A U of T PhD alum-turned-business owner has donated $2 million to UTSC to help fund a Tamil studies post-doctoral fellowship.

The gift comes from Ravi Gukathasan, who completed his PhD at U of T in 1986. Now, Gukathasan is the CEO of Digital Specialty Chemicals Ltd., based out of Scarborough.

The $2 million donation is the largest single cash donation from an alumnus ever received by the campus. The 10-year program will fund the Ethan and Leah Schweitzer Gukathasan Fellowship, a post-doctoral fellowship named after Gukathansan’s two teenage children.

The funds will also be allocated to scholarships, digital archiving, and event programming. The donation will provide a $500,000 programming fund, $150,000 digital fund and $100,000 to be awarded as scholarships, also to be named after his children.

Gukathasan cited the Tamil community as the reason for his donation. In a statement to U of T News, Gukathasan stated “we have the biggest Tamil diaspora in the world in Scarborough. They need to be proud.”

Gukathasan grew up near Jaffna, located in Sri Lanka. In 1978, his family settled in Scarborough,where he attended Scarborough College — now UTSC. At that time, he was one of only two Tamils in the school.

A previous donation from Gukathasan allowed a Tamil studies conference to be sponsored by UTSC, while also providing means for the UTSC Library to grow its Tamil-language collection.

UTSC Principal Bruce Kidd applauded Gukathansan’s donation, telling U of T News he was “confident that his generous example will stimulate other alumni, not just alumni from the Tamil community, to step forward with game-changing donations.”

—With files from U of T News

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