Chang-Lin Tien

Chang-lin Tien GBM (traditional Chinese: 田長霖; simplified Chinese: 田长霖; pinyin: Tián Chánglín; July 24, 1935 – October 29, 2002) was a Chinese-American professor of mechanical engineering and university administrator. He was the seventh Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley (1990–1997), the first Asian to head a major university in the United States.

Chang-Lin Tien

Seventh Chancellor of the
University of California, Berkeley
In office
Preceded byIra Michael Heyman
Succeeded byRobert M. Berdahl
Personal details
Born(1935-07-24)July 24, 1935
Wuhan, Hubei, China
DiedOctober 29, 2002(2002-10-29) (aged 67)
Redwood City, California, USA
NationalityUnited States
Spouse(s)Di-Hwa Liu (劉棣華)
Alma mater
ProfessionMechanical engineer, professor
Known forThermal science
Scientific career
FieldsMechanical engineering
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
ThesisTransport processes in two-phase turbulent flow (1959)


Early years

Born in Huangpi, Wubei, China, Tien and his family fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of the Chinese Civil War. He earned a BS in mechanical engineering from the National Taiwan University in 1955 and went on to a fellowship at the University of Louisville in 1956, where he received an MME in heat transfer in 1957. He then earned his MA and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from Princeton University in 1959.[1]


Tien joined UC Berkeley faculty as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering 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. He was promoted to full professor in 1968 and served as the Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1974 to 1981. From 1983 to 1985, he served as vice chancellor of research. Tien spent his entire career at Berkeley, except for 1988–90 when he was executive vice-chancellor of UC Irvine. In 1999, Tien received the prestigious title of "University Professor".[2]

Tien was an expert in thermal science and researched on thermal radiation, thermal insulation, microscale thermal phenomena, fluid flow, phase-change energy transfer, heat pipes, reactor safety, cryogenics, and fire phenomena,[2] authoring more than 300 research journal and monograph articles, 16 edited volumes, and one book.[3]

As chancellor, Tien was a leading supporter of affirmative action. After the Regents's 1995 ban of using of racial preferences in university admissions, Tien launched the "Berkeley Pledge," an outreach program designed to recruit disadvantaged students from the state's public schools. Amid an 18% budget cut, Tien launched "The Promise of Berkeley – Campaign for the New Century", a fundraising drive that raised $1.44 billion.[2]

Known for his "Go Bears!" spirit, Tien was very popular with students, often showing up at student rallies and sporting events wearing his "Cal" baseball cap. He was not uncommonly sighted picking up trash in Sproul Plaza, appearing in the library in the middle of the night during finals week, or checking up on students in the residence halls and classrooms.[2]

Tien was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Academia Sinica (in Taiwan), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (in mainland China). The Zi Jin Mountain Observatory in China named an asteroid "Tienchanglin" and a Chevron Corporation oil tanker was christened "M/T Chang-Lin Tien," both named in his honor. The Tien Center for East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley opened in 2008.[4]

Personal life

While he was chancellor, a young woman, Rosebud Denovo, was killed by police in the basement of the Chancellor's Mansion, during an apparent assassination attempt. He and his family were unharmed. Tien died in Redwood City, California at the age of 67. A brain tumor had forced him into hospitalization two years earlier, during which he suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. He was survived by his wife Di-Hwa, his son Norman Tien Ph.D., currently Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Hong Kong since June 2012, and daughters Christine Tien, Stockton's deputy city manager, and Dr. Phyllis Tien, a UC San Francisco physician (all of his children are graduates of Berkeley High School, California).[2][5] During his residency in the United States, Tien became an American citizen.[2]


Academic offices
Preceded by
Ira Michael Heyman
Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley
1990 – 1997
Succeeded by
Robert M. Berdahl
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