Supporting Student Visions and Voices through a Donor-Advised Fund

Raj Tahil ’81 and Mary Jo Wrenn

Raj Tahil credits MIT for sparking his entrepreneurial instincts. “I learned to see problems as interesting opportunities,” says the president of Torpac Capsules Inc., which specializes in the field of custom capsules and pharmaceutical equipment. In the spirit of creating opportunities, Tahil and his spouse, Mary Jo Wrenn, give generously to student financial aid at the Institute. “I know how much it meant to me to be at MIT,” he says.

When making a planned gift, he chose a donor-advised fund (DAF). DAFs are an increasingly popular way to simplify charitable giving, and in establishing an MIT DAF, Tahil benefits from the management strategies of the MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo) that enable him to keep giving back. “Setting up the DAF with the Office of Gift Planning was simple and quick,” he says. “They work with you to apply the DAF income at MIT in ways that meet your interests.”

The benefits of a DAF.

The DAF option enables the donor to establish a charitable account maintained and managed by MITIMCo, from which distributions may be made to MIT as well as to other charitable organizations. For Tahil and Wrenn, the quickness with which DAF funds may be deployed came into play at a critical time: in the spring of 2020, they made a DAF distribution to the lab of Professor J. Christopher Love, the Raymond A. and Helen E. St. Laurent Chair in Chemical Engineering, to support its work on an affordable Covid-19 vaccine.

Creating opportunities.

The couple gives to a variety of causes at MIT, including the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society—which brings methods from the humanities and social sciences to the understanding of science, technology, and medicine—and MIT programs that support high school students. “I wanted students from less privileged backgrounds to have an opportunity to attend a program at MIT and hopefully apply here or at another university,” he said, describing his support for the Office of Engineering Outreach Programs, whose programs empower middle and high school students to become future scientists and engineers. He has also sponsored the Graduate Program in Science Writing, he says, “because I love to read well-written articles, whatever the subject. It is also important to employ good, clear communication about the ideas and research at MIT so it can make an impact on the world.”

A global view of the environment and health.

After growing up in India and England, Tahil moved to Canada at age 12, where his father taught at Seneca College in Toronto. He recalls attending a lecture there by speakers from MIT, which led to his interest in environmental protection—and in the Institute. In recognition of his parents’ support for his education—particularly that of his mother, who returned to the workforce to finance it—he named the Sheila and Gurmukh Tahil Fund in their honor. The fund supports undergraduate students conducting SuperUROP projects relating to environmental challenges in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

“MIT is contributing to a better world by bringing its holistic, multidisciplinary approach to problems in a large variety of fields.”


The couple’s largest commitment to MIT is a fellowship to support graduate students who are conducting research to improve the environment through scientific, engineering, or public policy solutions. “In a way, it is to make up for my not pursuing a career in environmental engineering after I graduated,” Tahil says, noting how he appreciates MIT’s research regarding the environment and medicine, both of which are directly related to human health. “MIT is contributing to a better world by bringing its holistic, multidisciplinary approach to problems in a large variety of fields.”

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