TAMPA, FL (TP): An Indian-American doctor couple, Drs. Kiran C. and Pallavi Patel have donated $12 million to the University of South Florida in a new endowment aimed at creating the Patel College of Global Sustainability, expanding on nearly a decade of worldleading applied research to advance sustainability around the globe and improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Pending approval from university panels, the new college will elevate the work of the Patel School of Global Sustainability to a new level that allows it to build on its far-reaching portfolio of projects focused on improved urban systems, water and transportation. The gift is the Patels’ latest contribution to the ongoing USF: Unstoppable fundraising campaign.
The new endowment brings the Patel’s contributions to USF to $25,798,329 through a series of donations and state matching funds in which the Patels have focused attention on sustainable global development and health care. Past giving has supported the Dr. Kiran C Patel Endowment Fund; the construction of the Patel Center for Global Solutions; the Dr. Kiran Patel Center for Global Solutions Operating Fund and USF Health. Since 2010, the Patel School of Global Sustainability has served as a graduate-level program in the education of new engineers, entrepreneurs and environmental managers to lead sustainability projects around the world.
“The Earth is God’s gift to humanity and we believe that the current generation must ensure that while meeting our present needs, we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” the Patels said in a joint statement
“The world’s rapidly depleting resources and growing population require us to become more efficient and think of new ways to develop sustainable and renewable sources of clean water, energy, food and transportation. We envision the new Patel College of Global Sustainability will deploy the intellectual capital of the University of South Florida, its professors and students to find solutions to the challenges facing our world today. The new college will create lasting changes that will improve and preserve the standard of living of global communities for many generations to come.”
USF President Judy Genshaft commended the Patels for their leadership and influence in helping shape USF, now a Top 50 research university, with an international perspective that has become a hallmark of its applied research programs.
“The new college will give the next generation the tools it needs to build a healthier and more sustainable future for our planet and its people, while developing a global network of leaders to put the most effective new tools and plans to work,” Genshaft said.
“We are 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. We are humbled that they have entrusted the University of South Florida to be a partner in making the vision of a better tomorrow a reality,” she added.
Patel School of Global Sustainability Executive Director Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy said the new college will focus on demand-lead, outputoriented research and teaching that “results in real and measurable changes on the ground in order to create healthy, livable and resilient cities.”
“It will also train a new generation of sustainability leaders equipped with the skills necessary to advance the growing green economy, both in the United States and across the globe,” he added.
Born in India, Pallavi Patel and the Zambia-born Kiran Patel first met while studying medicine in Ahmedabad, India. Both doctors received their advanced specializations in New York at Columbia University; he in cardiology, and she in pediatrics. As the successful founders of a physician-owned and run managed care plan, the Patels have turned their attention in recent years to philanthropic endeavors. They have earned a reputation for generosity for developing and funding a variety of programs in health, education, arts and culture. The Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions was launched in 2005.
From the Patel Conservatory in downtown Tampa to a school, job training center and hospital in the village in India where Kiran Patel’s father was born to matching donations to tsunami victims in South Asia, the couple has specifically targeted their philanthropy to organizations and efforts that directly touch the lives of those most in need.
Pallavi Patel is known for defining the Patel School of Global Sustainability as a “do tank, not a think tank” in reference to its many projects aimed at applied research that can quickly be employed to improve lives in the developing world.
To those ends, the Patel School recently became the first North American university in a research and strategy partnership with the UNHabitat Partner University Initiative. USF and UN-Habitat agreed to establish the Urban Futures research hub at the Patel School, which will promote education, professional development and policy advice on emerging cities.
Also, the World Bank has selected the Patel School to help develop and implement its urban water strategy in Africa, including the development of strategic papers for the “Cities of the Future in Africa” program. The Patel School’s research team is now developing innovative integrated urban water solutions coupled with demonstration activities, for towns and cities in Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon.
Later this year, the Patel Grand Challenge – an international design competition to build an effective and inexpensive water filtration system that can easily be provided to the most remote and water-challenged areas of the world – will select its winner. The $100,000 prize will allow the inventors – all from nations in the developing world – to turn the new device into a reality.
Closer to home, the Patel School has created Resilient Tampa Bay, an multiyear learning and research partnership with water management experts in the Netherlands in an effort to prepare the Tampa Region for urban flooding challenges brought by hurricanes and rising sea levels. The program is now helping guide future development and mitigation efforts to protect areas of the community vulnerable to severe flooding.