Tony Hsu and family establish new fellowship fund to support graduate students

In addition to the new fellowship, the Hsu family is supporting the department through the ECE fund.

Lily, Alexandra, and Tony Hsu Enlarge
Lily, Alexandra, and Tony Hsu.

Tony Hsu (BSE EE ’68), his wife Lily, and their daughter Alexandra have established the “Tony S., Lily P., and Alexandra Hsu Fellowship Fund,” which will support Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate students at the University of Michigan. They also provided a gift to the ECE Fund, which supports a wide variety of activities and initiatives related to research and the educational experience.

“I wanted to express my appreciation for Michigan ECE,” Tony said. “The university is there to educate and inspire people to do something that’s meaningful, that makes the world a better place.”

The university is there to educate and inspire people to do something that's meaningful, that makes the world a better place.

Tony Hsu

Tony was born in Shanghai, and he lived briefly in Hong Kong. When he was six years old, he and his siblings immigrated to the U.S., rejoining their parents who were attending college here. They lived in Queens, New York, and Tony attended an advanced technical high school, which paved the way to U-M.

“In New York, the streets were crowded, our days were often noisy and chaotic,” Tony said. “When I first stepped onto the U-M campus, I took in the sweeping grounds and gracious old buildings, and my whole perspective shifted. Here, finally, was an environment that allowed me to breathe. Maybe gave me the space to dream. I loved the Midwestern values of compassion and understanding, of not having to be so driven all the time. Michigan was a much simpler and more peaceful place to learn and thrive.”

Tony enjoyed tennis, squash, and sailing here, and he was a member of the FF Fraternity – a global social club for Chinese students. He spent many Saturdays cheering on the Wolverines in the Big House and grabbing a greasy, mouthwatering dinner at Blimpie Burger. He frequented the original Pretzel Bell, which featured wooden tables where generations of U-M students had carved their names. But his favorite place on campus was the Undergraduate Library, or as it is more commonly known as, the UGLi.

“The UGLi was basically the place where I could find a quiet setting,” Hsu says. “But it was also a place where guys would meet girls.”

After graduation, Tony enrolled at the Yale Graduate School in Engineering and Applied Sciences and earned a master’s degree.  Then he spent several years working at Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. (LMSC). There, he worked on communication satellites for the Intelsat Program, which was directly related to some of the work he’d done under Ralph E. Hiatt and Keeve (Kip) M. Siegel at the Michigan Radiation Laboratory.  He left LMSC to complete his PhD in Applied Physics at Yale University.

Tony joined the Newport Corporation and later became Vice President. Newport Corporation is a renowned global supplier of advanced technology products and systems to those in scientific research, microelectronics, life and health sciences, industrial manufacturing, and defense/security. During his time there, he fostered connections with several prominent research groups around the world, including the Ultrafast Science and Phenomena at U-M, which is now the Gérard Mourou Center for Ultrafast Optical Science.

After leaving the Newport Corporation, Tony worked as an angel investor, board member, and advisor, helping to fund startups in semiconductors, semiconductor equipment, network technology, laser communications, and fiber optics companies.

Tony served as a member of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Committee where he helped select candidates for the Presidential Young Investigators Awards in physics, considered the highest honor granted by the NSF.  He was actively involved with the Optical Society of America, the American Physics Society, and the IEEE Laser and Electro Optics Society. He also served as one of the two conference and program co-chairs of the Conference of Lasers and Electro-Optics, the largest and most respected international conference in laser and electro optics technology.

In 2018, Tony published Chasing the Modern, an exploration of the life of his grandfather, the iconic Chinese poet Xu Zhimo. The project was inspired from an interaction with a friend during Tony’s freshman year at U-M.

“I’m very fond of my experience at Michigan where I appreciated being among so many brilliant engineers,” Tony said.

Tony and Lily, a former fashion designer, have been married for over 45 years. Their daughter Alexandra is a filmmaker.