Why I Made My Gift to Duke Kunshan

Speech by Frances Chang, donor of JF Progressive Scholarship at the Thanks-Giving Dinner and scholarship celebration on Nov.8, 2018, at Duke Kunshan University.

Ladies and gentleman, students and faculty, thank you for your warm invitation.

I’m very honored to be here today as a donor of Kunshan Duke University.

Life is full of surprises. My father was a Major General in the KMT and was defeated by the CCP in 1949, banishing him to the little island of Taiwan. Having been born and raised in Taiwan, I never would have dreamt that I would be here today in Suzhou with you all, from Mainland China and all corners of the world.

Growing up, my family instilled within me the idea that education is not just important, but a life-changing experience. For that, I am immensely grateful. From a young age, I diligently pursued my education and continue to do so today. My education brought me many great opportunities, including studying the United States, a career in the prestigious financial services industry, and eventually becoming a founder of Noah Holdings, the leading private wealth management company in China. Fortunately, through Noah’s eventual donation of a classroom to Duke Kunshan, I was able to become quite intimate with DKU’s educational philosophy. I chose Duke Kunshan to make this endowment because of its reputation. Not only do they value academics, but also humanity. In the landscape of rapid global economic and technological growth, we are losing touch with what it means to be human, to be part of a community, to help others.

Having grown up with the internet and cellular devices, millennial are especially in need of this humanity. The internet was supposed to connect us, but it has only pulled us further apart, allowing us to live lonely lives in virtual environments. It is my hope that my endowment will provide greater opportunities for the next generation of leaders to come to Duke Kunshan and experience the values of community, openness and diversity, in order to flourish and lead us into the future.

If you believe that education can change lives,

if you believe that education can bring us closer together connecting the East and the West,

if you believe that education can help push humanity forward,

if you believe that there are undiscovered talents around the world that lack the proper resources to pursue such higher education,

and if you believe in what DKU stands for, please join us.

Thank you very much!