“I plan to be a president sans frontières,” says Martin Y. Tang, SM ‘72. As the Alumni Association’s first president living abroad, he plans to encourage alumni worldwide to participate in MIT events and give back to the Institute.
Even before he became president on July 1, Tang had decided to encourage giving to MIT. He learned about President Hockfield’s focus on increasing participation in the annual Alumni Fund while he was thinking about his 35th Sloan reunion gift. Tang decided to issue a challenge to attract new donors to MIT and encourage recent graduates to join in the tradition of alumni giving. “I want to convey the importance of unrestricted annual support, and I want to do my best to help to increase participation in the Alumni Fund,” he says.
In 1976, Tang was working in Taiwan and jumped into alumni activities as treasurer of the MIT Club of Taiwan. He is currently a member of the MIT Corporation and serves on the visiting committees for the Sloan School, the humanities, and the dean for undergraduate education. A past president of the MIT Club of Hong Kong, he attends many MIT events.
“My family owes a lot to MIT,” he says. His grandfather, P. Y. Tang, came to MIT from China in 1920 on a scholarship and graduated from Course XV in 1923. His father, Jack Tang, graduated from Course X in 1949. “I’m the third generation to have benefited from an MIT education,” he says. “We believe in giving back, and I’m delighted to do so as Alumni Association president.”
Tang’s favorite memory of MIT is “walking around the older buildings on campus,” he says. “I like to think that my grandfather walked these same corridors 86 years ago.”
Tang was born in Boston shortly after his father graduated from MIT. He lived in the U.S. until he was six, when his family moved to Hong Kong. Before earning a master’s degree at the Sloan School, Tang earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Cornell University. He is currently chairman of Spencer Stuart in Asia, a global executive-search firm. He is widely credited with building the company’s successful East Asian business.
He also ran another international executive-search firm in Hong Kong and served from 1986 to 1988 as executive director of Techno-Ventures, a leading Hong Kong venture capital firm. Earlier, he worked for Bank of America in San Francisco and Taiwan and was executive director of South Sea Textile Manufacturing in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government has appointed Tang to such positions as seats on the University Grants Committee and the Professional Services Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. He was a council member of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for six years and was subsequently a member of the University Court. He is a director of CEI Contract Manufacturing of Singapore and a vice president of the German Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong. Tang has been a trustee of Cornell University since 1994.
He and his wife, Anne, have a daughter who graduated from Stanford University; their son is a junior at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.