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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]

Cover Story

$4 million gift funds The Wang Center for International Programs


Drs. Peter ('60) and Grace Wang

By Greg Brewis

On December 7, members of the PLU community gathered at the Scandinavian Cultural Center to celebrate a donation that will continue PLU's growing tradition of international education. A $4 million gift from a Pacific Lutheran University graduate and his wife will fund the development of an international education center at PLU.

Peter and Grace Wang established The Wang Center for International Programs at PLU to prepare students to be leaders in the global economy and to be advocates for world peace.

"PLU has held a special place in my life," said Peter Wang '60. "The university provided me with a full scholarship when I attended. I haven't forgotten that my educational career began there. This is our way of saying thanks."

Their dream and vision has been to establish through the Wang Center a program focused on investigative learning and research in world peace through global understanding-a program that will help promote mutual understanding among nations and peoples.
University President Loren J. Anderson said the gift will propel PLU's already strong programs in international education to new levels of distinction.

"At PLU we have long recognized the importance of giving students the opportunity to expand their understanding of humanity's global condition," Anderson said. "The Wang Center will build on that commitment, enabling us to educate a new generation of global leaders who will be fully prepared to understand and, indeed, shape the global economy and environment. This new generation of leaders will first and foremost be ambassadors and advocates for a peaceful and peace-filled world."

"PLU HAS HELD A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY LIFE. THE UNIVERSITY PROVIDED ME WITH A FULL SCHOLARSHIP WHEN I ATTENDED. I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN THAT MY EDUCATIONAL CAREER BEGAN THERE. THIS IS OUR WAY OF SAYING THANKS."

–PETER WANG

The Wang Center, the first named academic center at PLU, will be fully operational for the 2002-03 academic year. It will:

  • Support, coordinate and work to strengthen the university's rich array of internationally focused academic programs and courses.

  • Organize and focus the university's nationally ranked study abroad programs so that more PLU sponsored opportunities will be offered and more students participate.

  • Become a dynamic research institute that will support faculty and bring together students and faculty for the exploration of global issues, both historical and contemporary.

  • Offer a public education effort that will include regular symposia and forums on campus as well as reports and publications that share, broadly, new insights and findings.

  • Peter, 64, and Grace, 63, are first-generation Americans who are natives of Taiwan and China. They live in Pebble Beach, Calif., and have three grown children.


A celebration: Peter Wang and President Anderson congratulate Katie Berkedal '03, who spoke at the announcement ceremony. Seated are MaryAnn Anderson and Grace Wang.

Peter Wang graduated from PLU with degrees in math and physics. He earned a Ph.D. in probability theory at Wayne State University, where he began his teaching career. Later he held professorships in mathematics and statistics at Michigan State, Iowa and Stanford universities. In 1970, he began a 14-year teaching career in mathematics and national security affairs at Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif. He spent much of his academic career teaching half-time and conducting research the other half on projects sponsored by the defense department to develop technological threat forecasting methodology used by national security and intelligence research analysts.

Wang is regarded as among the nation's top researchers in the use of mathematical models and probability theories for predicting and assessing security threats.

In 1986, he left teaching to establish several international trade business ventures. Wang also became a highly regarded entrepreneur and developer of computer-aided design and computer assisted engineering data handling systems. He was the first elected board member representing academia of the national and world computer graphics associations.


Educating a new generation: Peter and Grace Wang meet with PLU's internation education students.

Grace Wang earned her Ph.D. in chemistry, also from Wayne State University, and was a college professor early in her career. She later stepped out of the classroom to devote herself to raising a family and serving as a community volunteer and philanthropist.

She plays a key role in the Wang family's highly successful real estate acquisition and management interests, serving as investment manager for a large portfolio of real estate, primarily multifamily complexes.

"Making money isn't everything," Peter Wang said. "One of the things that Grace and I decided early on was to live our lives in the style of a college professor. Living modestly, you can only spend so much money. That enables you to use your wealth to make a difference in the world. That is how we were able to establish the Wang Center and realize our dream."


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