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Profiles in Giving

“Four years of total bliss”

Reading about Tufts history for fun one day, Courtney Wang, A78, A15P, was surprised to learn that the university had once owned much more land near Somerville’s Powder House Square. “When I look at the map and see how large that swath is—you could have some huge playing fields, or the medical school could have been there,” he says. Unfortunately, lean finances forced the university to sell off land in the early 1900s.

Wang doesn’t expect Tufts to regain that real estate, but he does hope to help the university thrive and teach future generations. That’s one reason he serves on the Tufts Alumni Council, the Parents Leadership Council, and the thirty-fifth Reunion Committee.

Wang credits his late father, An Wang, for modeling the importance of philanthropy. The elder Wang, who cofounded the computer company Wang Laboratories, gave substantially to several educational and cultural institutions, including the university where he earned his doctorate. “My dad taught me to make this a better world before you leave it,” says Wang, who lives in Dallas and is the founder and owner of O-File, an online storage and file transfer system. “And one way to do that is to support your alma mater, because they’re going to do things on a bigger scale than we as individuals can. We’re only on the planet for a finite time, but the university is perpetual.”

Wang recalls his own Tufts experience as “four years of total bliss.” He played lacrosse and soccer while earning a degree in political science and history, and made friends with whom he still stays in touch. Having a daughter who is a current undergraduate helps him stay connected. When she was studying calculus, Wang told her about a blind calculus professor at Tufts who made a lasting impact on him. Unable to draw formulas on the chalkboard, the professor would instead talk through his problem solving approach, stimulating fresh thinking by students.

Although Wang doesn’t work on differential equations these days, that ability to approach challenges creatively still serves him well, he says. “The kind of critical thinking and critical questioning I learned at Tufts, I still apply to everyday business.”