When Fung Hon Chu asked sons Victor Ph.D. ’71 and William M.B.A. ’72 to apply their Harvard training to the family company as if it were a case study, he may not have imagined how their educations would help transform Li & Fung into the success that it is today. Li & Fung is a multinational group of companies headquartered in Hong Kong that operates three distinct core businesses – export sourcing, retailing, and integrated distribution.
The Fung brothers have chosen to honor that training with a $15 million gift from the Victor and William Fung Foundation to Harvard University on behalf of the family members of their late father.
The gift will support three central areas: academic resources, people, and research. Specifically, the funds will be used to name the H.C. Fung Library at the Center for Government and International Studies; endow the Victor and William Fung Directorship of the Harvard University Asia Center; provide financial aid and grants for undergraduate study and research in Asia; and support graduate students from China and Hong Kong enrolled in Harvard master’s degree programs in public health, public policy, public administration, business, architecture, education, engineering, or East Asian studies.
“Changes taking place today in China and across Asia will have profound implications for every aspect of life in the 21st century,” says President Lawrence H. Summers. “Harvard must seize every opportunity to understand the most populous region in the world. This generous gift from William and Victor Fung and the Fung family will enhance the Asia Center by promoting new faculty research and enabling students to experience firsthand countries they have previously known only from books.”
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William C. Kirby, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History, former director of the Asia Center, and incoming director of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, agrees: “There has never been a more critical time to study Asia, its increasing interconnectedness, its decreasing borders, and its global impact. The Fung family gift will have tremendous bearing on the work of the Asia Center and across Harvard, and I would like to thank Victor and William Fung for their continuing involvement in the University and their commitment to supporting leading-edge scholarship at Harvard.”
Undergraduates who travel to China or Hong Kong as Victor and William Fung Scholars (also known as Fung Scholars) will study language and also engage in internships and public service activities that complement their specific fields of study. The first cohort of scholars will focus on subject areas ranging from the integration of traditional
Chinese and Western approaches to medicine to the nutritional differences between pre- and post-agricultural China.
“Our goal is to promote understanding between the United States and greater China as well as to give students at all levels the opportunity to start meaningful dialogues with scholars from Asia early on in their careers,” says Victor Fung, who is also a former Harvard Business School professor.
Currently, Victor Fung serves as chairman of Harvard Business School’s Asia-Pacific Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s Council. In 1996, Victor was awarded the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal, and, one year later, he received the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award. In 2001, he received the Harvard Medal from the Harvard Alumni Association. William Fung has served on Harvard Business School’s Board of Dean’s Advisers since 2003.
“The Fung family has been deeply involved with the Asia Center since its inception,” says Anthony Saich, Daewoo Professor of International Affairs and the first Victor and William Fung Director of the Harvard University Asia Center. “Their generosity underscores their strong sense of mission in expanding outreach to Asia.”