Tang to Serve as Board President

When he first arrived in Vermont as an 11-year-old Chinese immigrant who spoke little English, Oscar Tang ’56 hardly seemed positioned to become President of the Board of Trustees at one of the nation’s most prestigious boarding schools. But last Friday, he did just that. In their third meeting of the school year, the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees elected Oscar L. Tang ’56 to serve as board president. He will succeed David M. Underwood ’54, who will retire in June after 15 years as president. Mr. Tang, a corporate executive, New York financier, and generous philanthropist, enrolled in Andover during his Lower year before earning an engineering degree from Yale and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. His drive for success, according to Mr. Tang, arose partially from his childhood experiences fleeing Communist China. “When I left China, I knew that the country had been taken over by Communists and was not a place that I could go back to, so my focus was on succeeding in a new country… Andover became a critical opportunity to be able to do that,” he said. After studying at a public middle school in Vermont and the private Rectory School in Connecticut, Mr. Tang matriculated at Phillips Academy when he was 15 years old. “From the moment I saw Andover, I knew that it was the place I aspired to go…Once I was able to get on top of the situation at Andover, I really felt that I could deal with whatever challenges life might bring,” he explained. Mr. Tang began his career at the Wall Street brokerage firm Donaldson, Lufkin, and Jenrette. Only a few years later, he co-founded his own financial firm, Reich and Tang, now a subsidiary of CDC IXIS Asset Management North America. Throughout his career, Tang earned a reputation as a generous philanthropist. Having donated over $15 million to the Academy, Tang remains Andover’s largest single benefactor. In addition, he is a major donor to the Metropolitan Museum of New York, where he serves as a trustee. In 2002, he was elected trustee of Skidmore University, another beneficiary of his financial support. “It’s very rewarding to see my investments in Andover and other institutions bear fruit, allowing youth the opportunity to succeed… It’s very important that we continue to invest for the good of future generations,” Tang remarked. As president, Mr. Tang will evaluate the findings of the strategic planning committee before determining what areas of the school’s life are in need of the most attention. He does not anticipate any drastic changes and hopes to proceed along a path very similar to that of retiring president David Underwood. “David Underwood has done a remarkable job to bring the school to where it is now. The school is in very good shape,” Tang explained. And while the trustee’s demonstrated their confidence in Tang during Saturday’s election, there is no doubt that Underwood, a fixture on the Board of Trustees for 21 years, will be missed. “David Underwood, a brilliant and tireless leader, has kept the highest standards during his 15 year tenure as president and throughout his 21 years of service on the board. The academy owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his hard work, his generosity, and his wise counsel,” Head of School Barbara Landis Chase said in a statement released by the Office of Communications. During his time at Phillips Academy, Mr. Underwood served on both the Development Board and the Alumni Council. Chairing campaign Andover, he commenced the record-breaking fundraising effort with a $10 million donation. As chair of the Search Committee, he oversaw the appointment of Barbara Landis Chase to her present position as head of school. Last year, David Underwood received the Claude Moore Fuess Award, Phillips Academy’s most prestigious honor. The award, established to recognize Andover graduates that have exemplified the spirit of Non Sibi through a dedication to public service, was named in honor of Phillips Academy’s 10th headmaster. Mr. Underwood received the award in celebration of his many years of service both to Andover and to institutions in his home state of Texas. A Houston corporate executive, Mr. Underwood supported education and healthcare in his home-town, serving as a trustee at both the Houston Methodist Hospital and the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical facility. He was also a life member and supporter of the Kinkaid School, where he attended before enrolling in Andover. As Mr. Underwood’s retirement draws nearer, however, Mr. Tang is preparing to assume his new position at the helm of the board. Affirming his dedication to the principles of the Academy and speaking about his predecessor, David Underwood, with deference, Mr. Tang commented, “I approach the position with great humility… I, like Underwood, aspire to the ideals and mission of the school. ‘Youth from every quarter’ – that attitude gave me the opportunity to succeed, and these ideals continue to drive my interest in Andover.”