Patels donate $12M to start College of Global Sustainability

When Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel first announced their endowment of $18.5 million in 2005 to create the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, Pallavi Patel wanted to make sure the Center would be a do tank, not a think tank, her husband said Tuesday.

The Patels have been pleased with the progress theyve seen at USF, Kiran Patel said Tuesday at a press conference, and are now donating $12 million more to transform the Patel School of Global Sustainability, housed in the Patel Center, to the Kiran C. and Pallavi K. Patel College of Global Sustainability, making USF one of two universities in North America to host a College of Global Sustainability, they said. The other is Dalhousie University in Canada.

My wife has been insisting from day one, I dont want to spend money where people may just have reams of paper which means nothing, Kiran Patel said.

The College, which, pending approval, is expected to begin enrolling more masters students by Jan. 2013, already offers through the Center global internships, interdisciplinary seminars. They have partnered with the World Bank to help develop and implement water strategies in cities in Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon that are designed to be Cities of the Future, the United Nations Habitat to lead its study on the state of global water sanitation and the United Nations Environmental Program to develop and write a report on water use and economic growth.

Kala Vairavamoorthy, director of the School of Global Sustainability who will lead the College, said the endowment will allow the program to expand its enrollment and accomplish more in developing countries. Currently, about 50 students are enrolled in the schools masters program.

What inspired me about the Patels was their commitment to issues in developing countries, where we have still very difficult conditions in terms of water supply sanitation, basic energy provision and just meeting the basic needs, he said. In my conversations with the Patels, they made it very clear to me they felt they were on a mission, and they wanted us to try to make a difference. Weve tried to capture that spirit (here).

Despite the hiring freeze implemented by USF earlier this fall, Vairavamoorthy said the creation of the new College will allow USF to make some new appointments as well as grant some joint appointments to existing faculty.

USF President Judy Genshaft said USF was extremely grateful for the donation.

We are all inspired by the Patels vision of a world where all people have a real chance to reach their full potential in a clean and healthy environment, she said. We are very humbled to be a partner in making this vision of a better tomorrow and better reality for all. The Patels trust in us means as much as the money they have.

Kiran Patel, who with his wife was estimated to have a net worth of more than $274 million in 2008, according to the Tampa Bay Times, said he learned the spirit of giving from his family, who taught him somebody who is blessed more, more is expected from.

When I thought of this project, the partnership of the university and us playing a small role of being a catalyst, the impact this would have around the world is phenomenal, he said. I think everybody is aware of the challenges we are facing. The rate at which we are using our resources is going to be a major problem in years to come. The resources we use for our lifestyle in the U.S., if every citizen of this Earth wanted to have that type of lifestyle, which everybody wants, and deserves and should have, you will need four more earths to offset the resources were using.