HomeAmericasPeopleGanpat Patel Of Cherokee – American Dream With An Indian Heart

Ganpat Patel Of Cherokee – American Dream With An Indian Heart

Ganpat Patel Of Cherokee – American Dream With An Indian Heart

Ganpat Patel Of Cherokee – American Dream With An Indian Heart

By Daniel E Montplaisir

Indian Prime Minister Modi said in 2014, “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” In that quote is the life of Ganpat I. Patel, a man whose journey from the humble village of Bhunav in North Gujarat, led him to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Affectionately known as Pat, he is the embodiment of the American dream with an Indian heart. The son of Ishwarbhai and Menaben Patel from the Patidar community, Ganpat inherited not just his family’s roots but also a profound belief in the idea of social upliftment through education.

After getting a degree in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona in 1969, little did he know that his hands-on educational experience would pave the way for a groundbreaking career.  Armed with a vision and assisted by his wife Manju, Ganpat founded Cherokee International in 1978, a power supply company that started on the kitchen table in Mission Viejo, CA.

Under Ganpat’s guidance, Cherokee grew into a formidable force in the power supply industry, forging partnerships with tech giants like IBM, CISCO, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard. The company’s influence extended globally, with manufacturing facilities in the United States, India, Belgium, and Mexico.

After selling his business and understanding the lack of educational opportunities for rural students, Ganpat shifted his entrepreneurial spirit and passion to education. Along with close friends from North Gujarat and other NRI donors, they purchased 270 acres of land 30 miles outside of a growing Ahmedabad.

Today, Ganpat University serves 18,000 students and stands out as an exemplar for other private universities in India. What surprises visitors to the lush green campus, besides 50,000 trees, is its commitment to international standards, from modern classrooms to specialized research centers. It houses the first national center in 3D Additive Manufacturing, the 5G Research Center, India’s first 360-degree Maritime Simulator, the Japanese-India Institute for Manufacturing, and a fully operational pharmaceutical production facility. Its unique model of “industry in the university” and “university in the industry” has opened doors to collaborations with firms like, Stratasys, Maruti-Suzuki, Tata Motors, E-Infochips-an Arrow Company, Tata Consulting Services, IBM, SAS, and Bosch.

The unique emphasis on quality reflects Ganpat’s dedication to creating an educational ecosystem that rivals the finest institutions worldwide. “My dream is to create a university with the heart of India’s historic Nalanda and the research and entrepreneurial spirit of Stanford.” Ganpat shared, “Given the right tools and educational opportunities, I have no doubt that young students in India can compete at the highest levels globally.”

In 2019, the Government of India acknowledged his selfless contributions with the Padma Shri. In 2021, he was conferred an honorary doctorate by Cal Poly Pomona.

In addition to the University, Ganpat has founded and guided the Smt. M G Patel Sainik School for Girls, and the Ganpat and Manju Engineering Center for International Collaboration and Innovation at Cal Poly Pomona.

Ganpat’s has donated over 150 crores of Indian rupees worldwide, supporting various educational endeavors. As a hands-on and visionary leader, he isn’t just satisfied with personal success but is actively involved in supporting the Ganpat Voluntary Teaching Movement, which has adopted eight villages in North Gujarat. “Exposing students to the everyday challenges faced by families in these small villages is a powerful lesson that will shape who they are and how they choose to give back to help others,” he believes.

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