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Honoring Dr. CV Pao’s Legacy and His Impact on International Students

During his 40 years as a mathematics professor at NC State, Dr. Chia Ven Pao left a life-long impact on both the academic performance and the later personal and professional development of so many international students, particularly those from China who he also knew through his role as a faculty advisor of the Chinese Students & Scholars Friendship Association. He passed away on March 16, 2018, and in addition to being survived by his wife, his three sons, and his six grandchildren, he is remembered fondly by the large circle of his former NC State students, colleagues, and friends. 

Dr. CV Pao first came to the U.S. in 1960 from Taiwan. He came to State in 1969, one year after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He retired from NC State in 2002. Dr. Pao is highly regarded for his research contribution in non-linear parabolic and elliptic partial differential equations and the reaction-diffusion systems. During his tenure at NC State, he has produced 8 Ph.D. students, many of whom became mathematics professors in US universities. Dr. Pao helped establish and served as the faculty advisor to the Chinese Students and Scholars Friendship Association (CSSFA) for over two decades (1981-2002). His devotion to this organization gave a family environment for hundreds of international students/scholars and made a significant impact on their academic study and career paths in the US and beyond. To honor Dr. Pao’s legacy a group of alumni is working with NC State State Global to launch a fundraising campaign with the goal of establishing an endowed scholarship for international students.

Helping Students Realize Their American Dream: A Father Figure 

Dr. Pao is dearly loved and sadly missed by many of his former NC State students. Dr. Wei Feng, professor in Mathematics at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, got her Ph.D. under Dr. Pao’s supervision. She remembers Dr. Pao not just as her dissertation advisor but also as a father figure. When Dr. Feng first came to the U.S. in 1982, Dr. Pao helped her and other Chinese students adapt to life in the U.S. He assisted them with essential tasks like getting insurance as well as helping them adjust socially. She specifically recalls Dr. Pao picking up students in his little Volkswagen to drive to and from parties often requiring multiple trips. “He gave us support and family,” says Dr. Feng. Dr. Pao was a mentor and helped her realize her American dream. She says, “This is the spirit of Dr. Pao.” 

“He was like a father figure to us. We were young and naive when we first came to the U.S. Dr. Pao treated us like his own children. So many holidays and weekends he took us to his home and spent the time with his family as if we were part of his family. He taught us not only math but also pretty much everything about how to live in the U.S. He was one of those people who had a long-lasting impact on our lives,” says Dr. Weihua Ruan, professor of Mathematics at Purdue University Northwest. 

Advising International Students Through the Chinese Students & Scholars Friendship Association

Dr. Pao’s impact on the Chinese international student body at NC State goes beyond those Chinese students he mentored. In 1981, he served as a faculty advisor and helped the establishment of the Chinese Students & Scholars Friendship Association (CSSFA) at NC State. To this day, CSSFA helps Chinese international students to adapt to life in the U.S. and facilitates cultural exchange among Chinese, American and international students to foster mutual cultural understanding. 

Dr. Daniel (Quansong) Tong, Associate Professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences at George Mason University, met Dr. Pao through the CSSFS where Dr. Pao was the faculty advisor at that time. In 2002, Dr. Tong and Dr. Feng organized a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the student organization and celebrated Dr. Pao’s generous support of the Chinese students. “Dr. Pao has been a role model for me in many ways and has touched the lives of so many of us,” says Dr. Tong. 

Dr. Pao standing in front of a pyramid.
Dr. Pao

Honoring Dr. Pao’s Legacy and Carrying on his Spirit: Establishing an Endowment for International Student Scholarship

Dr. Taiping He, developer at SAS, and Dr. Xin Lu, professor of Mathematics at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, both former Ph.D. students of Dr. Pao got to know him and his family throughout the years with warm memories. Dr. He and Dr. Lu are among a group of alumni leading an effort to establish an endowment to honor Dr. Pao’s legacy. The endowment will provide financial support for future international students at NC State.

Dr. CV Pao’s Endowment Fund

This endowment fund is used to provide merit-based scholarships for graduate students at NC State. Preference will be given to students who meet one or all of the following criteria, with greater preference given to students who meet a greater number of the criteria:

  • Students who have lived in China, Hong Kong, Macau and/or Taiwan for at least one year.
  • Students who have a demonstrated interest in Chinese heritage and cultural exchange. Examples of demonstrated interest include, but are not limited to, students’ coursework and involvement in student organizations.
  • Students who have demonstrated records of engagement and leadership in community services to promote interracial understanding and friendship.
  • Students with a minimum cumulative 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, or the equivalent on other grade point scales.