The biggest-ever gift to BU just got bigger, and Shelton Hall just got a new name.
Trustee Rajen Kilachand (GSM’74) has boosted last year’s record $25 million gift to what is now called the Kilachand Honors College by another $10 million, which will be used to renovate the Shelton Hall student residence. That building, renamed Kilachand Hall in honor of the donor’s parents, will house Kilachand Honors College students. Both installments of Kilachand’s donation are part of the University’s just-announced $1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign.
“He has shown us the transformative impact one individual can have at Boston University,” President Robert A. Brown says. “Rajen’s generosity also comes at a historic time for Boston University as we launch our first comprehensive campaign. He is an exemplar for all of us,” with the renamed Kilachand Hall “another permanent reminder of his impact.”
The renovations to the dorm are still being designed, and Kilachand Hall, which currently has capacity for 420 students, will house both Kilachand Honors College students and those from other schools. The renovations will not affect the second through eighth floors (the residential ones) and likely will leave in place, near-term anyway, the fourth floor’s Writers’ Corridor, so dubbed because playwright Eugene O’Neill lived there in the 1950s, when the building was a hotel. The Nobel laureate died there in November 1953, and lore has it that his ghost haunts the fourth floor. Its residents publish their collected writings (“Eugene’s Legacy”) each spring. Originally one of the first Sheraton Hotels, the 1923 structure was sold and renamed the Shelton Hotel. BU bought it in 1954 for dorm space.
Walt Meissner (CFA’81), associate vice president for operations, says the renovations will include a new elevator and stairwell to the ninth floor lounge areas, which will double as lounge space and as a site for events hosted by the Kilachand Honors College and the University. The renovated first floor will have student study and meeting space, new offices for college staff, a seminar/conference room, a common room, office space for the Residence Life staff, and improved services (such as laundry facilities).
Meissner says that as the headline occupant of the building, the Kilachand Honors College “will have the flexibility to expand its residential program,” which “is an essential component to building and fostering the Honors College community.”
Other BU schools and programs also have designated residential space, because of the University’s belief that socializing with fellow students and faculty out of class supports in-class learning. And while the Kilachand Honors College is definitely part of a major research university, director Charles Dellheim, the first Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor, says it is a very personal program, with “the spirit of a small liberal arts college.”
Dellheim, who is also a College of Arts & Sciences professor of history, says Kilachand’s gift gives students at his namesake college “the opportunity to live together, to get to know each other in informal, social situations, and to have faculty and students meet outside of the classroom.”
The Kilachand Honors College plans to enroll 400 students by 2016 and offers classes for BU’s highest performing freshmen. Its students enroll in one of BU’s undergraduate schools, but take a quarter of their credits through the college.
The gift and the marriage of the Kilachand Honors College to a dorm “allows us to fully realize the possibilities of a residential honors college at BU,” says Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer. “This latest gift completes the creation of this college-within-a-college.…It is a true point of pride for Boston University, and we are thankful to Mr. Kilachand and excited for what the future holds.”
Kilachand announced his initial gift a year ago this month. He is the president and chairman of the Dodsal Group, a multinational with engineering, mining, trading, and hospitality interests. He has also given money to programs ranging from AIDS to arts around the world. He earned his MBA at BU and then lost touch with the University. Kilachand credits Brown with reaching out to him and other foreign alumni in recent years to reconnect them with the University.