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  1. Education

Patels donate $12 million to USF

TAMPA — Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel announced a $12 million donation to the University of South Florida on Tuesday that will be used to expand the Patel School of Global Sustainability.

Founded in 2010, the school focuses on research and community involvement aimed at helping vulnerable communities around the world.

The donation will turn the school, which currently operates as a graduate program, into the College of Global Sustainability. It will expand graduate enrollment and faculty and fund more research, school officials said.

About 50 students attend the school. As a college, enrollment could reach up to 120 students, said USF spokeswoman Vickie Chachere. The school also may expand the curriculum to include a doctoral program.

With the donation, faculty also will be able to earn tenure, and the school will take on larger projects.

"They're going to keep doing what they're doing," Chachere said. "Just make it bigger."

The Patels made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting with USF president Judy Genshaft, Patel school director Kala Vairavamoorthy and students in the program.

"The new college," Genshaft said, "will give a new generation the tools it needs to build a healthier and more sustainable future for our planet and its people."

The changes are pending based on the review of school officials, Chachere said.

Besides class work, students must finish projects overseas to complete the graduate program. Past projects were conducted in several countries, including Ecuador, Ghana and Singapore.

The school, which has conferred 23 master's degrees in global sustainability, has worked with several organizations, including the United Nations, school officials said.

The contribution brings the total donations from the Patels to USF to nearly $26 million, officials said. The couple has given millions to USF, including money in 2005 to build the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, home to the graduate program and the Office of Sustainability.

The Patels, who are both doctors, made their fortune from founding a managed health care company and medical software companies.

Laura C. Morel can be reached at (727)893-8713 or