Alumnus Imran Khan Creates Opportunity Through Scholarship Gift
"Investing in scholarships is investing in the future," says Imran Khan (BSBA '00), of his recent $1.25 million gift to the University of Denver to support student scholarships.
Khan, a DU alumnus and CEO of Verishop, made the transformational gift because of the lasting impact that scholarships have on students — who will be known as Khan Family Scholars — and on the University of Denver itself. “Scholarships meet students’ current financial need, giving them opportunities to receive a first-class education and jump-start their careers,” Khan says. “They also enrich the college experience for all DU students, allowing the University to recruit the best and brightest from a talented and diverse pool of students.” Khan added that the need for such opportunities is particularly strong now with the COVID-19 pandemic and the socioeconomic challenges it has brought.
“The University is grateful to Imran for establishing the Khan Family Scholars at the University of Denver,” says Chancellor Jeremy Haefner. “It is especially meaningful when our alumni invest, as Imran has, in the University. He has experienced first-hand DU’s commitment to ensuring our students’ success, and now, he will play an integral role in upholding that commitment and increasing access to a DU education.”
A native of Bangladesh who came to the United States to attend DU, Khan says that much of who he is today, both professionally and personally, is because of his experience at DU. The academic landscape at DU, he says, gave him a deep understanding of concepts like finance that would play a significant role in his career. “I didn’t even know that Wall Street existed before coming to DU,” Khan says, who later made a name for himself on that very street.
The friendships he made as a student remain some of his closest to this day, and he notes that scholarships enabled many of those individuals to attend DU. “I learned from so many of those friends, and my experience was enriched because they were there,” he says. The diversity of the Denver community and the sense of welcome he felt arriving in Colorado were important elements of his ability to adjust to the new culture and weather — he had never seen snow before — when he started his life in the U.S.
After college, Khan built a career in finance, becoming one of the youngest JPMorgan managing directors at the age of 29. He later moved to Credit Suisse’s Internet banking franchise, where he worked on some of the biggest tech IPOs. In 2014, he led the Alibaba Group’s IPO, the largest share sale ever. He later became the chief strategy officer of Snap Inc., the parent company of the messaging app Snapchat.
Most recently, Khan and his wife, Cate, co-founded Verishop, an e-commerce company that merges industry-leading technology and retail to create a shopping destination that both shoppers and brands can count on. Cate is a former VP of retail at Amazon, and this project brings together the couple’s professional expertise and personal passion.
Khan’s recent gift to the University carries forward that passion; he made the donation by transferring limited partner shares in Proem, an investment fund for which he is the co-founder and CEO. So the more he grows the fund, the more it will benefit DU and ultimately the students who receive scholarships.
This gift extends Khan’s significant involvement with the University. Over the past several years, he has been honored as a distinguished alumnus at Alumni Weekend, participated in Denver Startup Week, and spoke at graduate commencement ceremonies, where he received his honorary doctorate from DU. Most recently, Khan joined the University’s Board of Trustees. “This is my first year on the Board, and I am looking forward to learning from this incredible group of trustees and contributing in any way I can,” he says.
He hopes that others will join him in supporting scholarships and other ways to expand access and affordability of a DU education. “Giving is very important, primarily in an environment like this. There is so much inequality in many ways, and it’s important that people who are privileged share some of their success with others. I’m grateful to have this opportunity. Creating positive change takes the involvement of a lot of people, so I hope others will offer their support as well.”