Business Educator For Georgetown U.

In South Vietnam, Pho Ba Long was labor minister and a university dean.
In South Vietnam, Pho Ba Long was labor minister and a university dean. (Family Photo - Family Photo)
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By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pho Ba Long, 86, an educator and government official in South Vietnam who became director of some of Georgetown University's entrepreneur training programs, died Feb. 17 at Inova Fairfax Hospital after a stroke. He lived in McLean.

Mr. Pho, the minister of labor in South Vietnam from 1967 to 1969, was one of the founders and then dean of the first school of government and business at Dalat University in South Vietnam. He also founded the university's graduate school of business and its social work school.

When the U.S. military withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, Mr. Pho and his family left as well and settled in McLean. He was soon appointed to the Governor's Employment and Training Council, serving from 1978 to 1982.

In the 1980s, Mr. Pho taught history to English-as-a-second-language students at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. In 1983, he joined Georgetown's School of Continuing Education and became director of Georgetown University's Vietnam Entrepreneur Training Program and the Georgetown Business Training Program in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

He was cited in the Congressional Record by Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), who called him "an American success story" and cited a letter Mr. Pho had written about the entrepreneurship program. In it, Mr. Pho compared a phrase from President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to Sun Yat Sen's doctrine of the three principles of the people, and said it properly described the bilingual effort to teach business skills.

"Thus, this training program for refugees, by refugees, and of the refugees themselves, derives its uniqueness from the essence of Lincoln's democratic principles," Mr. Pho wrote. After Americans began volunteering in the program, Mr. Pho added, "in my 25 years of teaching, and 11 years of refugee work, I have never enjoyed such a moment of quiet satisfaction as to contemplate the moving sight of bright, successful Americans committing themselves to work with the newest of their fellow citizens. Lincoln's democratic principles seem to embrace the young and the new Americans, not only in government, but in the universal convergence of humanity predicted by [French Jesuit philosopher] Teilhard de Cardin!"

He was born in Hanoi on April 25, 1922, and educated by Jesuit priests at St. Francis Xavier's College in Shanghai. He returned to Vietnam in 1940 and received the French baccalaureate degree four years later. After World War II, just before the French withdrew from Indochina, Mr. Pho received a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard University, where he received a master's degree in business administration in 1956. He was elected president of the Vietnamese Student Association of America.

His Fulbright allowed him to help six of his siblings move from Belgium to Boston. Mr. Pho returned to Vietnam and worked for Standard-Vacuum Oil Co.

He served on several national panels, including the National Economic Council in 1961 and on the board of the National Bank of Vietnam in 1965.

After immigrating to the United States, where he became an American citizen, Mr. Pho taught at Georgetown until retiring in 1995. Throughout the latter portion of his life, he assisted refugees like himself and volunteered in refugee camps throughout Southeast Asia.

Survivors include his wife of 46 years, Claire Dang of McLean; six children, Hong-Phong Pho and Hong-Quang Pho, both of Falls Church, Air Force Capt. Hong-Tam Pho of McKinney, Tex., Hong-Minh Pho of McLean, and Le-Thu Lodge and Long-Chau Pho Tung, both of Seattle; five brothers; four sisters; and 11 grandchildren.

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