Alumni endow funds for international student aid

Martin Tang

The Martin Y. Tang International Scholarship Challenge has raised $4.39 million in endowment gifts from 12 families. Martin Tang ’70 gave $1.46 million in matching funds for the challenge, which resulted in a 19 percent increase in scholarship support for undergraduate international students at Cornell and support for five graduate fellowships.

“Cornell is deeply grateful,” says Charlie Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development, “for Martin’s extraordinary leadership and for the donors’ generosity and commitment in support of international students who otherwise could not attend Cornell.”

The Tang Challenge was conceived to establish 12 new $1 million undergraduate scholarships. Once the challenge was launched, the 1:3 match was extended to include the graduate and professional schools, where so many international students study at Cornell, thus enhancing the overall impact of this initiative.

“When I came to Cornell in 1966,” Tang recalls, “there were three kids from Hong Kong, including a guy from a prep school in New Hampshire. Just three of us. You never saw anybody from the [Chinese] mainland. Now there are many Asian students on campus, including my own son [Christopher Tang ’07].”

“I’ve made new friends,” says Tang of his work on the challenge, “and together with the old friends who have supported this cause, the thing we all have in common is a deep belief that Cornell should attract the best and brightest from around the world.”

When Tang launched his challenge-match fundraising campaign in 2008, just over 50 scholarships were allocated for international student aid. Post-challenge, there are 67 such scholarships

A College of Engineering graduate, Tang was elected trustee emeritus and Presidential Councillor in 2010, having been the longest-serving international trustee on the Cornell Board of Trustees with 16 years of service. In 2012, President David Skorton asked Tang to head a recently formed Cornell internationalization advisory group and help shape Cornell’s international strategy.

Tang has long been a champion of international scholarships. He funded nine prior to this challenge, and co-funded scholarships for the Cornell Clubs of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Of the 12 families or individuals who made gifts to the Tang Challenge, more than half were once international students themselves. They are: Cornell University Council member Alexander Levitan ’59 and Lucy Levitan of Minneapolis; Alok ’86, MBA ’87, and Majini ’85 Oberoi of England; Christian Bergmann ’86 of London; Mei-Wei Cheng ’72 of Beijing; Carlos Quintanilla, MBA ’80, of Mexico; Cornell trustee William Perez ’69 of Chicago; Cornell University Council member Carol Rattray ’78 of New York; Johnny ’81, M.Eng. ’82, and Juliana Fung, of Toronto and Hong Kong; Steven Shindler, MBA ’87, and Mary Kay Kosnik, MBA ’88, of Connecticut; Felipe Garza, MBA ’80, of Mexico; Randall Chafetz, MBA ’85, of New York; and Rajeev Bhaman ’86, MBA ’88, of New York.

Emily Sanders Hopkins is a writer for Alumni Affairs and Development.

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