Chang-Lin Tien, the seventh chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, was born on July 24, 1935, in Wuhan, China. In 1949, he and his family fled China's Communist regime for Taiwan. With an undergraduate degree from Nation Taiwan University, Tien arrived in the United States in 1956 to study at the University of Louisville. He earned his master's degree there in 1957 and then a second master's degree and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Princeton University in 1959.
Later in 1959, he became an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, where he would be a faculty member for 42 years. In 1962, at age 26, he became the youngest professor to receive the campus's Distinguished Teaching Award. He rose to full professor in 1968, later served as chair for seven years of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and, for two years, 1983 to 1985, was UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for research. In 1988, Tien left campus to be UC Irvine's executive vice chancellor. He returned to UC Berkeley in 1990 as chancellor and as the first Asian American to head a major research university in the United States.
Tien was a scientific consultant to many organizations, research laboratories, and private companies. He served on the boards of Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Wells Fargo Bank, the San Francisco Symphony, Princeton University, and the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Vimicro Corporation, a Chinese High-Tech start-up in Zhongguangcun, Beijing.