working diligently with each academic department to clarify and articulate the competitive strengths and to identify the initiatives necessary to further the various degree programs. Here self-assessment becomes a key with a new provost to gear up to the accreditation maintenance review. Another avenue that Provost Jean Morrison could look to do well is to assess the marketplace, the competition and student satisfaction and performance. This way, each department would have developed a clear articulation of the theoretical and practical value it provides to its students and identified the areas where the investment of incremental resources is most compelling. It may be noted that the dramatic impact of technology is not restricted to the industries but to the field of education as well. BU will do well to ensure that the classrooms have all been significantly upgraded technologically and the faculty is well trained on the latest pedagogical tools for the classroom. As BU also provides a significant amount of curriculum online, it should further develop a strategy to leverage the reach of electronic delivery systems and platforms so that this generation of students at BU take the full advantage of technology and its pedagogical possibilities, efficient dissemination of information and growth. BU should strategise further to give due importance to Interdisciplinary learning as it will become an increasingly important element for growth and will aid students to be more effective problem solvers in career and in life. I am sure Provost Jean Morrison has already set plans to further BU in the global space.

  • Mark J. Guay, PC on 10.14.2011 at 3:20 pm

    JFK asked Americans to IMAGINE a man on the moon. Steve Jobs told us to IMAGINE new technology. John Lennon wrote a song called IMAGINE. They were all BIG IMAGINERS. Rajen, by his gift, is asking BU to IMAGINE BIG. As a BU grad myself, I personally cannot think of a more thoughtful way to express his appreciation to BU. My wife is from Missouri – the SHOW ME state. Rajen doesn’t just imagine big, he shows us big money to do it. If you think any less, you are just “thinking small”. America was built on imagining big first. Although I do not know you personally, thanks again Rajen.

    • SJ on 06.20.2012 at 3:06 am

      Very well said! Thanks Rajen!

  • 李磊 on 01.29.2012 at 10:20 pm


  • Neelofer K on 03.27.2012 at 11:15 am

    Rajen did a great job and we are proud of him and his good deed- $25M donation to the Honors College of BU.
    Keep up the good work Rajen!

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