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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, May 17, 2019 3 years ago

Philanthropist opens wallet for university’s new campus

Kiran Patel drops $230 million, gets a second college named after him.

File Nova Southeastern University’s new $230 million Clearwater campus — recently unveiled to area leaders and members of the media, ahead of its grand opening in the fall — firmly in the “offer you can’t refuse” category.

The institution already had a Tampa Bay regional campus, at 3632 Queen Palm Drive in Tampa, east of downtown near Interstate 75. Then philanthropist Kiran Patel, who made a fortune from the sale of WellCare and has funded a college of osteopathic medicine at NSU’s flagship Fort Lauderdale campus, came along with a proposal.

Nova Southeastern University President George Hanbury. Courtesy photo.

In 2016, it turns out, Patel had acquired, for $12 million, a 27-acre parcel at 3400 Gulf to Bay Boulevard in Clearwater, which housed the defunct Clearwater Christian College. Patel wanted to develop an independent college of osteopathic medicine on the site. But a dinner with NSU President George Hanbury led to discussions of an ambitious collaboration.

“I told him, ‘Instead of reinventing the wheel, just associate with us,’” Hanbury tells Coffee Talk. “I said, ‘If you build it, we will provide the educational and academic programs to do what you want.’”

As a result, NSU has moved its entire Tampa operation to the site in Clearwater, where Patel poured some $150 million into new, purpose-built facilities, as well as $80 million that will pay for everything from scholarships and lab equipment to faculty salaries. The university is even getting free rent for the first two years.

“It’s being built from scratch to our standards as an academic institution,” Hanbury says.

NSU’s Tampa Bay campus will offer medical, nursing, counseling, physical and occupational therapy, business, education and criminal justice degree programs, among others. And there will, of course, be a Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“He’s probably the only individual with two medical schools named after him,” Hanbury says. “He’s making quite a commitment. It’s a wonderful thing for the Tampa Bay region, as well as the university.”

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