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USC Rossier scholarship can inspire future scholars

Victoria and Robert Wang with a photo of his parents in 2011

Thanks to the generosity of the late Robert Cheng-Tung Wang, who established a scholarship in 1996 in honor of his father, Yu-Kai Wang MS ’35, USC Rossier School of Education students who aim to become high school and community college counselors will receive financial support for their studies.

With Wang’s passing on Sept. 27, a planned gift provided an additional $50,000 to support the Yu-Kai Wang and Mrs. Alice Ah-Chu Wang Endowed Scholarship.

Born in Shanghai, Robert Wang, 84, was an accomplished business executive who grew up in Japanese-occupied China. After the war, young Robert, known as “Bob,” earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Shanghai. In 1948, he came to the United States to study at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minn., and earn his MBA at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1950.

He went on to spent a number of years as a senior executive at 3M Co., where he developed business strategy for 3M subsidiaries in Asia and became the first managing director of 3M Taiwan.

Elizabeth Wang-Lee said that her father’s philanthropy was borne out of tragedy. When her younger brother, David, was killed at age 25, just before he would begin the MBA program at the University of California, Los Angeles, her father created a scholarship in his name at UCLA and followed with a scholarship in the memory of his parents at USC Rossier.

“He turned unfathomable sadness after my brother’s death into tangible hope and happiness for others who had dreams,” she said.

Robert Wang and his wife, Virginia, established the USC Rossier scholarship to support students studying to be high school and community college counselors. In a 2011 interview, Wang said the scholarship honored his mother and his father, who had been a pioneer for education in China.

“My father graduated from the School of Education,” Wang said. “He was an educator all his life. He always taught us if you are lucky enough to have any surplus, then you should spend it on other people. I followed in my father’s footsteps. He is my inspiration.”

Yu-Kai Wang opened an elementary and high school in Shanghai before leaving to study at USC. After earning his MS in education in 1935, he held faculty positions at Great China University, National Teachers College and United Christian University, and he opened and ran a new business school, Kwang Hsia College, with branches in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

In 2011, Robert Wang said that his father’s lifelong commitment to education inspired his generous gift to future scholars at USC Rossier.

Elizabeth Wang-Lee said her father and grandfather left inspirational legacies and that their commitment to education will live for generations to come.

“Dad was a humble man who was frugal to himself so that he could be generous with others,” she said. “For him, education meant the difference between letting life rule you and ruling your own life. Education is one of the results of having freedom. They go hand-in-hand.”

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USC Rossier scholarship can inspire future scholars

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