The University of West Florida’s College of Health, has been renamed the Usha Kundu MD College of Health at the University of West Florida, following a gift to the University in excess of $5 million by Dr. Usha Kundu, 71, and her husband Mahadeb Kundu, 72, who have lived in Pensacola where the University is located for nearly four decades.
The UWF College of health was created in 2015 when the university restructured its colleges, and it’s only the second time that a college is being rechristened to honor benefactor who has gifted the university $5 million or more. In January 2016, it was announced that Hal Marcus, also a resident of Pensacola and a leading textile management entrepreneur, gifted the university $5 million creating the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering.
At the official inauguration of the renamed college on March 22, during which there was also an unveiling of her portrait, Dr. Kundu said, she was elated to make the gift along with her husband to a public university in Pensacola “where we’ve lived for more than half our life.”
“We’ve worked very hard and did very well, and now we thought, it’s time to give back to the community,” she said, and added, “health and education was always on the top of our list, because I’m a health care provider. We have made many investments, but we felt genuinely that this is best investment we have ever made in our life.”
Dr. Kundu said the university's reputation as an educational institution and its role in the community were what prompted the couple's decision of where to donate, and hoped that their gift would envisage students to remain in the Pensacola region as professional health care providers.
“We hope with this help, students will be well-trained and well-skilled to get jobs in this community,” she said.
Dr. Kundu grew up in rural Bihar, and graduated from the Rajendra Medical College at Ranchi University in 1969 before she immigrated to the United States to complete her residency in obstetrics and gynecology. She opened her private practice in Pensacola in 1983, becoming the first female and the first OB-GYN practitioner in western most city in the Florida panhandle and was affiliated with Sacred Heart Hospital, Baptist Hospital and West Florida Hospital.
Her husband, Mahadeb Kundu, is a retired structural engineer, who earned his Master of Business Administration from UWF in 1992 and served as an adjunct professor for the University of West Florida from 1984-86.
The Kundus’ gift will fund three primary areas -- academics, faculty support and the college's educational technology, and includes opportunities for students to attend medical conferences or study abroad. Professors will receive training to stay apprised of on-going trends and developments in health care, and the university also will utilize the donation for purchases on state-of-the-art instruments, such as simulation cadavers for student-training that does not require actual cadavers.
Dr. Martha Saunders, the president of UWF, said, “This incredibly generous and forward-looking transformational gift will enhance our ability to provide the very best health care education for years to come,” and predicted, “a gift of this size will have an exponential impact of what we can do.”
“I expect great things from the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health,” she said.
The new dean of the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health, Dr. Denise M. Seabert, said she planned to focus on enhancing the college’s already well-established programs and strengthen its role in community health throughout the Pensacola region.
Dr. Kundu said that “after UWF appointed very strong leaders like Dr. Martha Saunders as president, Dr. Howard Reddy, a very good friend of ours and now vice president of university advancement, and Dr. Denise Seabert as dean of the College of Health, everything fell into place.”
Asked how it all came about and what prompted her and her husband to make this major gift to UWF, Dr. Kundu told India Abroad, “We were looking for an organization to donate to where there would be tangible and meaningful impact and then a mutual friend, Dr. Subhash Bagui, a distinguished professor at UWF in mathematics and statistics, took the initiative and took us to meet the university president Dr. Saunders and the founding chairman and other senior people and we were extremely happy when everything clicked and we were all on the same page regarding our vision.”
Besides wanting to make the donation to a small public university, instead of a big Ivy League college “that have big incomes and resources and endowments that they can get from different places,” Dr. Kundu said, “I’ve lived here in Pensacola for so long and it’s such a nice community and I am so grateful to this community and this is my home. So, my first priority is to my home and this place needed help and since health and education has always been my passion, UWF seemed to be the right place to invest.”
She said she would be retiring from her practice soon and intended to be “actively engaged with the program,” at the college that bears her name.
Mahadeb Kundu told India Abroad that he was totally in sync with his wife decision from the get go “when she was talking about charitable work for a long time and we wanted to do something where it would be most effective and would benefit the community where we’ve lived the greater part of our lives.”