For over 60 years, Eugene M. Lang pursued a business career, creating diverse manufacturing ventures in the United States and abroad based on new products and innovative technologies. He became recognized internationally as having pioneered licensing and technology transfer as practical means for small American manufacturers to establish their business interests in foreign markets. Reflecting his accomplishments, Forbes Magazine characterized him as "the quintessential entrepreneur" and Nation's Business "a father of innovation." An active protagonist of small business interests, he received the Government's "E" Award from President Kennedy - also, commendations for distinguished service on seven overseas trade development and policy missions of the Commerce and State Departments.
Since establishing the Eugene M. Lang Foundation in 1963, Lang increasingly devoted himself to philanthropy, mainly in education, and in 1997 terminated all business activities. In 1981, he created the now nationwide "I Have A Dream" Program that provides sustained personalized guidance and support to many thousands of disadvantaged children (identified as "Dreamers") throughout their K-12 years, plus a college opportunity. The Program's success has inspired federal and state legislation that now benefits millions of children.
In 2001, Lang established "Project Pericles", an organization that engages colleges and universities, as "Pericleans", to encourage and facilitate the effective participation of young Americans in the processes of our democracy. Qualification as a Periclean starts with a formal institutional commitment to prepare students for thoughtful social and civic engagement as a regular part of educational programs. To that end, a selected group of 22 diverse colleges and universities, committed as the pilot Pericleans, have been developing and testing programs that educationally and experientially involve the classroom, campus and community. He has also endowed and otherwise supported facilities, scholarships, academic projects and student initiatives at many colleges.
Mr. Lang has had service relationships with many institutions. He is currently Chair Emeritus of Swarthmore College, founder and Chair Emeritus of the national "I Have A Dream" Foundation, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Conference of Board Chairs of Liberal Arts Colleges, board member of the Columbia University Business School where he established the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, and board member of New School University whose undergraduate liberal arts college bears his name. He has received many distinctions and awards, including 38 honorary degrees. Recognizing his services to education, President Bush designated him a "Point of Light" and President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, this country's highest civilian award.
Born of immigrant parents in 1919, Lang grew up in New York City. During the Great Depression, he attended public schools and, at age 15, was admitted as a scholarship student to Swarthmore College. An economics major, he graduated in 1938 and was employed successively as a writer of business reports and production planner for an aircraft parts company while earning an MS business degree from Columbia University and taking mechanical engineering courses at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. He and his late wife Theresa were married in 1946 and have three children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He claims his biggest success has been his marriage and the strong sense of family that has grown continuously within an encompassing environment of love, respect, interaction, achievement, shared values and social responsibility.
Interview with Eugene Lang, "Getting Your Money's Worth with Judith West," August 20, 2008 Eugene
Lang talks about the impromptu promise of college to a class of graduating sixth graders, that started the "I Have A Dream" movement.
Founder of Scholarship Program Cheers His Charges, Athens Banner-Herald, July 18, 2008 Eugene
Lang, the founder of the "I Have A Dream" Foundation, addresses
Dreamers from across the country at the 7th annual National Dreamer
Conference at the University of Georgia.
Giving Wisely (cover story), Barron's, November 26, 2007 Barron's
philanthropy issue lists "I Have A Dream" founder Eugene M. Lang as one
of the nation's top 10 philanthropists based on overall impact.