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Fung family to support students’ global co-ops

A gift from the Victor and William Fung Foundation Limited will establish an endowment fund to provide scholarships to students participating in Northeastern’s international co-op program.

The Fung Scholarships will support full-time undergraduates from across the university in all colleges and majors as they gain real-world experience in their fields of study, while also immersing themselves in different cultures. Criteria for selecting Fung Scholars will be based on academic excellence and leadership potential.

Spencer Fung, PA’96, whose family established the Victor and William Fung Foundation, is a champion of the university’s international co-op program and credits his own global co-op experience at Northeastern for influencing his career direction.

As one of only three students in the MS/MBA accounting program to be offered a global co-op, he worked in Shanghai for Coopers & Lybrand, which has since merged into what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers. There he acquired valuable knowledge in accounting and consulting while immersing himself in the culture of a city that in 1996 was in the midst of transforming into the modern, global economic hub that it is today.

“I’ve benefitted greatly from living and working abroad, and I want the next generation to have these experiences,” said Fung, who is a member of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees. “Had it not been for international co-op, my career path would have been vastly different.”

Northeastern is a global leader in experiential education. Co-op is the signature program in the university’s century-old model, which integrates rigorous classroom learning with real-world work experience.

More students take part in co-op all over the world than ever before. In fact, there has been a 407 percent increase in global co-ops since 2006-07. The number of countries where Northeastern offered experiential learning opportunities has increased by 133 percent since 2006. Between 2006-07 and 2013–14, students participated in experiential-learning opportunities—including co-op, Dialogue of Civilizations programs, study abroad, and research—in 128 countries.

“A true Northeastern experience encompasses a myriad opportunities spanning the globe,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University. “Spencer is a global leader who believes in the power of real-world experience. The Fung family’s generosity to help students benefit from opportunities worldwide shows their commitment to creating the next generation of global business leaders.”

Li & Fung is part of Northeastern’s global network of 3,000 co-op employers. Fung is the group chief executive officer and executive director of Li & Fung, which is headquartered in Hong Kong and engages in the design, development, sourcing, and distribution of consumer goods worldwide. The company manages end-to-end supply chains to connect more than 7,000 retailers and 15,000 suppliers globally through two business networks of trading and logistics.

Fung noted that his position at Li & Fung requires a global mindset, one he said he’s been fortunate to cultivate from having lived and worked in the U.S. and in countries throughout Europe and Asia. He underscored the importance of developing an international perspective to compete in today’s global society, saying that students can learn two important lessons from global experiences: People are generally the same everywhere you go, but they have their own cultures, traditions, and behaviors.

“People who haven’t experienced other countries or cultures around the world might think there’s only one way of doing things,” Fung added. “You need to be culturally sensitive to become a global citizen.”

Fung said he is impressed with Northeastern’s global vision and commitment to providing students with a variety of experiential learning programs across the world. He hopes this gift will encourage others to support and expand these programs.

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