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Philanthropy Couple Makes History As NSU Medical School Is Named After Them

Nova Southeastern University held it’s 20th annual Celebration of Excellence Ceremony Saturday night. But this year, the two guests of honor - and the first Indian Americans to have a U.S. medical school named after them - have made NSU history. 

The husband and wife duo from Tampa, Drs. Kiran C. Patel and Pallavi Patel, announced an expansion of a donation totaling $225 million. This makes them the largest contributors in the university’s history.


NSU’s new medical school, which became accredited last year, is now the the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine. The M.D. program is joining the college of Osteopathic medicine that already bears the Patel name, and will have a medical campus in Clearwater Fla. 

Pallavi Patel said the reason she and her husband did this was to have med students 10, 20 and 30 years from now feel like they belong somewhere. 

“We always wanted to help a lot of people who want to be medical professionals, and who are struggling or looking for a place where they have a happy and healthy environment to flourish their dream,” she said.

Her husband, Kiran Patel, agrees. He said his favorite part is looking toward the future good that medical students in Broward County can go on to do.  

“The impact these doctors will have around the world, both in the United States, Florida and overseas, is mind-boggling,” he said.

During his speech, NSU President George Hanbury reminded the audience that in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, when almost 1,000 students and faculty members were stranded in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he asked Kiran Patel for help. 

“And without any hesitation, he provided his jets, his pilots...not just once, but five times,” he said. 

At the Celebration of Excellence Ceremony, NSU also renamed the college of nursing after current Board of Trustees Chairman Ron Assaf and his wife, Kathy.  

Hanbury said it was the Assaf’s renaming of the college of nursing that took the university over its capital campaign goal.   

“That put us at $252 million, exceeding our philanthropic goal by three years, so our 10-year goal that started in 2010 got finished in 2017,” Hanbury said.

The Realizing Potential campaign is now worth more than $250 million in research and donations to NSU, making it the largest philanthropic campaign to be completed by a private institution in Broward County. 

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NSU installed a temporary building for the invitation-only ceremony. The cost per plate was $275.
Caitie Switalski / WLRN
The Florida Channel
NSU installed a temporary building for the invitation-only ceremony. The cost per plate was $275.

Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.