Remembering Chang-Lin Tien

06 November 2002 |

"Tien would give away more ideas in an afternoon than most people had in a career.”
-Harold Shapiro,
former president, Princeton University

“[He is] the very model of a philanthropy go-getter
When it comes to raising money, there is no one who is better.
Many a Cal alumnus would like to be obscurer
Because when Chang-Lin gives him the pitch, he’s wiser but he’s poorer.”

-From “To Chang-Lin Tien,” by Daniel E. Koshland, Jr.,
professor emeritus

“There is sometimes a divide between academics and athletics, but Tien helped bridge that gap so that it was one seamless operation.”
-Peter Wright,
men’s tennis coach

“In a place as big and as impersonal as Berkeley, building a sense of community is a difficult task. Chang-Lin did it in part by being everywhere. He walked the campus; he dropped in. I’m told his staff had a special telephone extension just for people to report ‘Tien sightings,’ so they could try to figure out where he was.”
-Carol Christ, vice chancellor and provost under Chancellor Tien

“Dr. Tien was a model of integrity, clear principles, and the highest standards. His example and conduct taught us all many important lessons:

Never stop learning
Constantly strive to improve whatever you do
Think about all possible angles of a situation
Turn difficulties into opportunities
Think positively
Always treat others with respect and humanity
Stand by your principles
Treasure your heritage, and
Always put family first.”

-Nancie Hughes,
Prof. Tien’s executive assistant

“I believe that, at a fundamental level, Tien saw us all as children of God, and he knew that life is filled with pain and joy. His personal experiences with the worst elements of racial discrimination allowed him to see injustice in the circumstances of racial disparity and reach out to those on the margins of life.”
-Ralph Carmona,
former UC RegentM

“Just like my father taught me how to walk, ride a bike, and fly a kite, Professor Tien taught me how to walk, ride, and fly in the academic life, then stepped back and enjoyed seeing me run through it.”
-Arun Majumdar,
professor of mechanical engineering and a former graduate student of Tien’s

“As the first Asian American to lead a prestigious American research university, he was a role model for all of us who are minority. Yet he always insisted that he was no role model, that he was an ordinary person who happened to be blessed with exceptional opportunities.”
Jesús Mena,
former director of Public Information

“One year he walked into VLSB at the end of a Cal Student Orientation program, chatting away with new students and parents the whole time. It’s a CalSO tradition for the Cal Band to enter and play the song ‘Time Warp’ from ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ Chancellor Tien joined right in and did the ‘Time Warp’ with everyone else. That was Tien to me: Eager to meet with students and parents, and not afraid to take ‘a jump to the left and a step to the right.’”
-Marty Takimoto,
former director of New Student Services

“Chancellor Tien’s effort to make the start of each semester much easier for students was called Smooth Transition, and its central tenet was reducing or eliminating student lines in Sproul Hall. His campaign succeeded overwhelmingly. Ending the interminable Reg Week lines at Berkeley is an achievement that ought to be worth at least half a Nobel Prize.”
-Bob Laird,
former director of Undergraduate Admissions

“He knew as much about our opponents as we did. He also once claimed he beat Jason Kidd in a one-on-one match, but I could never find a witness to corroborate that.”
-Ben Braun,
men’s basketball coach

“He’s a big man, but he gets right down here with the rest of us. It makes us feel better about this campus.”
-Dae Joh,
parent of a new freshman, after meeting Tien during Welcome Week


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