Dubai-based global entrepreneur donates $25 million to Boston University

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The decades after the Second World War were a golden age for American universities. They established themselves to be among the best in the world, and pioneered fields such as technology and biomedical research. In recent years, however, universities in the US have entered a period of uncertainty. Budget cuts and global financial meltdown have all eaten into university endowments, while internally, university administrations and faculty, renowned for their enterprise and innovation, have been beset by institutional rigidities. “In the face of proliferating scientific discoveries, mounting interest in non-western societies, and new awareness of the cultural achievements of women and minorities, we are no longer sure what knowledge and skills a liberal education should foster,” says Charles Dellheim, director of Kilachand College. With this in mind, Boston University’s Kilachand College is taking a bold and ambitious approach to the big issues facing higher education: Our goal is to help redefine liberal education for a new century.

Kilachand College will be an engine of innovation not just for the entire university but for re-defining liberal arts education across the country. It is, above all, a community – a community of scholars, artists, scientists, and professionals with a common purpose: to foster enterprise, research, discovery and creative activity across disciplines and schools, and in doing so, arm students with the ability to go out into a complicated modern world to do great and important things.

“In this age of professional specialization, academic interest in the humanities is waning,” says Mr Rajen Kilachand, Chairman & President of Dodsal Group, “People don’t want to go into liberal arts, but 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. Now, I’m ready to do my little bit.”

“What is most original about Kilachand College is our approach to liberal education. It integrates the arts, sciences, and professions, and breaks down the divides between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ knowledge. Our central theme is how research, creation, and invention take place in a variety of academic disciplines and human activities,” says Mr Charles Dellheim, Director of Kilachand College. Thus unlike most institutions, Kilachand College’s liberal education will acquaint students with the subject matter, approaches, and teaching methods of both the arts and sciences, and the professions. “A liberal education should cultivate self-discovery, clarity of thought and expression, and understanding of the arts, society, and the natural world,” says Dellheim. “But it’s also necessary for students to understand the dynamics of global capitalism, the impact of technology, the development of new media and art forms, and transformations in law and medicine,” he adds.

“Rajen Kilachand is a person of extraordinary foresight and rare generosity. I am deeply grateful for his vision and his commitment to our Honors College, which serves our highest achieving students. 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, is his insightful understanding of the enduring importance of undergraduate education, both to him and to the University,” says Mr Robert A. Brown, President of Boston University.

Kilachand College will offer the personal atmosphere of a small liberal arts college and the range and resources of a large urban research university. It will emphasize community: Students will be part of a wonderfully talented peer group with diverse interests. It will develop individuality: Kilachand College offers small classes; close interaction with excellent faculty; exceptional opportunities for research/creative activity, special academic advising and career services. It will foster innovation: It will offer a new kind of education that prepares students for a complex world by introducing them to a variety of approaches and perspectives.

Last year, Kilachand College admitted its first batch of 58 students. This year, the second class had 84 students. Year three will see a class of roughly 100 students, and by year four in 2015, the college will have an estimated 400 students. Applications for Kilachand College numbered 19,500 for this year. When applying to Kilachand College students will apply in tandem to any of the 8 schools and colleges within Boston University. 1/4th of their coursework or 32 credits during their four-year course will be taken at Kilachand College in disciplines ranging from Bioethics to Astronomy and Literature to Climate Change. The Honors College offers students the opportunity at an interdisciplinary perspective in the liberal arts while maintaining focus on one of BU’s 17 existing schools and colleges.

By doing this, the Kilachand College will offer students the best of both worlds: a small liberal arts college experience coupled with all the range and resources of a major urban research institute.

Mr Rajen Kilachand’s Family History

The Dodsal Group was founded in Mumbai, India, in 1948 by the Nandlal Kilachand family as a trading company in partnership with a British trading company (DODWEL) and Mr Karsa Salem. Under the leadership of Mr Rajen Kilachand, the Group has transformed from a family trading enterprise into a multi-billion dollar Organization built on cutting edge technology, expertise, integrity and an unswerving commitment to excellence. The Dodsal Group today, is one of the leading players in the Engineering, Procurement and Construction sector, and has diversified to encompass businesses that include Trading and Distribution; Mining of Minerals & Metals; Exploration & Production of Hydrocarbons; Casual Dining Restaurants; and Manufacturing of machinery and equipment for the energy sector.

Rajen Kilachand’s reputation as a visionary business leader is eclipsed only by his work as a career philanthropist. With a personal commitment of over US$ 50 million (of which US$ 25 million has been given as an endowment to Boston University for the Kilachand Honours College) to core philanthropic initiatives that span healthcare, vocational training and education, including building libraries and teachers training institutions, Rajen Kilachand is the Chairman and President of the Dodsal Group, a multi-billion dollar multinational company, operating in several countries with a multicultural workforce.

Rajen Kilachand’s passion for art, music and culture has also propelled him to launch and encourage numerous initiatives in India and the UAE. His social initiatives span a vivid spectrum – from sponsoring music and art festivals, and supporting healthcare initiatives, to sponsoring cultural and historical showcases of India across the world; funding community theatres and AIDS awareness programs in Africa and Papua New Guinea and being the first foreigner who extended generous support to ‘Dubai Cares’, an initiative of the UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s heart.

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