Blessed in Many Ways

C.J. Alexander, Madras Christian College Alumnus

Dr. C.J. Alexander

C.J. Alexander received his PhD in chemistry at the University of New Orleans in 1974, and soon faced a difficult decision. Should he return to Madras Christian College (MCC), his academic home? Or should he accept a position in the United States? Dr. Alexander ultimately decided to remain in the United States, after careful consideration of career opportunities for himself and his wife and the needs of their family. “But I still had a desire to help Madras Christian College,” he said. “After all, I had been there for six years as a student and five years as a lecturer.”

Dr. Alexander was inspired by I.M. Mathai, a long-time member of the chemistry faculty at MCC. As chemists, they shared professional interests and, since they were from the same ethnic group and the same church, they had a cultural affinity as well. “Dr. Mathai was someone I appreciated,” Dr. Alexander explained. “He had opportunities to go work at other colleges, but he was dedicated to Madras Christian College.” The two men remained in touch over the years, and in 2002, Dr. Alexander spent a day visiting Dr. Mathai at his home in Chennai. Sadly, a few days later, Dr. Mathai unexpectedly suffered a stroke and died.

The late Prof. I.M. Mathai and his wife, Prof. Achamma Mathai.

Dr. Alexander learned that Mrs. Mathai and the family planned to set up an endowment in Dr. Mathai’s memory, which would support the chemistry department, the women’s studies program, and scholarships at MCC. He, too, wanted to honor his professor, so he suggested reaching out to U.S.-based alumni for contributions. He knew Joe Sprunger, who then served as the United Board’s director of foundation relations, through a family connection, and contacted him about setting up a U.S.-based endowment to support scholarships at MCC. Dr. Alexander and his wife made a generous donation to establish the endowment, stewarded by the United Board, and he encourages other MCC alumni in the United States to also contribute.

Gratitude propelled Dr. Alexander and his wife to make their gift. “We have been blessed in many ways,” he said. Like many people of Indian origin residing in the United States, they often help family in India and make gifts to support the church in their home village. But Dr. Alexander encourages alumni of MCC and other Indian institutions to remember their alma maters as well. “Indian colleges, especially Christian colleges, need support now,” he said. “We have been lucky in the way we have been able to live here in the United States. “Think of the education we received and what we have been able to do – that rests on our college education.”

Dr. Alexander expresses his appreciation to the late Candy Eng, who served as the United Board’s interim president (July 2010 – January 2011) and vice president for finance and administration (1998-2008), for her special attention to the I.M. Mathai Memorial Fund.

To contribute to the I.M. Mathai Memorial Fund, or to learn more about establishing an endowment at the United Board, please contact Trudy Loo by email (tloo@unitedboard.org) or phone (1.212.870.2600).