Wu-Kan, Shien-Woo and Robert Kung Family Endowed Scholarship
Shien-Woo Kung ’26, Ph.D., was born in China and was a 72nd generation descendent of Confucius. In the early 1920’s he came to North Central College on a missionary scholarship to study social science and subsequently earned a doctorate of commercial science from the New York University Graduate School of business.
In 1930, Commercial Press, a Shanghai publishing company, sent Kung to the New York Times to learn about modern management so he could implement its business principles in China. Also during the 1930s, Kung was professor of economics at Shanghai College and professor and department chair of international trade at Hangchow College.
Kung served in senior executive positions for the Bank of China and was sent to four different continents to master international banking policies. Following World War II, he was an adviser to China and the U.S. on rebuilding efforts. He was also a member of the Foreign Exchange Stabilization Board and Central Bank of China. After the War, he was head of the Bank of China in Tsingtao and director of the Foreign Trade Association of China.
When the communists started taking over China in 1949, Kung moved his wife and four children across the ocean to start a new life in the United States, where he was appointed as the U.S. representative and director of the Central Trust of China in New York. He later became executive vice president of the International Commercial Bank of China, N.Y., and Chairman of the Board of the Chinese American Bank, N.Y.
In 1972, Kung moved to San Francisco and became chairman and CEO of the Bank of Canton until his retirement in 1985, after which he served as adviser until the late 1990’s. During his tenure, he introduced many innovative concepts, like risk management, and the bank expanded from two offices in San Francisco to seven throughout California. He was a trustee of the China Institute in America and a member of the Commonwealth Club of California.
Always involved in community affairs, Kung received a number of awards. In the mid-1980’s, he was awarded the AMC Cancer Research Center Humanitarian Award by then-Mayor Diane Feinstein, who declared a S.W. Kung Day to honor his service to the San Francisco community. Kung also received an honorary doctor of laws degree from North Central in 1961 for his community service.
Kung was an academic at heart and enjoyed doing research. He wrote a number of books and articles on foreign trade, Chinese immigration and Chinese in America. He valued education and felt everyone should give back more to society than they receive. He supported scholarships and research at the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, Lehigh University and Barnard College, as well as North Central.
Kung was always grateful for the missionary scholarship to North Central so he established the Wu-Kan Kung Scholarship Fund in 1960 in memory of his father who had encouraged him to come to the U.S. for his education. The family later set up the Shien-Woo Kung Scholarship.
The two Kung scholarship funds have subsequently been combined into the Wu-Kan, Shien-Woo and Robert Kung Family Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide opportunities ongoing to students of Chinese heritage just as Kung had in the 1920’s.
Kung was preceded in death by his wife, Wei-Ven Yao Kung. He is survived by two sons, Edward ’53 and the late Robert ’65; two daughters, Lee Wei and Nancy Wong; and eight grandchildren.