Delhi-Based Entrepreneur Sharik Currimbhoy Pledges $12.12 Million to New York’s Columbia University

Media contact:  Tanya Domi, 212-854-5579,
NEW YORK, December 11, 2012—Columbia University has announced that Delhi-based entrepreneur Sharik Currimbhoy has pledged a generous gift of $12.12 million. The gift is broad in scope and will span multiple schools at the University. It will support research and fellowships with a focus on India and emerging markets. The gift is timed to coincide with the auspicious moment of 12:12 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12, 2012—12:12 on 12-12-12. This is the largest gift from an alumnus in India to Columbia.
“The University has been rapidly developing its ability to extend our scholarship and learning across national borders and also traditional boundaries separating academic disciplines,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “Sharik Currimbhoy, who came to Morningside Heights from India to study at the College, appreciates the importance of this growth, and we are grateful for his support of University-wide programs advancing this mission and our engagement with his home country.”
Currimbhoy studied economics at Columbia College from 1998-2002. He has varied business interests and is the founder of Element Capital, an investment company with a focus on private equity and real estate. The gift is made in honor of his great-great-grandfather, Sir Currimbhoy Ebrahim.
“Columbia University molded me into the person I am today by giving me the opportunity to live and work in the financial center of the world,” Currimbhoy said. “At the same time, I was deeply impacted by Columbia’s Core Curriculum, the College’s courses on significant ideas and achievements in literature, philosophy, history, music, art and science.”
Sharik is part of a long history of philanthropy for the Currumbhoy family focusing on education and the arts. This new gift to Columbia is the family’s first gift to an international institution. He will be working with President Bollinger and other senior academic leaders to develop the details of the programs to be supported. 
“To this day I recall my first Lit Hum class with the captivating Wallace Gray,” Currimbhoy said. “Little known to us freshman, Professor Gray was the foremost authority on Joyce in the world. Professor Gray went on to be my friend, philosopher, guide and mentor. That was the beauty of Columbia; the youngest are led by the wisest. I vividly recall the day I told him I was starting up a financial news company. ‘But Sharik’, he said, ‘you’re a poet.’ While I was never able to live up to Professor Gray’s hopes that I would be the next Frost, my poems are the institutions I have built. Columbia gave me a gift that will last a lifetime, and I would like to return that gift over more than one lifetime.
“I have kept a focus on emerging markets and India because I feel India is on the tipping point of a huge leap forward. India has a vibrant democracy, an ancient civilization, and a massive populous that needs infrastructure, housing and sustainable development. I hope that my contribution inspires other Columbia alumni to give back as well—for it is in giving that we receive.”
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