In Chang-Lin Tien, a leader to emulate

October 2, 2018

This week we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library and the Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies — the latter named for Berkeley’s seventh chancellor. These events, for me, bring Chang-Lin even more vividly to mind. He was, of course, the first person of Asian descent to lead a major American research university. He was also an extraordinary leader, and an important model and mentor to me.

When Chang-Lin became chancellor, in 1990, I was the provost of Letters and Science, under the two-provost system that Berkeley had at that time — a provost for L&S and a provost for the professional schools and colleges. In 1994, Chang-Lin reorganized his administration, and I became the provost and executive vice chancellor. I worked closely with him until he stepped down in 1997.

Since I became chancellor myself last year, Chang-Lin has been constantly on my mind; I’ve been particularly conscious of everything I learned from him about leadership. He was, as I said, an extraordinary leader; I’ve often tried to reflect on what made him so.


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