June 14, 2022

Celebrating 20 Years of Tang Scholars

Alumni pay tribute to Oscar Tang ’56 by continuing his non sibi legacy

Paige Busse ’19 was in the thick of final exams at Wellesley College, but that didn’t stop her from making the trip to Phillips Academy in May to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Tang Scholars Program.

“I had to arrange for a friend to drive me—during a very busy time at school—but that’s how important this was to me,” she says. “I really care about expressing my gratitude, about showing up for Mr. Tang. What he has given to Andover affects students like me for many years after graduation. It’s life changing.”

Across two decades, the program has awarded scholarships to more than 160 talented recipients from around the globe—providing them with tuition assistance, cultural offerings, music lessons, even winter clothing and school supplies. The endeavor is made possible through a leadership gift from former Board of Trustees president Oscar Tang ’56, who, with former head of school Barbara Landis Chase, was instrumental in initiating PA’s landmark need-blind admission policy. To this day, Tang remains a fierce advocate for the importance of endowing financial aid at Andover, a key Knowledge & Goodness campaign priority.

“My late wife, Frances Young Tang ’57, received a full scholarship from Abbot Academy. My financial aid gifts, including for the Tang Scholars, are really from both of us,” says Tang, whose generous influence has positively impacted nearly every corner of campus, from facility improvements and faculty development to the innovative Tang Institute and more. Supporting scholarships, however, is nearest to his heart.

“Financial aid levels the playing field and truly opens this school to youth from every quarter. I believe we need to see Andover as a quintessential American academy, meaning that we must make this scholastic opportunity available to all irrespective of financial wherewithal. It’s a fundamental characteristic I personally felt when I was a student.”

Tang arrived at PA after fleeing China post-WWII. He immediately fell in love with Andover and found his niche in rowing. He recalls physics instructor and acting head of school Peter McKee throwing chalk around his classroom, and the quiet calm of English instructor Joe Dodge. Mostly, he’s never forgotten how it felt to be welcomed on Andover Hill. “I was dropped into this country,” says Tang, “and I marveled at the fact that basically I got into the best that this country had to offer in terms of education. I was privileged to be given that opportunity, and so was my wife.”

I see promise in these young people, and to see that promise fulfilled is so rewarding.

Oscar Tang ’56

With the Tang Scholarship Program, he has made a difference in the lives of so many students who describe “Mr. Tang” as inspirational.

“The extra money from the Tang Scholarship made it possible for me to attend boarding school,” says Busse, who played the organ, sang, and composed while at Andover. “It covered everything, including my music lessons, and I was very grateful. I loved our yearly dinners, where we could meet with Mr. Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang. Hearing him say that he struggled at Andover and then ended up so successful made me feel like I belonged.”

Now some Tang Scholars are honoring their benefactor with their own gifts to the program, creating opportunities for a new generation of students. Alan Wesson Suárez ’07, who came to PA as an upper after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, received a Tang Scholarship his senior year. Like Busse, he feels compelled to help pave the way for future students, giving them a chance to grow and learn as he did.

“It’s hugely important to give!” says Wesson Suárez. “My pockets aren’t nearly as deep as Mr. Tang’s. They might be, one day. But every little bit helps.

“I just want to continue to stay connected and contribute to someone else’s experience, because if there’s one place I really love, it’s Andover. There’s just this feeling there—this kind of love and appreciation. And that’s what I get from Mr. Tang when I interact with him. He has those same feelings.”

For his part, Tang is always thrilled to meet current and former recipients at the program’s annual dinner, including this year’s milestone anniversary. He is touched to see the program flourish and its alumni carrying forward a tradition of giving.

“It’s very heartwarming,” he says, “A lot of my work is dedicated to returning some of the luck I’ve been given. Because it’s been a wonderful life. And to see alumni take up the torch to ensure equal opportunity for all is magnificent.”

Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, spring 2022.

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