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BU gets record gift of $25m

Entrepreneur has ties to school

By Matt Rocheleau
Globe Correspondent / September 23, 2011

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A Dubai-based global entrepreneur has pledged $25 million to Boston University, the largest single donation in the college’s 172-year history, BU announced yesterday.

The money from Rajen Kilachand will support BU’s recently established Honors College, which will be renamed in honor of Kilachand’s parents, Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand, university president Robert A. Brown said in a statement.

Rajen Kilachand is chairman and president of the Dodsal Group, a multinational conglomerate that holds interests in engineering, mining, trading, and fast-food businesses, the school said.

He graduated from BU’s Graduate School of Management in 1974 and is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.

“In this age of professional specialization, academic interest in the humanities is waning,’’ Kilachand said in the statement. “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.’’

The pledge represents a huge boost for the Honors College, which enrolled its first class in fall 2010.

The program allows a select number of students to study multiple academic fields within the liberal arts in addition to a focused study in one of BU’s 16 schools and colleges.

The four-year program includes collaborative research, cross-disciplinary classes, intensive seminars, and independent studies for seniors.

A longtime philanthropist, Kilachand serves on the board of Pathfinder International, a global nonprofit that focuses on family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention and care, the university said.

He also supports Dubai Cares, an initiative of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, BU said.

Kilachand, the only foreign sponsor of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, has committed more than $50 million to philanthropic causes in health care and vocational training and education, including building libraries and teacher training institutions, according to BU.

“Rajen Kilachand is a person of extraordinary foresight and rare generosity,’’ Brown said. “I am deeply grateful for his vision and his commitment to our Honors College.’’

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com.