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Indian American gives largest gift to US varsity

July 23, 2010 00:58 IST

Anand 'Bill' Julka, who came to the United States with a $1,500 student loan from a government-owned bank in India in 1968, has gifted $6 million to Cleveland State University, the largest single scholarship gift in the university's history.

"I always wanted to make a large contribution to the university that has given me so much to succeed," explained Julka, president and founder, Smart Solutions Inc.

What prompted him was "the president of the university coming to me requesting for a donation, given that the university is facing a budget shortfall thanks to downturn in the economy. And a lot of students who want to go to school are not able to get the financial support they need."

In recognition of his outstanding generosity, the CSU will name its newly completed College of Education and Human Services building, Julka Hall.

Julka, who earned a master's degree in industrial engineering from the university's Fenn College of Engineering in 1974, said he is passionate that students in Cleveland receive the same opportunity he had once received.

Part of the endowment will go for scholarships, where the greatest need is. "Many students already have economic challenges working against them," he said.

"I don't believe anyone should be denied a good education simply because they don't have the money to pay for it. Cleveland State played a critical role in my life, and the university continues to be a pivotal part of this community," he said.

Julka said his donation comes in support of the leadership of CSU President Ronald Berkman, who has brought a new vision to the university, including launching an on-campus K-12 International Baccalaureate School, an Urban Primary Care program in conjunction with the North Eastern Ohio University Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy and a $40 million north campus development project.

Julka's gift, Berkman said in a statement, 'also will play a critical role in the lives of many students who otherwise might have missed the opportunity for an advanced degree.'

Julka, who migrated to the US from India at the age of 22 with a few personal belongings and a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, chose the CSU's graduate school because it offered night classes, which he attended while working days at Eaton Corp.

Eleven years later, he founded Smart Solutions, a provider of systems integration and networking solutions, headquartered in Cleveland.

"I have an emotional bond with CSU not just because of the faculty or the administration that helped me when I first came here, but also because of the people there. I do have responsibility to pay back," Julka said.

"My father, on his birthdays, used to feed everybody in the neighborhood, rich or poor. He used to get a lot of satisfaction out of that. He taught us to share things with everybody," he added.

Image: Anand Julka with his wife

Suman Guha Mozumder