RISD Welcomes $1M Gift

RISD is pleased to announce the receipt of the single largest gift ever from an international donor: $1 million to create an endowed fund in support of the Vikram and Geetanjali Kirloskar Visiting Scholar in Painting. Visiting artists, designers and scholars have long played a vital role in contributing to the vibrant educational exchange on campus, but this gift marks the first time in RISD’s history that the college is able to establish an endowed fund dedicated to supporting a visiting scholar.

“We are particularly excited because this generous gift aligns so well with the academic initiatives set forth in RISD’s Strategic Plan,” notes Provost Rosanne Somerson 76 ID. “Influenced by their knowledge of Painting Professor Dennis Congdon 75 PT, the Kirloskars created this opportunity to recognize teaching excellence at RISD. Professor Congdon made a profound impact on the artistic development of his student Manasi Kirloskar 12 PT, inspiring the family to express its gratitude through this endowment.”

The new Kirloskar Visiting Scholar endowment highlights RISD’s growing emphasis on global engagement and positions the Painting department to further that commitment by attracting visiting artists and scholars from India or the US who have strong connection to Indian culture. This will not only serve its expanding international student population well, but will reinforce RISD’s long-time commitment to educating global citizens from every culture and background.

“With the support of the Kirloskars, the RISD community just got much bigger,” notes Professor Congdon. “The Painting department is so very grateful for their generosity because it gives us an opportunity to bring together artists who began their individual and collective search for voice continents apart. This will add new dimension to the studio experience at RISD.”

As the Kirloskars were celebrating their daughter's graduation from RISD last spring, they realized they were very moved by her four-year experience at one of the world's top art schools. “We were happy with Manasi's progress at RISD for many reasons,” notes Vikram Kirloskar, “but to our mind the most important thing she learned was to think openly and creatively. It was an attribute she already had, but RISD helped add a certain amount of process discipline and work management, which were valuable additions. The constant critiques and an intense demand for high quality work have taught her to look closely at details.”

Given the distance between their home in Bangalore and RISD’s campus in Providence, the Kirloskars were also heartened that their daughter spoke so favorably about the deep care, support and extraordinary encouragement she received from her teachers every step of the way. Their gift to the Painting department will ensure that future generations of students benefit from experiences at RISD as rewarding as Manasi's, while also offering students from the US and abroad meaningful exposure to Indian art and culture.

“This gift speaks both to the power of RISD’s image throughout the world and to the impact of our extraordinary faculty,” notes RISD President John Maeda. “In the interest of encouraging strong relationships with regional partners around the world, we are especially grateful to the Kirloskar family for recognizing Professor Congdon, the Painting department and the entire RISD community, since everyone on campus will benefit from their extraordinary gift.”