Dominic Ng (’80), Chairman and CEO of East West Bank, remembers tutoring University of Houston student-athletes in the University’s tutorial center and earning just over $3 an hour during the late 1970s. He was soon given a considerable raise with a move to the Athletics Department, and became one of only two students hired to tutor the football players. He remembers these years as the “glory days” of Coach Bill Yeoman. Today, the Dominic and Ellen Ng Academic Center for Excellence in the Athletics/Alumni Center will provide a much-needed, dedicated space where learning will be the order of the day for student-athletes and tutors alike.
Ng and his wife’s generous $1 million gift will allow for a new generation of student-athletes to excel in their studies, all while working hard to bring glory to UH through their respective sports.
A math and science tutor, and later an accounting and economics tutor, the would-be banker worked long evening hours helping football team members prepare for tests and complete their homework. One football player Ng tutored even went on to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
Although Ng wasn’t an athlete himself, he did act as a guest coach for his alma mater in the legendary UH-versus-Memphis football game in 2015. “Greg Ward Jr. (’17) injured his ankle,” remembers Ng. “Kyle Postma (’17) won the game for UH in a dramatic manner in the final minutes of the game!” At the same exciting game, a Cougar painting commissioned by Ng, was unveiled and hung in on the east side of TDECU Stadium in the Bert F. Winston Jr. Band and Performance Complex.
Even though he lives in California, Ng finds it extremely important to support UH. His long-distance commitment extends to the $1 billion “Here, We Go” Campaign, of which UH already has reached three-quarters of its goal. “This campaign is sending a clear message to alumni about giving back,” says Ng. “Because of President Khator, and because of the ambitious attitude of alumni and students, I know UH can do it!” exclaims Ng.
He has been recognized many times over the years by various media including Forbes, the L.A. Times, etc. Most notably, he was named Business Person of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Also honored by the United Way, the Asian Society and the Anti-Defamation League, Ng has turned a niche bank that once served Chinese-American immigrants into one of the top performing financial institutions in the nation.
How did UH help him get to where he is today? “I think one of the nicest things about UH is its diversity,” answers Ng. “Growing up in Hong Kong, I had little exposure to cultures outside of my own, and had little knowledge of Texas culture either.”
Ng spent the beginning of his schooling in the U.S. absorbing as many things as he could about other cultures. He had a roommate from Bahrain and remembers making friends and learning about the lives of students from Malaysia, Vietnam, Panama and Lebanon. Instead of experiencing anxiety due to the cultural difference, Ng took every opportunity to learn from those of different cultures.
This has served him well, and East West Bank has become a “bridge between the East and West,” in Ng’s own words. “Our bank helps immigrants assimilate more quickly into American culture, by being cognizant of language and cultural barriers, all the while providing credit and loans to people of all kinds. Diversity is never going to go away,” he says. “We must embrace it!”
-Sarah F. Hill