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​Last word: Generosity

Written by Rachel “Riley” Rosenfield, MD

When I found out that I was accepted at Washington University, I was thrilled. The biomedical engineering program was everything I'd been hoping for, the campus was beautiful, and there was a great sense of community from the students. There was only one problem — finances. My family was going to help me, but only if the cost was equivalent to my state university. I'd already been accepted as a Woodward Scholar, but it was still out of reach.

The generosity of the Tao family helped push WashU into being financially feasible for me. I was fortunate to meet Bill and Anne several times during my time at school at the scholarship dinner, and they were always so warm and welcoming. While at school, I made amazing friends, was very involved with EnCouncil, and had a great springboard into post-collegiate life, first as a consultant with Accenture for a few years, and now as an emergency medicine physician. The generosity of people like Bill and Anne Tao encourages us to pay it forward, both emotionally and financially.

Rachel Rosenfield earned bachelor's degrees in applied science and biomedical engineering from the School of Engineering & Applied Science in 2008 and an MD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is an emergency medicine physician at Littleton Adventist Hospital in Littleton, Colorado.




William K.Y. Tao

William K.Y. Tao has made significant contributions to the School of Engineering & Applied Science since he earned a master's in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis in 1950. He established the university's first annual named scholarship program in 1974 in the School of Engineering. Today all of the university's schools have named scholarship programs.


Bill and Anne Tao at the White House in 1972. Courtesy photo.

After earning a master's degree at WashU, he became a full-time instructor in Engineering. He continued as an affiliate professor after starting his own engineering consulting business, William Tao & Associates Inc., in 1956. Since 1965, he also has been an affiliate professor at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

Respect for education, embedded in his upbringing in China, remains a key element in his personal philosophy. Recognized internationally as a leader in engineering systems design, Tao is responsible for many innovative, energy-effective concepts and applications. A trustee emeritus, Tao formerly served on the National Council for the School of Engineering & Applied Science. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1971, an Engineering Alumni Achievement Award in 1982, and the William Greenleaf Eliot Society Annual Search Award in 1990. In addition, he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1997.

Tao, who turned 100 this year, has received numerous additional honors for his professional achievements, humanitarian work and community service. He and his wife, Anne, reside in St. Louis. They have three sons and six grandchildren.