Academy Honors Tang Scholars and Their Benefactor
April 26, 2007
— Alan Wesson ’07 described himself as “one of the 19 students who blew into Andover thanks to Katrina” and said he felt like he had “stepped into a dream,” a dream that now includes admission to Yale in the fall.
Danny Silk ’07 said coming to Andover “was the best decision he ever made.” A long litany of experiences for which he was grateful included the time he was walking to a concert in the chapel but got kidnapped by a busload of students to go swing dancing at a local nursing home; spending more hours of the day in the theater than anywhere else—combined; 3 A.M. calculus study sessions; and “beginning the night with a group of strangers and ending it with friends.”
Iris Chang ’09 noted that her “favorite part of every Phillips Academy year was boy’s crew” for which she serves as the petite but leather-lunged coxswain, and shared her excitement about traveling to Italy this spring with the Andover Chamber Orchestra.
Henry Yin ’07 told the story, which he called “almost supernatural,” of his first encounter with Andover, when he had to negotiate his way past security at the last minute into an event in Beijing hosted by Dean of Admission Jane Fried. That encounter, he said, led to “the most enjoyable and productive years of his life.”
The speakers at Wednesday’s Tang Scholars dinner, held in Abbot Hall, were selected from the 14 current students who hold the honor. Each ended with very similar sentiments. “Thank you, Mr. Tang, for your wonderful generosity,” for “allowing me to take the Andover challenge,” for “letting me have the time of my life!”
Mr. Oscar L. Tang ’56, president of the Academy’s Board of Trustees and the most generous individual donor in the history of the school, smiled modestly but with obvious pride in his scholars. “You are so much more talented than I ever was,” he said, “and it is so rewarding for me to read and hear about your achievements.” Tang established the Tang Scholarships in 2002 with an endowment to identify and benefit “students with talent who would throw themselves into what the school has to offer, and use it to achieve something important. This is what I hope from you,” he said in brief remarks to close the evening. Since the program’s inception in 2002, Tang Scholarships have been awarded to 30 students.
Tang said he was motivated by his own experience of being forced out of China in the 1940’s at age 11 with his family. He and his family found their way to the United States, and he to Phillips Academy for high school, still developing his fluency in English. Andover, he said, “provided a platform and an opportunity for me to achieve my true potential, and now I am trying to do my part to give something back.” A successful investor, Tang has a long history of service and generosity to his alma mater.
Head of School Barbara Landis Chase used the metaphor of a “bridge builder” to describe Tang, an engineer by training. She cited three examples of his efforts: “He has been very supportive of outreach which furthers the Andover mission of being a private school with a public purpose,” he has “pushed us to become more global in our view,” and he has “built a powerful intergenerational bridge to students.