Pleased with the new direction of global education at Sewanee, Ning Tang, C’98, has made a multiyear, multipurpose commitment that will strengthen Sewanee’s presence in China. The gift, made in honor of Samuel and Joan Williamson, creates scholarships for Chinese students as well as programming in China. Tang has made a pledge to support both through 2022. When Tang was a student at Sewanee, he built a special relationship with then Vice Chancellor Sam Williamson and his wife, Joan. The Williamsons helped him navigate Sewanee as a student and helped him prepare for his job interviews in New York that ultimately led to his first job in the US and his career in finance. Ning Tang has remained in close touch with Sam and Joan since his graduation in 1998.
A key activity created by the gift is the University of the South China Forum, a faculty-led collaborative research project that allows Sewanee students to collaborate with Chinese students. The research project will involve five to eight students and one to two faculty members from Sewanee working with an equal number of Chinese students and faculty on a shared research problem.
Annually, the Forum will address one of a series of rotating research topics including environmental policy, environmental/public health, and business/finance. “The forum will allow faculty to introduce well-informed modules and case studies, based in China-related research, into their courses and will likely result in student-faculty and bilateral papers and publications,” says Scott Wilson, assistant dean for global education. It will introduce students to important Chinese subject areas, including environmental management and business practices, while also giving them detailed, practical knowledge of how to address these subjects.
The Tang gift also helps students pay for travel to China for study and research. At Sewanee, Ning Tang was introduced to microcredit through an internship at Grameen Bank. In 2006, he founded CreditEase, China’s first and now the biggest peer-to-peer microcredit platform, and has built the company into a 3,000-person organization with a service network covering more than 30 cities all over the country. “Tang has often mentioned the importance of internships and vocational exploration provided by Sewanee, which allowed him to discover his interest in person-to-person finance,” says Wilson.