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Dr. Tsunwah "Edmund" Tsang

March 14, 1948 - March 11, 2020
Kalamazoo, MI



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Kalamazoo, MI 49008
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Life Story / Obituary


After a courageous battle with cancer, Tsun-Wah (Edmund) Tsang passed away peacefully on March 11, 2020 at Rose Arbor Hospice, surrounded by his family and friends. He was 72.

Edmund was born on March 14, 1948 to Hing Fong Tsang and Fong Chee Ko, and was raised in Hong Kong. He was the first in his family to go to college, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska in 1973 and later a doctoral degree in Metallurgy from Iowa State University in 1977. Edmund became a postdoctoral research fellow at Freie University in Berlin, West Germany. He was a visiting scientist at Ames Laboratory at Iowa State and a visiting scholar at both the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C., and the American Society for Engineering Education.

In 1982 Edmund joined the faculty at the University of Alabama as an associate professor of mechanical engineering. During his time in Mobile, he formed an alternative newspaper The Harbinger to cover local environmental, social, and political issues for the entire Mobile community. Edmund always spoke fondly of the many relationships he formed during his time in Alabama and was very proud of the work he and others contributed to publish the Harbinger.

In 2001 Edmund moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan to join the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Western Michigan University as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Assessment. At WMU, Edmund served as the Principal Investigator of the prestigious STEM Talent Expansion (STEP) Program through the National Science Foundation. His work with STEP was instrumental in developing first-year engineering seminars and creating learning communities to improve retention and graduation rates among engineering students. He also helped run a statewide effort, the Lewis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (L-SAMP), designed to increase graduation rates among minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. In addition to serving as Associate Dean, Edmund served as Interim Chair of the Department of Industrial Design from 2005-2011, Interim Chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering from 2009-2011, and Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences from 2013-2015.

While at WMU, Edmund was recognized with an Excellence in Service-Learning Faculty Award in 2012; Faculty Fellow of Lee Honors College in 2010; Phi Kappa Phi-WMU in 2005; and given the Platinum Award by the WMU Division of Multicultural Affairs in 2002. Edmund retired as Professor Emeritus of the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Associate Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences on December 31, 2017. Read Edmund’s feature from the WMU Inspire magazine.

Edmund always held education in the highest regard and worked tirelessly to ensure all students felt supported. He believed he had a responsibility to help every student succeed. He will be remembered by colleagues and students as an engaging educator who lit up a room with his passion and drive. Edmund’s teaching style was warm and inviting as he engaged students with an authentic curiosity and interest in their progress. After retirement as associate dean, Edmund still loved teaching students and felt that he still had more to give. He continued to teach an intro to engineering course until fall of 2019 (https://wmich-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/xam8588_wmich_edu/EaqD8BwK4pZPhIs4aI6twWMBbSH8vAnw3p9J77NQsA0I3w?e=yXTUzD).

Dr. Edmund Tsang was a gifted leader, professor, and mentor, but an even more dedicated family man. Of all of the accomplishments in his life, he felt that nothing was more satisfying to him than being a father. He cared deeply for his children; Manny, Clarice, and Noah and always strived to give them every opportunity to succeed and grow. He enjoyed travelling with his children, whether it was to family reunions in Hong Kong, or road trips to visit friends and family around the US and Canada. Edmund loved to cook and “experiment” in the kitchen for his family. He and his daughter Clarice took a food tour trip last summer to experience southern cuisine. Edmund never met a single slice of pie that he didn’t love and was often heard spreading the gospel of his favorite, the ABC pie (apple, blueberry, cherry) to all who would listen.

Edmund was an avid reader and music lover. No matter when you might see him he always had a book tucked under his arm. Throughout his life he enjoyed music and live concerts. He enjoyed collecting records and listened to a diverse range of music. In 2017 both he and his son Manny were able to see one of his favorite artists, Bruce Springsteen. He and Manny saw many more acts since 2017 including the Flaming Lips and David Byrne.

In addition to books and music, Edmund was also a movie buff and was a particularly dedicated fan of the Star Wars franchise. His love for the stories and characters led him to follow the whole series ending with the final installment, The Rise of Skywalker, which he was very proud to tout he saw four times while it was in the theatre.

Family will always remember Edmund as an optimistic, caring father, brother, and uncle. He loved his children dearly. He was a selfless, generous man who always looked out for his loved ones. Edmund cherished all the special moments he was able to spend with his children and talked about them often. He experienced life to the fullest and wanted to share the good times with family and friends.

Edmund leaves behind his son, Manny; daughter, Clarice; stepson Noah; mother, Fong Chee Ko; sisters Mary and Alice, brothers Raymond and Francis, and many nephews and nieces.

Edmund’s steadfast positivity, boundless energy, and congenial sense of humor will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a memorial service to celebrate Edmund’s life will be held at a date and time to be announced.