Published on Nov. 8, 2017
Updated on Nov. 10, 2017
The Panda Charitable Foundation, led by Andrew and Peggy Cherng, University of Missouri alumni and founders, co-chairs and co-chief executive officers of the Panda Restaurant Group, Inc., has given $1.5 million to the MU Honors College. This gift will support scholarships, programs and study abroad opportunities for high-achieving students within the Honors College.
“We are delighted to contribute to inspiring better lives by supporting one of the nation’s best honors colleges as well as providing resources to educate and train our future leaders,” the Cherngs said in a statement. “The education we received from Mizzou was instrumental in preparing us for the future. We hope this gift will give the Honors College additional tools to recruit the best students in the state and nation, and provide educational and career opportunities for MU’s best and brightest students.”
“The Cherngs’ generosity will allow the Honors College to expand our programs and create new opportunities to develop our future leaders. This gift also will allow us to continue to recruit and retain some of our state’s and nation’s brightest minds for years to come.”
This gift will support several different programs within the MU Honors College, including the Cherng Summer Scholars program. This program provides $9,000 to selected undergraduate students to fund research projects or artistic endeavors during a 10-week summer course; 12 students were selected as the first participants in the program. Additional programs the gift will support include the CIRCA program, which is a new, problem-based learning curriculum for honors courses that promotes interdisciplinary study and leadership development; study abroad opportunities for students in the Netherlands and in Kuala Lumpur; the Cherng Conference; and the Cherng Visiting Scholar program, which bring leaders who study global issues and solutions to Mizzou on an annual basis.
“The MU Honors College always has been a national leader in providing high-achieving students with opportunities to enhance and develop their strengths,” says J.D. Bowers, director of the MU Honors College. “The Cherngs’ generosity will allow the Honors College to expand our programs and create new opportunities to develop our future leaders. This gift also will allow us to continue to recruit and retain some of our state’s and nation’s brightest minds for years to come.”
Andrew Cherng earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics from the MU College of Arts and Science, and Peggy earned a master’s degree in computer science and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the MU College of Engineering.
Under the Cherngs’ leadership, Panda Restaurant Group, which operates the Panda Express chain of restaurants, was named one of America’s best employers by Forbes and was ranked the top Asian quick-service concept for seven consecutive years by QSR. Additionally, the Cherngs have been inducted into the National Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame.
The Cherngs are deeply committed to giving back to the communities in which Panda restaurants operate through Panda Cares Foundation, a philanthropic effort that has donated millions of dollars to non-profit organizations, schools and children’s hospitals since its founding in 1999.
In October, as part of Homecoming festivities at Mizzou, the Cherngs were inducted into the Mizzou Alumni Association’s (MAA) Hall of Fame. The MAA Hall of Fame honors high-achieving alumni who have exhibited excellence in their chosen field. While on campus, the Cherngs met with students who have benefited from their generosity.