Phillips Academy Receives Record $25 Million Gift
February 06, 2008
— Barbara Landis Chase, Phillips Academy head of school, announced today that alumnus Oscar L. Tang has made a $25 million gift to the Academy. This, the largest gift in the 230-year history of the school, will support several strategic initiatives, including need-blind admission for students across the economic spectrum. President of the Phillips Academy board of trustees, Tang, a private investor in New York, made the generous gift to his alma mater during the winter trustees’ meeting at the school.
One of the most significant reasons for his decision at this time, said Tang, is to provide philanthropic leadership in all aspects of Andover’s Strategic Plan, especially as the school moves toward fulfillment of its need-blind admission policy. “This bold initiative is about providing access and opportunity for the most qualified students,” said Tang. “This has been a dream of so many for so long, and one in which Andover has long held a leadership position.”
Trustees adopted the need-blind goal, which allows Phillips Academy to accept the most highly qualified and deserving students without regard to family income, in its 2004 Strategic Plan.
Tang has asked that his gift be used to spearhead a challenge to inspire others to support key priorities of the Strategic Plan—to expand access for the most qualified students without regard to ability to pay, to support students with rigorous academic preparation, and to continue to attract and develop a diverse and highly qualified faculty.
A Chinese immigrant on the run from the Communist takeover of Shanghai, Tang first set foot on American soil at the age of 11 knowing no English. He found himself a few years later, barely fluent, at Phillips Academy.
Today he has once again chosen to honor the school he says was his springboard to success in his new country. Tang’s gift brings his total financial commitment to Andover to more than $40 million.
“I have known Oscar for more than a decade, and his extraordinary generosity, wisdom and vision continue to amaze me,” said Chase. “His profound commitment to faculty and students, and his desire to provide greater access to a Phillips Academy education, will have lasting and far-reaching effects.”
Phillips Academy has long embraced diversity—cultural, racial, socioeconomic, and geographic—as a central tenet of academic excellence and as a moral imperative.
During the winter trustees’ meeting last weekend, Chase also announced that Tang would serve as chairman of the upcoming fund-raising campaign, which is in the planning stages and will be launched next year.
Tang said he is especially impressed by the school’s work on outreach programs. “We are privileged, but the obligation of that privilege is to serve a greater good,” he added. As a “private school with a public purpose,” Phillips Academy offers four outreach programs for public school students and teachers, and last summer launched a new program to prepare bright students from schools with varying standards for an Andover education.
While the details of his most recent gift are still being worked out, it also includes $6 million for the restoration and expansion of the Addison Gallery of American Art set to begin this July. Tang’s wife, Argie Ligeros, serves on the Addison board of governors.
After graduating from Andover in 1956, Tang went on to Yale, then Harvard Business School. He co-founded and was CEO of the Wall Street investment firm of Reich and Tang, and continues to be a private investor in New York. He has given generously to other educational institutions affiliated with members of his family, as well as Chinese-American, cultural, art and other institutions. In addition to his leadership of Andover’s board, he also serves on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Skidmore College.
A deep commitment to education and gratitude for the opportunities in his own life are hallmarks of Tang’s history with Phillips Academy. His gifts to Andover are numerous and diverse. Among them are: $5 million to restore Draper Hall and Abbot Circle on the former Abbot Academy campus in 1992, then the Tang Theatre in honor of his late wife, Frances Young Tang, who graduated from Abbot Academy in 1957; development grants that have sent faculty on several study trips to China; and $10 million to endow the Tang Scholars Program in 2002 through which, to date, 32 of the most talented students with limited resources have been afforded access to Andover