“I think Shamkant and I could see something of ourselves in the Caldwell students we met,” Dr. Ujwala Mulgaonkar says, explaining how she and her husband became involved with Caldwell University.
Ujwala and her husband, the late Dr. Shamkant Mulgaonkar, came to the United States from India 40 years ago and settled in West Caldwell. “We were so busy then,” she recalls. “I was starting my career as a pediatrician, and Shamkant was building his practice.”
Shamkant built more than a practice; he built a legacy. He was one of the preeminent professionals in transplantation in the United States and was instrumental in the rapid growth of the surgery. A champion of the development of the
Living Donor Transplant Institute, he was a dynamic leader who cared for thousands of kidney transplant recipients during his career.
Shamkant was largely responsible for the success of the RWJ Barnabas Health Renal and Pancreas Transplant Division, which became one of the most highly regarded programs in the country. He was a past president of the Transplant Society of New Jersey and was twice named New Jersey Transplant Professional of the Year. He was also named Transplant Physician of the Year in 1996. His major research interests included transplant immunology, clinical trials of newer immunosuppressants, and allograft thrombosis. He led clinical research trials in the use of many novel immunosuppressants and published over 100 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. Shamkant was a member of several professional societies including the American Society of Nephrology, the American Medical Association, the Renal Physicians Association, the Transplant Society of New Jersey and the United Network for Organ Sharing. He was also on the advisory board of the New Jersey Organ and Tissue Sharing Network.
Shamkant began looking for ways to share his expertise with the next generation of health care providers, which led him to become a guest lecturer for Caldwell University’s School of Nursing and Public Health.
“Shamkant and I received such a warm welcome from the Caldwell University community,” Ujwala says. “We couldn’t believe that for so many years we had this beautiful campus right in our own backyard. We fell in love with it!” Shamkant’s lectures were very well received and he enjoyed meeting the students.
As they got to know the nursing students who regularly attended Shamkant’s lectures, the couple began to think they could do something more. “We had always believed in the value of scholarships,” Ujwala says. “It is important to invest in people and to support and reward excellence.” The couple had traditionally invested in scholarships for students in India. After learning more about Caldwell, the couple decided to invest in scholarships at the university as a way to support college students in their local area.
They began their journey as donors with a special gift to help an international student who was experiencing financial hardship. This led to a larger pledge for scholarships for nursing students. “Shamkant and I realized that both of us had worked with wonderful Caldwell-educated nurses over the course of our careers. We wanted to invest in their success,” Ujwala says.
Shamkant passed away in early 2019. His loss is mourned by his family, friends and colleagues and also by the students, faculty and staff at Caldwell who looked forward to his campus visits. He holds a special place in the hearts
of many in the campus community.
Ujwala plans to continue supporting Caldwell as a way to honor Shamkant’s memory. She recently committed to a multiyear pledge to establish an endowed scholarship for nursing students in Shamkant’s name. “He stood for
excellence in education. This is what Caldwell provides.”