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A promise kept

Today is President David Skorton’s birthday, and among the gifts he will receive is one that honors Cornell’s graduate teaching assistants.

In his campaign for student-elected trustee in 2006, Mao Ye, Ph.D. ’11 (above, holding daughter Cornelia at 7 months, with wife Xi Yang, Ph.D. ’10), said he would create an award to support Cornell graduate teaching assistants. “I do what I say I’m going to do,” says Ye, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Illinois.

Ye, who hails from Yangzhou, China, promised Skorton and Robert J. Katz ’69, vice chairman of the Cornell Board of Trustees, that he would become an engaged alumnus. Following through, he has made a $25,000 gift to create a campuswide graduate teaching assistant award to recognize outstanding teaching, to which Katz has also lent his support.

The Cornelia Ye Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award is named for Ye’s daughter. “I attended the Center for Teaching Excellence’s STEM program, and it helped me increase my confidence and improve my English,” Ye says.

“As a former international teaching assistant, Mao Ye wanted to give something back to the programs that had supported him at the Center for Teaching Excellence. … the CTE [now] will be able to recognize the hard work and exemplary teaching of two graduate students each year,” said CTE director Theresa Pettit.

This year’s award recipients are Darrick Evenson in the field of natural resources and Sinja Graf in the field of government. Each will receive $500.

“My mom told me to tell people what you are going to do and then do it,” Ye says. “A promise is a promise.”

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