Indian American gives $11 mn to US varsity

June 14th, 2008 - 10:36 am ICT by IANS  

By Parveen Chopra
New York, June 14 (IANS) An Indian American, a native of Amritsar, has become the top individual donor to a US university, his alma mater, by gifting it nearly $11 million. John P. Kapoor, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur, bequested the money to the State University of New York at Buffalo, which had offered him a graduate fellowship in the 1960s when the Bombay University graduate could not afford to pay.

The gift will support construction of a new home for the Buffalo university’s nationally ranked pharmacy school, as well as to fund research, student financial aid and an emerging-technologies fund.

While making the bequest, Kapoor said, “I owe so much to this university. Fortunately, I am in a position to help, and the university is on the top of my list.”

The Amritsar-born Kapoor earned his doctorate in medicinal chemistry in 1972 at the university and went on to become an entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical industry. But he never forgot his alma mater. In 2000, he gave it $5 million, and increased it to $10.8 million last month.

John B. Simpson, president of the university, and Wayne K. Anderson, dean, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, thanked Kapoor.

“It’s a point of substantial pride for us that our pharmacy school provided the foundation for Dr Kapoor’s remarkable career in the pharmaceutical industry. It is very significant to our university that he has chosen to honour his alma mater with another truly extraordinary gift that will help us take the school to even greater heights of excellence,” Simpson said.

Kapoor began his corporate career on Grand Island, New York as general manager for Lyphomed, a unit of Stone Container Corp. He was named president of the division in 1980, and in 1981 he bought it for $2.7 million.

He took the company’s sales from $4 million to $172 million, before eventually selling it. With the profits, he formed EJ Financial Enterprises Inc, which invests in healthcare startups.

Kapoor and his late wife, Editha, a Grand Island native, ran the John and Editha Kapoor Charitable Foundation to support children and youth services, higher education, hospitals and other causes in India. Since 1986, the Foundation has funded research, a state-of-the-art instrumentation core and graduate fellowships at the Buffalo university.

Kapoor remembered that without the university’s support “it would have been impossible for me to come to the US to pursue higher education. I received tremendous support and encouragement from the faculty at the school as I tried to adjust to a different system of education. I also learned a great deal about this country at the university.”

The honours he has received include the American Cancer Society International Achievement Award for Philanthropy and the San Diego Indian American Society Chakra Award.

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