Eugene M. Lang '38

Eugene Lang

Lang, chair emeritus of the Board and a lifelong resident of New York City, founded REFAC Technology Development Corp. in 1951. Because of his insights into foreign trade, Lang became a consultant to the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, and served on official trade and investment missions throughout the world. In 1981, Lang created the now nationwide "I Have a Dream" Foundation that, with its sustained personal mentoring program, has guided many thousands of lower-income students through their K-12 years with an assured college opportunity after high school graduation.

A 1996 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Lang has a long history of philanthropic engagement with Swarthmore. In addition to the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility (2001), his gifts to the College have included support for the Lang Music Building (1975), the Eugene and Theresa Lang Performing Arts Center (1991), endowed professorships, support for faculty research and student financial aid, and programs that support students who design and carry out innovative service projects. In the more than 30 years of the Lang Opportunity Scholars Program, more than 200 students have completed projects to promote community service in more than 70 cities in 30 countries. Each student's experience reflects Lang's commitment to prepare each of them for lifelong leadership in civic engagement and social responsibility. In December 2012, Lang made a $50 million gift to the College-the largest in the history of the institution.

In addition to his enduring engagement with his alma mater, Lang's support of higher education extends to Columbia University, which houses the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship (1996), and the Eugene Lang College at New York's New School (1985). More recently, he founded Project Pericles (2001), a national not-for-profit organization that encourages colleges and universities to teach social responsibility and participatory citizenship and now has an active membership of more than 29 colleges.

Lang joined the Board in 1970, serving as chair from 1982-88 and chair emeritus since 1989. He earned a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore, followed by an M.S. in business from Columbia University in 1940, then business studies at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in 1940-41. Lang is also the recipient of 38 honorary degrees from colleges and universities including Yale University, Columbia University, New School of Social Research, University of Missouri, American University of Paris, Ursinus College, and Swarthmore College, among many others. Lang's wife of 62 years, Theresa Volmar Lang, passed away in 2008.