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May 29, 2020

$6.1M gift honors late sociologist and anthropologist alumnus

Research scientist Keelung Hong has made a $6.1 million gift to Michigan State University in honor of his spouse, alumnus Stephen O. Murray, a sociologist, anthropologist and independent scholar who died in 2019. This is the largest cash gift in the MSU Libraries' history.

MSU Libraries will receive $5 million from the gift which will be used to renovate space in the Main Library for its Special Collections. MSU's James Madison College will receive $1 million — the largest gift in its 52-year history — to support the Stephen O. Murray Scholar in Residence. An additional $100,000 will be used by MSU Libraries for travel fellowships to bring other researchers to MSU Special Collections.

“This is a significant gift that will help MSU build and maintain scholarly resources that are critical to support research related to diversity and inclusion,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “We are grateful to Dr. Hong for his trust in us to carry forward this important work.”

In honor of the gift, MSU Libraries will name its special collections division the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections.

“This gift is a tremendous act of generosity and philanthropy,” said Dean of Libraries Joseph A. Salem. “The etymological root of philanthropy begins with love, and this is Keelung Hong’s demonstration of love for Stephen Murray, for MSU Libraries, and for research, teaching and learning.”

The residency program and travel fellowships will support visiting scholars who will teach and conduct research with access to the Library’s Stephen O. Murray Archival Collection and other resources. Special Collections holds over 450,000 printed works, numerous manuscript and archival collections, and an extensive collection of ephemera supporting research in popular culture, radicalism, comic art and gender. These materials can be seen and used in the Special Collections reading room which will remain on the first floor of the Main Library.

“My donation is intended to ensure that Stephen O. Murray’s research, whether complete and published or incomplete and remaining unpublished at his death, remains accessible to other scholars and to support additional research into the topics that interested him,” Hong said. “His commitment to libraries really helped me understand that I should continue to support his interests and continue to support libraries for future generations.”

Murray and Hong were together for 38 years. After graduating from James Madison College at MSU, Murray earned a doctoral degree in sociology from the University of Toronto, was a postdoctoral fellow in anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, and worked in public health in California, Ohio and Texas. But his primary work and love was his dedication to scholarship and writing. He wrote and contributed to more than 20 books and published studies in sociolinguistics, the history of social sciences, and extensive historical and cross-cultural studies on homosexuality in multiple cultures.

Hong, who holds a doctorate in chemistry from UC-Berkeley was a research scientist at the University of California, San Francisco for 20 years. His work in improving cancer therapy has led to a series of breakthroughs and a number of patents in drug carrier technology for improving drug and gene delivery. After being a consultant to several biotech companies, Hong founded Taiwan Liposome Company in Taiwan and its subsidiary, TLC Biopharmaceuticals in the United States, where he currently serves as chairman & CEO.

By: Stephanie Motschenbacher