Tata gives $50 million to Cornell varsity

October 20th, 2008 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 20 (IANS) Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata has gifted $50 million to Cornell University, his alma mater here, an endowment considered “one of the most generous ever received from an international benefactor by an American university”. The gift announced by Cornell president David Skorton during his State of the University address Friday will help recruit top Indian students to the campus and to support joint research projects with Indian universities in agriculture and nutrition.

The gift from Tata Trusts, a group of philanthropic organisations run by the head of the business conglomerate Tata Sons, will allow Cornell to establish and expand partnerships with Indian scientists and build on its strength in applied agriculture research.

The donation will also be used to set up a scholarship fund to bring more Indian students, who may be discouraged by Cornell’s price tag, to the university. The gift could eventually help support as many as 25 Indian undergraduate and graduate students at a time.

The endowment consists of $25 million to establish the Tata-Cornell Initiative in Agriculture and Nutrition, which will contribute to advances in nutrition and agriculture for India, and $25 million for the Tata Scholarship Fund to help attract more bright Indian students to Cornell.

“We want to have our doors wide open and accessible to the best students, regardless of their capacity to pay,” said Skorton.

Skorton, who calls Cornell the “land-grant university to the world”, says the Tata funds will expand on its previous work to improve the productivity, sustainability, and profitability of India’s food system.

Faculty members in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have conducted research experiments and exchanged scientific information with their Indian counterparts for more than 50 years.

For his part, Ratan Tata, who graduated from Cornell in 1959 and received an architecture degree from here in 1962, said he did not want his donation to finance “bricks and mortar”.

“I didn’t want my name on a building,” he said.

The Tata Group has a long tradition in philanthropy and was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2007.

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