A real leader and friend

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Dear Tim:

I am sorry to learn of the passing of your father, Professor James T. P. Yao. The profession and society-at-large has lost a real leader and friend.

I first met Professor Yao in 1985 when I started my graduate studies at Purdue University. There are many things that I remember about him---he was always in the office early, always had a smile on his face, was always helpful, caring, gentle, and respectful of students, saw the potential and best in people around him, and was always willing to help others. His role model as a teacher, mentor, researcher, and administrator have influenced me in a significant way. I have tried to carry his effective nurturing practices forward with students, faculty, and alumni I work with today.

I attended the ASCE National Education Conference in 1995 in Denver, CO. Professor Yao organized the conference. This was the most important education conference ever held by ASCE. The conference report made 4 recommendations one including moving toward the Master's degree as the professional degree. Of course this recommendation was met with a great deal of opposition from within the profession. Opposition to change is not always easy nor desired but can signal room for dialog and future change. Since 1995, ASCE Policy 465 Academic Prerequisites for Licensure and Professional Practice has been passed which advocates for additional beyond the BS to practice in the future. Through dialog and feedback, the policy has been refined 4 times. Professor Yao is credited for initiating the process and dialog for the civil engineering profession to rethink educational requirements to practice in the future.

He will be greatly missed as he touched many lives. Those he touched must carry his legacy forward.

Please accept my deepest sympathy.

Respectfully Yours,


Jeffrey S. Russell, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor and Chair
Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison