To the Teachers College Community:
We are saddened beyond words to inform you of the passing this past Friday evening of Ye (Angel) Wang, Professor of Deaf & Hard of Hearing (DHH).
The loss of Professor Wang is a devastating blow for her students, to whom she was fiercely devoted; for the College, where she was an innovative program and classroom leader; to the field of deaf education, for which she was a bright star; and to her family, whom she adored.
Inspired by a father who was born deaf in rural China but taught himself to read by working in a printing house, Professor Wang passionately believed in the talent and limitless potential of all individuals.
In her three books and many peer-reviewed articles, Professor Wang consistently held that, as she put it, “individuals learn in so many ways, so we have to keep an open mind.” Documenting that DHH students’ progress (albeit more slowly) through all the classic stages of language learning, she developed alternative pathways to literacy for many special-needs children. In a landmark 2006 study, Professor Wang and a colleague, Professor Beverly Trezak, showed that “visual phonics” – hand symbols representing the English language’s 44 phonemes – helped DHH kindergarteners and first graders significantly improve their reading skills.
Professor Wang, who also had served as Co-Director of Teachers College’s Institute for Psychological Science and Practice, brought the same combination of idealism and flexibility to her own teaching. During the COVID pandemic, she quickly emerged as a trailblazer in online instruction, using closed captioning, electronic hand-raising and other aspects of the medium to more fully engage DHH students, non-native English speakers and others. Ultimately, she felt, everyone in the room benefited from her approach. She said, “I want my students to broaden their horizons and be good teachers and good human beings.”
Ye Wang was an exceptionally good and caring teacher and human being. She also possessed a terrific sense of humor. Her daughter Amy notes that her mother “joked about retiring from academia to pursue her true callings in advertising, stand-up comedy, hand modeling, among other things.”
Teachers College and the world have lost an extraordinary teacher, scholar, and human being far too soon. We extend our condolences to Ye’s husband, Yong Su, and to her children, Amy Su and Stone Su.
We are planning a memorial service for Ye Wang, and will announce the date and time as soon as we finalize the details.
Now and going forward, let us honor Professor Wang’s memory by dedicating ourselves to building on her remarkable contributions and example.
President, Teachers College
Provost and Dean of the College