President Rebecca Chopp's Remarks Announcing Eugene Lang '38's Gift to the Board
Nearly eight decades ago in 1934, Gene Lang transplanted himself from New York City to this campus. In the years since, he and we have grown together to be the truly wonderful human being and institution he and we are today.
Almost as if he had been a young tree planted in this splendid garden, his blossoming and ours bespeak a powerful symbiosis. When he left here in 1938 at age 19 and after further study, he launched himself into the industrial world of new knowledge and its transfer to make a global impact on the postwar economic recovery, with a special impact on the nation of Japan. Gene's grasp of the manufacturing process and its financial workings quickly made him a leader and successful entrepreneur in the technology-transfer field. Because of his insights into foreign trade, he became a consultant to the Departments of State and Commerce under the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, and he served on trade and investment missions throughout the world.
As his career continued to flourish, Gene found himself doing good for the world while doing well for himself and his family, and from that rewarding reality he emerged as a model philanthropist. He thanked those who had helped him take root in this community by creating scholarships in their names, simultaneously honoring them and making the same passage he experienced to a brighter future available to others.
Through his generous impulses he experienced the pleasure of giving, and he began to inspire others to do likewise. And, importantly for Swarthmore, he brought his strength as a creative and thoughtful entrepreneur to his philanthropy. He recognized, for example, the great potential for enhancing our liberal arts curriculum through the fuller inclusion of the arts and music, then dance and theater, by first making possible the Lang Music Building and, in 1991, adding the Eugene M. and Theresa Lang Performing Arts Center. We have seen the burgeoning of all the arts here - singly and collaboratively enriching the education of our students and the cultural and expressive life of our extended community. To foster his commitment to social and civic engagement he created the Lang Opportunity Scholars program, now 30 years old, and most recently the Eugene M. Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.
The world beyond Swarthmore has benefited from his spirit and creativity - from the "I Have a Dream" Foundation to the Eugene Lang College at The New School to the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia University, hospital programming in New York City and more, he has been the model philanthropist.
Why do I recite this history and extol these virtues this morning? I do so because, with profound and nearly overwhelming joy, I announce to you the crowning jewel, the full flowering of his love for this garden where we've grown together - his gift of $50 million to Swarthmore. This gift, the largest in the history of the College, (and likely the largest we will receive in the campaign) will result in new engineering and science facilities and help to extend connections between the College's engineering program and many of the other disciplines that comprise liberal arts education. It undergirds a critical aspect of the College's strategic plan, one which Gene and all of you have endorsed because it provides leadership in the global reinterpretation of the liberal arts as it supports the integration of academic rigor and creativity, intentional community, and engagement in the world. This historic gift will enable Swarthmore to provide its students and faculty with spaces and opportunities that bring together the arts, engineering, the sciences, humanities, and the social sciences. It will also foster collaboration on basic research and allow Swarthmore community members the opportunity to apply knowledge to improve the world. I know he would want each of you and other alums and friends to stretch as he has done, believing that doing so will be as fulfilling for you as it is for him.
We stand to applaud you, Gene, with love and deeply felt gratitude.