Former Chancellor Tien Dies





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Former Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien, a tremendously popular leader known for his energy and enthusiasm toward students who led UC Berkeley through a state budget crisis and was a persistent advocate for diversity in higher education, has died. He was 67.

Tien passed away Tuesday night in Redwood City at the Kaiser Permanente hospital. A brain tumor had forced hospitalization in September 2000. While hospitalized, he suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered.

He broke several milestones in his career here, including becoming the first Asian American to lead a major research university. He was the seventh chancellor of UC Berkeley, serving from 1990-97.

"Last night the light that so brilliantly shines from our great university flickered for a moment," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl. "One of our brightest leaders and dearest friends has left us.

"Chang-Lin was an exceptional leader during one of UC Berkeley's most challenging periods, a time of severe budget cuts and political changes," Berdahl said. "His energy and optimism, his willingness to fight for the principles he cherished and his loyalty and love for this campus made it stronger and better."

Tien, who spent all but two years of his career at UC Berkeley since coming here as an assistant professor in 1959, was known by students for his infectious personality and his warmth toward students. He was known for his "Go Bears!" spirit, often leading cheers at game day rallies. Tien once walked to a student's apartment to personally return a lost wallet he found.

The former chancellor was a leading supporter for affirmative action and came out as a strong opponent of the UC Board of Regents' 1995 vote to ban the use of racial preferences in university admissions.

"Even as chancellor-people know I'm the chancellor-but still I cannot escape from racism and biased views in society," Tien told the Daily Cal in 1995. "So we are not in a colorblind society. We cannot say everybody gets exactly the same kind of treatment. We do have disadvantaged groups, and we should lend some help to them."

Responding to the regents' vote, Tien launched a new outreach program, the Berkeley Pledge, aimed at expanding the university's reach to the state's public schools and community colleges, intended to recruit underrepresented minorities for higher education.

"We care deeply about preserving the diversity that is essential to the excellence of Berkeley," Tien said in 1995, two months after the regents' vote. "We care about serving you, the young

people, who encompass all of California."

Tien also managed the campus through the devastating budget cutbacks in the early 1990s, when a shrinking budget required a painful 18 percent cut in state funding to UC. The chancellor made some unpopular decisions at the time, including not to grant the pay increases top administrators were seeking, causing some to leave the campus. The budget cuts and severe economic problems also forced the regents to implement an early retirement policy, leading more than a quarter of senior faculty members to leave.

But Tien countered those challenges and became a prodigious and energetic fundraiser. He presided over the completion of the main stacks expansion project in Doe Library. He launched "The Promise of Berkeley-Campaign for a New Century" fundraiser in 1996, a high-profile bid that ultimately raised $1.44 billion to pay for research, buildings, faculty positions and scholarships. One of his lasting legacies was reaching out to donors in East Asia, encouraging them to reach out-with their pocketbooks.

Many students who attended UC Berkeley during Tien's term as chancellor remember him as extremely well-liked on campus. Tien was often seen briskly walking around campus in his blue blazer, popping into classrooms, chatting with students on Sproul Plaza, picking up litter and throwing it away.

Tien started his term in the midst of a number of tragedies, from the death of three students in a fraternity fire to the slaying of a student at Henry's Publick Bar and Grille. He swiftly consoled students and parents, establishing his image as a chancellor who personally cared for the campus.

"He was so unique in that he would relate to so many different groups of people," said former Cal football coach Steve Mariucci, who recalled Tien attending football training camp in Turlock, Calif. "He would show up in places in which you would least expect him."

Tien had been considered for positions such as UC president and secretary of energy under President Bill Clinton.

Born in China in 1935, Tien moved to Taiwan in 1949 during the Chinese civil war. From a poor family, he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at National Taiwan University and went on to a fellowship at the University of Louisville in 1956, where he received a master's degree in heat transfer. He received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Princeton University.

Tien joined UC Berkeley as a mechanical engineering assistant professor in 1959, and three years later, at the age of 26, became the youngest professor ever to be honored with UC Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award. From 1983-85, he served as vice chancellor of research. In his only two years away from Berkeley since 1959, he served as UC Irvine's executive vice chancellor from 1988-90.

Tien is survived by his wife, Di-Hwa; his son, Norman, an electrical and computer engineering professor at UC Davis; and two daughters, Christine, Stockton's deputy city manager, and Phyllis, a UC San Francisco physician.

"He was an exceedingly successful chancellor in a very rough time," said I. Michael Heyman, chancellor of UC Berkeley from 1980-90. "He had to deal with keeping the momentum of the campus going even though the fiscal time was tough."

The campus will hold a memorial service on Nov. 14 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall.

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