A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Dreaming Big

By Mason Spirit contributor on December 12, 2017


The life of Long Nguyen is a monument to the idea of the American dream. Born in Vietnam during World War II, in a time and place of conflict, Nguyen came to the United States in the early 1960s for his education. An exemplary student, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics. When his visa expired, Nguyen had to return to Vietnam, where he was drafted into the army. An exemplary student, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics. When his visa expired, Nguyen had to return to Vietnam, where he was drafted into the army.

After the war, Nguyen was able to immigrate permanently to the United States. He received a PhD in computer science from Iowa State and became a university professor. In 1985 he founded a company, Pragmatics Inc., based in Reston, Virginia, which provides information technology solutions to federal agencies. Nguyen and his wife, Kimmy Duong, had two sons, Ben and Kim, both graduates of Langley High School and Harvard University. Pragmatics continues to grow, now employing more than 700 people, marked by a strong ethic of corporate responsibility and community service.

As ardent believers in the value of education, supporting George Mason University was a natural way for Nguyen and Duong to express their commitment to the region where they raised a family and where most of their employees live. Nguyen served on the Board of Visitors beginning in 2002; in 2009 the couple committed $5 million to the Volgenau School of Engineering. The engineering building, the largest on Mason’s Fairfax Campus, was named in their honor.

“We believe very strongly in education and chose to bestow this gift upon George Mason University because of our commitment to its future,” Nguyen said at the time the building was dedicated.

For all of their impact at Mason, the couple’s philanthropy extends far beyond. They give generously to higher education and to aid wounded veterans. Through Pragmatics, Nguyen has established relief funds for victims of natural disasters such as the Nepal earthquake, the Louisiana floods, Hurricane Sandy, and the Philippines typhoon. Nguyen personally matches his employees’ donations, dollar for dollar.

For these immigrants who dreamed big, giving itself is a patriotic act. “My family and I are extremely grateful for the opportunities and freedom we’ve been afforded since immigrating to the United States,” Nguyen says. “Where we are today—what we have achieved so far—is thanks to the American people.”


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