Dr. Nian-Tsu Wang (N. T. Wang) was born in Shanghai on July 25, 1917. Initially trained to be a Confucian scholar, he received a classical education at home, where he was tutored in Chinese poetry, painting, the Classics and other literati skills. Math, science, and languages were introduced after his father, Pai Yuan Wang, a banker, decided to school his four sons in the Western ways when they were teenagers. In 1937, N. T. Wang went abroad to study at the London School of Economics and Germany. He transferred to Columbia College where he graduated Phi beta Kappa with honors in economics in 1941, and went on to receive an M.A. and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
He made many contributions to his homeland of China, the United States, his home since 1939, and to countless countries which he helped through his work at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. After retiring from 28 years service at the United Nations, as the Director of the Centre on Transnational Corporation, he returned to Columbia University to teach at the School of Business and the School of International and Public Affairs. He thoroughly enjoyed his time with his students, organizing seminars, creating training programs for Chinese academic and business leaders, and working tirelessly as the Director of the China-International Business Project. In his final days, he was polishing his keynote speech as part of Columbia University's 250th anniversary celebration on September 10. He was an honorary professor of ten universities, a fellow of the International Academy of Management, and a recipient of many awards, including the New York Governor's Award for Outstanding Asian American.
In his autobiography, My Nine Lives, Wang wrote of his lives as number one son, traditional scholar, foreign student, public servant, instructor, international servant, advisor, academician, and immigrant.
He died of cancer on August 26, 2003. Wang is serviced by his wife, Mabel U, four daughters, June, Kay, Cynthia, and Geraldine, and a son Newton,.