Former U.C. Berkeley chancellor remembered

By Olgar R. Rodriguez The Associated Press
Friday November 15, 2002

BERKELEY — Family, friends and University of California, Berkeley students remembered former Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien as a leader with infectious optimism and a professor with high expectations. 

More than 1,000 people gathered Thursday for a memorial service that celebrated Tien’s energy, his dedication and his love for the university’s football team. 

“No tribute to Chang-Lin would be complete without acknowledging his passion and commitment to the success of students,” said UC President Richard Atkinson. 

Tien died Oct. 29 after he suffered a stroke that resulted from surgery for a brain tumor. 

Tien was the first Asian-American to head a major U.S. university. He also was a fixture at Berkeley games and rallies. 

“He exemplifies the Cal spirit,” said Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl. 

His deep believe in Berkeley animated everything he did. 

Born in Wuhan, China in 1935, Tien’s family had to flee persecution twice. First, the family fled to Shanghai after Japanese troops invaded during World War II and a second time to Taiwan in 1949 after Chinese communists took control of the country. 

Tien got his doctorate degree from Princeton University in 1959 and, later that year, joined the Berkeley faculty, where he spent all but two years of his 40-year teaching career. 

He was appointed Berkeley chancellor from 1990 to 1997. Tien was an internationally known expert on thermal science and helped develop the insulating tiles for the space shuttle. 

Those present at his memorial also remembered him for his dedication to diversity and affirmative action. 

In 1995, UC regents voted 14-10 to drop UC’s affirmative action programs. Tien argued for keeping race-based admissions and later publicly lamented the drop in the number of Hispanic and black students at Berkeley following the vote. 

“We can best memorialize him by making certain this university remains an open place of opportunity,” Berdahl said. 

For his son, Norman Tien, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis, his father’s legacy will live on. 

“My father was a giant who straddled in so many different worlds,” he said. “He lives on in the hearts of each of the many people that he inspired in so many ways.” 

UC Berkeley’s marching band closed the memorial service with the school’s fight song. Tien’s name also will be immortalized at UC Berkeley where the Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies will be created.