In memory of Professor Huong (Ngo) Higgins, 1963-2020
A year ago, on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, Huong Ngo Higgins died at the age of 56 of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Huong was a professor at the Business School at WPI. She is survived by her husband Read; her children, Annie (a student at WPI) and Conan; her mother, Cut Vo; and her brothers Kuong and Pham Ngo.
Huong was born on December 5, 1963 in Saigon, Vietnam, to Kiet Tuan Ngo and Cut Vo. In 1990 she graduated from the University of Saigon in English and French. In 1991, Huong and her family came to the United States. She met Read while studying at Georgia State University and married her in February 1995. After completing her PhD in accounting, they moved to Worcester, MA, where Huong began her 22-year career as a professor at the WPI.
Huong was a dedicated business school professor at the WPI. Her passion was making sure the WPI students learned and understood the basics of business. She has conveyed this passion to a generation of WPI students in her courses on the financial fundamentals of the economy. In addition to economics majors, Huong’s courses were attended by a variety of engineering, science, and other majors at the WPI who learned key business principles of value to their lives and careers. Together with Associate Professor Fabienne Miller, she received the Bea Sanders / American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Innovation in Teaching Award in 2016 for a project entitled “UBuild: A Simulation Bridging Financial and Managerial Accounting”. She was a strong advocate of financial literacy and believed that any student would benefit from financial literacy, ”Miller said.
Her commitment to teaching included a deep compassion for her students. One student recalled:
“I remember her smile and how she explained difficult topics so easily to the whole class. Not only was she an excellent teacher, she also helped me through a difficult period. She explained the topics to me again on days when I felt really bad and got me excited about life again. Their commitment, their energy, their passion were so contagious that I became more enthusiastic about finance than ever. “(Quote from Legacy.com)
Professor Higgins conducted research on global accounting practices and examined how institutions in different countries influence the behavior of market participants. She has published numerous publications in leading business journals and served on the editorial board of the Journal of the International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation. She was a co-principal investigator on a 2014 National Science Foundation award of $ 515,000 for research into developing visual analytics tools to detect financial risk and fraud in real-time streaming data. As a Certified Public Accountant in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, she also worked as a consultant for organizations.
Huong was an active participant in the life of WPI. She has served on most of the business school’s committees, including the Tenure, Undergraduate Curriculum, and Graduate Curriculum Committees, including serving as committee chair. For the WPI, she worked on the Advisory and Student Life Committee and on the Student Affairs Committee of the WPI Board of Trustees. She was a frequent member of the Fringe Benefits Committee. She also regularly wrote referrals to help students apply for graduate school. Your commitment to the WPI and its business school is greatly appreciated by your WPI colleagues and students.
Huong was similarly devoted to her family. She was a great mother who went out of her way to prepare her children for the challenges of life. She was also an avid gardener. She enjoyed singing and traveling with her family. She also found time to teach herself to juggle and loved to dance. Huong was a practicing Buddhist and found great comfort in meditation and temple visits. She is deeply missed by her family, WPI colleagues and students, friends, and everyone who knew her.