Students in the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas have no lack of praise for beloved professor Dr. Robert Yale.
“This is not an exaggeration: he is just fantastic,” junior Stephanie Lobo said. “He’s just a huge gift to have at UD. He is extremely smart, an amazing speaker, generous, funny and charismatic.”
“Like all students who have had Dr. Yale, I love him,” senior Jaime Birzer said. “He’s definitely one of the best teachers here at UD, and it’s so evident that he really cares about his students.”
Yale’s students have reciprocated this concern and generosity following Yale’s cancer diagnosis, which he announced on his blog at the end of March.
Yale confirmed that he has Stage 4 gastric cancer, which, in his case, is both incurable and inoperable.
He likely has around a year and perhaps up to five years to live. Although, only three percent of patients with Stage 4 gastric cancer survive that long, according to his blog.
Although this diagnosis is difficult news for him and his family, as well as his many students and friends, Yale said that he will maintain his trust in God and will remain hopeful.
“When you get news from a physician that you may have only a year to live, a lot of thoughts go through your mind,” Yale said in a statement on his blog. “After that flurry of mental activity slowed down, I was left with this: God loves me. God knows how my story ends. God knows when my story ends. I must trust Him through this journey, recognizing that He has all things in His control.”
At once, UD students moved to help the professor who has helped so many of them over his four years at the university.
Dr. Brett Landry, interim dean of the College of Business and associate professor of cybersecurity, said he was proud of the quickness and eagerness with which students took to their efforts on Yale’s behalf.
“[The Gupta COB] undergraduates did not wait for someone to do something. [They] saw an opportunity, and created a venue to help quickly,” Landry wrote in an email.
Alumnus Chris Goldkamp started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help pay for Yale’s medical expenses and to provide a tangible way of showing his support.
“I knew that prayers are of the utmost
utmost portance as I and all those who know Dr. Yale continue to pray daily for him,” Goldkamp said. “But for such a great man, with such a lovely family, we figured that we could do something on top of all the prayers. Knowing that any encounter with cancer can turn out to be incredibly expensive, I decided that we could try to raise at least some money to alleviate those direct and indirect costs.”
Goldkamp’s fundraising endeavor has already exceeded its goal of $2,500, a number he chose because he knew his pool of donors would mostly be composed of undergraduates and recent alumni — in other words, a group with limited funds available.
“$2,500 seemed like a noble but doable amount to raise,” Goldkamp said. “I am ecstatic that within a few days we hit the goal. We’ve had 64 donations, 92 shares on social media, and quite a few donations over a $100. As for the larger donations, I think it’s awesome that there were a few people in a position to [donate more money], and I’m sure Dr. Yale and his family are incredibly grateful … Overall, I’m very happy with the tremendous amount of support everyone was so ready to give for them. And I know that the prayers won’t be ceasing anytime soon.”
Birzer has begun collecting donations to create care packages for Yale, his wife Melissa and their two young children.
“It’s going to include cards and comfort gifts for not only Dr. Yale, but his family, too, because cancer takes a physical and emotional toll on the whole family,” Birzer said. “We’re now including cards and notes from anyone who would like to write one to Dr. Yale. I want to shower him with love and positive thoughts … There really aren’t words to describe the frustration, disappointment, confusion, hopelessness, anger, hurt, fear … just a whole spectrum of emotions that cancer causes. Dr. Yale is an exceptional human being, and I just hope he’s at least a little bit comforted in knowing how many people are here for him.”
Birzer hopes to reciprocate the support and comfort to Yale that he provided her when her father passed away from cancer a year ago.
“Cancer is obviously an issue near and dear to my heart … so I want to help in any way I can, and I want [the Yale family] to know they’re not alone, that he has an incredible amount of support and love behind him, because that was so wonderful to know when my family was going through the same thing,” Birzer said.
Lobo has begun raising money through a GoFundMe page to create wristbands saying “Pray for Dr. Yale” to distribute amongst his family and students.
Like Birzer and Goldkamp, she hoped to show her support for someone who has always shown her great kindness.
“He will give you all his time to help you learn more and become better,” Lobo said. “Not for his class even, but just as an overall person. He is one of the most generous people ever… He took [the three best impromptu speechwriters in his business communication class] to Del Frisco’s in Fort Worth, [and] everything on the menu was delicious and very expensive, but he let us order whatever we wanted. His wife came with us as well, and they are both great people. That was the best meal I have ever had in my life. I will never forget that night.”
A rosary was said at the Church of the Incarnation for the Yale family last Sunday.
In addition, two noon Masses this week have been offered for Yale’s recovery.