Theresa Lim Mao
Theresa Lim Mao, Ph.D., GSAS '60, '64 is a retired chemist, businesswoman, and philanthropist. A native of Taiwan, she moved to the U.S. when she was 18 years old. In 1964, she was hired by Exxon Mobil Corporation, then known as Esso Research, as the company’s first female chemist with a doctorate. Unfortunately, when Mao was 46, her husband, Peter T.H. Mao, M.D., died suddenly, leaving her to provide for their two daughters and prompting a career switch to real estate investment.
Though Mao was raised Presbyterian, she became a devout Catholic as a teenager and chose Fordham because of its Catholic background. While Mao loved Fordham, she was disappointed there were no religious events and retreats for graduate students. Fueled by this, Mao recently started a fund—part of a planned gift that designates Fordham as a beneficiary of her individual retirement account—to support Campus Ministry retreats and dinners for graduate students.
“If we contribute something to society instead of just making money and serving ourselves, in a small way, we can make the people around us happier,” she said. “If all of us can do a little bit of that, that would be really wonderful.”