The Amit Bhatia Libe Café
On a visit to campus one snowy day last March, Amit Bhatia '01 brought his wife, Vanisha, and two toddlers to introduce them to his old haunts. "My time at Cornell was probably the best four years of my life," says the 32-year-old founder of Swordfish Investments, a private equities and capital management company in England. Bhatia proudly led his family from one deserted campus landmark to the next. It was a holiday and students were nowhere to be seen, but the stillness did not dampen his excitement at being back.
Bhatia stands out as one of Cornell's youngest donors to endow a scholarship, the Amit Bhatia Scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences, which he established in 2007 at the age of 28. Every year the university sends Bhatia (and all donors who endow scholarships) reports on the students supported by his gift. The reports, he explains, have opened his eyes to the impact philanthropy can have on individuals.
Last fall Bhatia decided to make a new gift, this time to the library. According to University Librarian Anne Kenney, Bhatia's was among the four largest gifts to the library last year.
In recognition of his support, a prominent gathering space on campus, Libe Café in Olin Library, was renamed the Amit Bhatia Libe Café.
"We are using his support to maintain the popular and lively café," explains Kenney, "and to build first-rate research collections that continue to bring scholars and students to Cornell every year. Recently, a student defined the library as the place where 'great minds think together.' The Amit Bhatia Libe Café offers wonderful space for great minds to meet."
Meeting and building relationships with fellow Cornellians is what drew Bhatia to the university in the first place. "I was lucky enough to be accepted to four or five Ivy League universities," he remembers, "and I chose Cornell because of its campus. I always loved the common spaces, which bred harmony amongst us."
Although his financial support for his alma mater is uncommon for someone his age, Bhatia believes that every Cornellian can feel the same satisfaction from philanthropy that he does. On his next campus visit, he hopes to organize a fundraising discussion with his friends and classmates at The Nines in Collegetown.
"Maybe a group can give back as a group. I was in Mary Donlan Hall, and we had a great bond, so maybe we could give back as a group or a floor," he says.