First-Time Gift, Big Time Impact

Tony Wang

CEO and Founder of Xenon Development Corporation, and a philanthropist at heart, Tony Wang’s (B.S. 1973; M.S. 1975) priority has always been to uplift and empower students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. He created the Wang Kuo Tong Memorial Fellowship Fund at the College of Engineering in honor of his father—a self-made entrepreneur from a humble family, working 16-hour days, seven days a week. In that spirit, Wang wanted hard-working, high-achieving students from Greater China to be able to come to Michigan for further graduate study, regardless of financial status.

Wang looks back fondly on his time as a graduate student, grateful for the companionship he developed with fellow students and support from his mentors, Professors Hosford, Bigelow, Tien, and Leslie. Rackham holds a sentimental memory for Wang as well, as he and his wife Vivian took their first photo together on the front steps of the historic building.

Like many in the Rackham community, Wang knows many graduate students spend years on a shoestring budget and often cannot afford an expected emergency. And as the world navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, he knew the students already facing financial hardship would face the greatest challenges.

“Last year was harsh and extraordinary for a lot of families. I received a lot from Michigan and it was time to give back.” says Wang of his gift, and he hopes he can inspire others to follow his example. The Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Fund distributed $1,290,060 to students facing unforeseen expenses throughout 2020. Wang’s gift and those like his make it possible for students to continue pushing forward, even in the midst of the unknown.

Thank you to those who seek to provide equity in education and a soft place to land when times get tough.

Tony and Vivian Wang in front of the Rackham Building, 1978.
Tony and Vivian Wang, present day.