The time has come for a change, for me and the Yale Alumni Association (YAA). After over seven years as the YAA’s executive director, I am stepping down and looking forward to retirement.
As I contemplate this change, I share with you my Yale journey.
I wasn’t planning to attend Yale College. My father was a professor at the University of Hawaii where he and I planned for me to attend after I graduated from high school. I nevertheless applied to Yale for fun (in retrospect, I can’t explain why I thought applying would be fun). When I was accepted, my father, whose motto was “education is the most important thing,” agreed I could attend Yale. Years later, I realized the sacrifice he made financially and emotionally by sending his only daughter to school 5,000 miles away.
I loved Yale College and based on my grades, I think my father concluded that what I really loved was socializing. He was partly correct, as I learned a lot from the great friendships I developed as an undergraduate.
I’ve also been rewarded with great friendships from my years of volunteer service for Yale beginning in the early 1980s when I organized dinners in Honolulu and Washington, DC for former University presidents Bart Giamatti and Benno Schmidt. I fondly recall Bart introducing me to a U.S. senator at a Capitol Hill reception by saying “Senator, I’d like you to meet my good friend, Weili Cheng.” I still feel honored that he called me a “good friend”!
As I continued my Yale journey, I have been fortunate to develop meaningful friendships these last seven years while serving Yale in a staff role. I’ve connected and reconnected with alumni and worked with wonderful colleagues and volunteers on a wide variety of projects and challenges. Together we have shared in the pride of further developing and growing the YAA’s programs and offerings in support of the alumni community.
After all these experiences, I can confidently say that today the university is better than ever and continues to advance its mission for excellence in teaching and research, to foster a culture that welcomes all viewpoints and experiences, and endeavors to make this world a better place. The students, faculty, facilities, and resources are most impressive. With its graduate and professional schools, Yale advances the multi-disciplinary research and teaching needed to tackle the world’s most difficult problems.
I’d like to thank my husband Brad Dobeck and son Stephen Dobeck ’10 (PC) for supporting my over 40 years of service to Yale as a volunteer and most recently as YAA executive director. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, especially our grandson!
People ask me if I am sad about leaving Yale behind when I retire and are surprised when I emphatically say “no!” I have never left Yale behind. When I graduated in 1977, I took Yale with me. I will continue to volunteer and participate in Yale activities and nurture all the Yale friendships I have gained. I look forward to seeing you at a future Yale event. Please join me in continuing to provide advice, feedback, and support to our beloved institution, and welcoming my successor when appointed.
“But time and change shall not avail to break the friendships formed at Yale.”
Weili Cheng ’77, Pierson College
Yale Alumni Association