Trustee Oscar Tang ’56 Sponsors Summer Faculty Trip to China

Having fled war-torn China as a child, Phillips Academy Charter Trustee Oscar Tang ’56 has achieved phenomenal success in the business world and become the school’s largest alumnus contributor. Mr. Tang has donated more than $15 million to the school over the last several years and sponsored a summer trip to China for 17 faculty members. In addition, Mr. Tang donated $5 million to renovate Abbot Academy in 1992 and $10 million to the $208.9 million Campaign Andover in 1998. He also financed the building of the Tang Theater and recently sponsored the Trisha Brown: Dance and Art in Dialogue exhibit in conjunction with the Tang Teaching Museum and the Art Gallery at Skidmore College. Explaining his motivation for donating to the Academy, Mr. Tang reflected, “My first gifts focused on my late wife’s interest in preserving and rebuilding Abbot campus. Since then, I have focused on the general needs of the school, such as financial aid.” Mr. Tang continued, “Andover really made all the difference in the world in my life in terms of integrating me into America,” Mr. Tang said. “It provided me with a platform to have a fulfilling life in a new country. Andover was absolutely critical in making my transformation to this country positive.” Besides his philanthropy at Andover, Mr. Tang has also combined his interest in Asian culture with his love of art to provide donations to other organizations. “It is important to me that Americans learn more about Chinese civilization and culture,” Mr. Tang said. “If you look at China now and think about ten or 20 years from now, it is a society that Americans will need to understand.” Mr. Tang views philanthropy as a means to further that goal as well as to affirm his own assimilation into American culture. A connoisseur of fine art, he is an active member of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Six years ago, he gave an estimated $14 million dollars to the Museum to allow it to overhaul its Asian galleries. Mr. Tang also contributed greatly to Princeton University’s P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for Chinese and Japanese Art. Born in Shanghai in the late 1930s, Mr. Tang came to the United States in 1949. Because his family endorsed the beliefs of the Nationalist party, he and his parents fled to Vermont to escape the Communist revolution. Mr. Tang arrived in America at age 11 with a limited command of English, but quickly impressed his teachers with his diligent work ethic and intelligence. After several years at the Rectory School in Connecticut, Mr. Tang transferred to the Academy. He then went on to earn an engineering degree from Yale University in 1960 and a degree from Harvard Business School. After years of working on Wall Street, he co-founded the asset-management firm Reich & Tang. Despite his success, Mr. Tang still maintains a deep loyalty to the Academy and estimates that he spends 15% of his time on Andover-related matters. As treasurer of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Tang serves as the chairman of the Finance Committee, which reviews the financial operations of the school and approves the annual budget. He also oversees the investment committee and handles the management of the school’s endowment. “The stock market has had a very long favorable run which benefited the endowment tremendously,” Mr. Tang said. “The last two and a half years, the markets have been sharply down and we’ve given back our gains. The investment climate has been much more challenging, making our jobs more labor intensive.” Mr. Tang donated the funds to send Andover faculty members to China this summer to permit them to learn about the culture and strengthen Andover’s partnership with other schools. The teachers will tour the country for three weeks, visiting schools in Shanghai and Beijing. Highlights of the trip will include a trip to the Dun Huang cave, a tour of the world’s largest dam, and a visit to Lama temples in Tibet. A larger group of faculty members made a similar trip in 1991, but the Chinese social, economic, and educational systems have changed greatly since then. “China has changed so much,” Head of the Chinese Department Dr. Yuan Han said, “The teachers who went on the [previous] trip on ’91 need to refresh their concept of China.” Mr. Tang reminded students to appreciate their time at Andover, stating, “I hope that you will absorb the culture and get the most out of your education with the expectation of doing as much as you can with your natural potential. Then, the desire to give back and the ‘non sibi’ concept will take over when you have the opportunity to do so.”