Graduate student passes away after year-long cancer battle


Sam Zern, Editor in Chief

After a year-long battle with cancer, Vanderbilt graduate student Ziliang Zhang passed away Sunday morning, surrounded by friends and family. Zhang was a fourth year mathematics graduate student and was working on completing his dissertation. He also served as a calculus teaching assistant.

Zhang is survived by his parents and fiancé, and is remembered as being kindhearted and always willing to help those in need.

The Dean of Students notified campus of Zhang’s passing late Sunday evening. The full text of the email is below.

Dear Vanderbilt Students,

It is with great sadness that I share with you the news that Vanderbilt graduate student, Ziliang Zhang, passed away this morning surrounded by family and friends after a year-long battle with cancer. Originally from the Henan Province, China, Ziliang was in his 4th year of graduate studies in mathematics. He passed his Ph.D. qualifying exams last spring and was working on completing his dissertation. Ziliang served as a TA for many calculus sections while studying at Vanderbilt.

As an undergraduate student, Ziliang attended Chongqing University in Chongqing, China where he received a Third-Class Scholarship for Excellence in Overall Quality Outstanding Graduate award upon completion of his degree in 2012.

Ziliang was an avid reader, kindhearted, and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. He is survived by his fiancé and his parents. We extend our deepest condolences to Ziliang’s family and friends.

We urge grieving students seeking assistance to reach out to our support services available on campus:

  • University Counseling Center 615-32(2-2571)
  • Student Care Coordination 615-34(3-9355)
  • Center for Student Wellbeing 615-32(2-0480)
  • Office of Religious Life 615-32(2-2457)
  • The University’s Griefnet service 615-32(2-2457): available for support in person or by telephone

Please know that we are here to assist you. Do not hesitate to reach out.

Mark Bandas
Associate Provost and Dean of Students