Philanthropist Carol Lalani to receive honorary doctorate

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Bozeman native a strong supports of the arts

By Diana Setterberg

Humanitarian and philanthropist Carol Glenn Lalani will receive an honorary doctorate in arts from Montana State University during the university’s spring commencement.

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Lalani was born in Bozeman and raised in Livingston. She graduated from the University of Montana and embarked on an international banking career while never losing sight of her devotion to humanitarian causes.

Using her expertise in international finance, Lalani has helped women overseas access capital to set up small businesses. As a member of the Federation of American Women’s Clubs, Lalani has made significant contributions to projects that provide critical assistance for Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan. Closer to home, she has supported HAVEN, a Bozeman nonprofit dedicated to preventing and working with survivors of domestic violence, and she is a member of the Gallatin County Human Trafficking Task Force, a community group created to combat and prevent human trafficking in Gallatin County.

Lalani and her husband, Sal, who live in Bozeman, have been active supporters of MSU programs and students, funding a presidential scholarship for a Native American student at MSU and supporting the Museum of the Rockies, MSU’s School of Music and the MSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

The Lalanis helped build wells at elementary schools in Kenya, strategically located so that girls – who are the water carriers for their communities – would have a reason to go to school and become educated, in turn contributing to community prosperity.

In addition to supporting women’s education in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, Lalani has annually supported two orphan students enrolled in the Starehe Centre and School in Nairobi, Kenya, which originally was founded as a rescue center for boys and has since expanded its education to girls and children from more diverse backgrounds. The school is known for its high academic standards and commitment to instilling a strong service ethic in its students.

Lalani’s interest in education for African children dates back decades, as described in a letter of support of her nomination by a longtime acquaintance and Kenya native, Harshad Topiwala.

“I have known Carol since her first visit to Kenya more than 40 years ago,” he wrote, explaining that during Lalani’s first visit to Kenya, she questioned Topiwala’s physician father about access to schooling and medical treatment for poor African children.

“Carol offers much more than sympathy,” Topiwala wrote. “She has always been strongly motivated to ‘roll up her sleeves’ to help underprivileged children so that they have access to education and fulfilling job opportunities.”

Lalani and her husband have been strong supporters of the arts in Montana, contributing to organizations including the Bozeman Symphony, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Intermountain Opera Company, Montana Chamber Music Society and the President’s Fine Arts Series at MSU. They also – in what is described in nomination materials as “their most transformative gift to our state” – founded the Shane Lalani Center for the Arts in Livingston.

Named for their late son, the center has become the heart of cultural life in Livingston and southwest Montana, drawing audiences from all over Montana. Productions at what has come to be known as the “Shane” feature local singers and musicians along with professional artists.

Lalani and her husband received the 2016 Honorary Alumni Award from the MSU Honors College, and she has served on the College of Arts and Architecture Advisory Council since it was formed in 2017.

Robyn Jones, founder of Goosehead Insurance and benefactor of MSU’s Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing that is named for her and her husband, will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters at the May 12 commencement ceremonies.

For more information about MSU’s spring commencement, visit



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