Q&A With Oscar Tang

**What prompted you to donate $15 million to the base grant for the Tang Institute?**

I think that [Andover has] worked a lot on the whole idea of access. The need-blind initiative, where we admit students without regard to their financial need and so forth, is one example. That addresses access to the basic residential program, but we are a very privileged institution in terms of the program we have here and the wealth of intellectual talent that the faculty possesses.

I think it’s important that we make that available to not only ourselves but to others in the country [and] in the world. And, in so doing, we’ll gain so much back in terms of what we also learn from outside, and I think that will also improve our own program. So it’s a combination of what it will do for us but also the obligation to make what we have available to the rest of the world.

Many of these ideas have been in the works for many years at Andover, but, until [Head of School] John Palfrey came in, we couldn’t quite get them all put together into this initiative, and so I’m really excited that this is happening now. I think that the changes in technology and in the whole globalization that’s going on provide us with a great opportunity to have really tremendous impact.

**How will the Tang Institute plan on making what we have available at Andover available to other students?**

I’ll give you an example of an old outreach program: MS2. [That] is really pedagogy that we have had for a long time, which we have made available to talented students from really disadvantaged schools.

[Andover is] experimenting with improving the program using technology to stay in touch with these students during the regular school year, as opposed to when they are here for the three summers. We’re also exploring through the Tang Institute whether this can be scaled up in other ways.

That’s an old program, but the new ideas — for example, what we’re doing with the Khan Academy, where we’re basically supplying the curriculum and all the exercise problems of the BC Calculus curriculum for Khan Academy, where these are being used by hundreds of thousands of students all over the world — are beginning explorations.

Another part of the Tang Institute is really the goal of the school that each student here should have an equal opportunity to participate in one of the “Learning in the World” programs, such as Niswarth or programs in South Africa, Brazil, China, etc.

This is a very costly effort because it’s also our philosophy that, if we make this part of the regular curriculum, we must provide the support for many of the students who otherwise would not be able to take advantage of such a program, so that is a goal. I don’t know if we can get there, but that will be part of the Tang Institute as well.


[Read more on _The Phillipian_’s coverage of the Tang Institute.](