I remeber Uncle Tien

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Roger Lee

Nov 1, 2002, 4:15:51 AM11/1/02

Before I attended Berkeley at 91, I never knew the head of my future alma
mater is Chang Lin-Tien, a short smiling man that have no problem passing
from one of those family friends or "uncle" that your parents are always
cajoling you to remember. I knew nothing about this man before, and lived in
complete oblivion of who he was until my second semester.

I have not felt an ownership of Cal before I met him. For me, this was just
another institution where those in charge are not sympathetic with their
wards, nor possess any kind of quality you can call human. After meeting him
at the Chancellor's Welcoming Dance, (One handshake) I was shocked to know
one of my own countrymen was in charge of the most prestigious public
college in the world, in a society dominated by white. (Granted I am biased
about Cal.)

A few snapshots;

His jovial powers walk through the high-fiving students tabling at Sproul

Bad engineer hair-cut and rimmed glasses.

His badly accented war cry on behalf of Cal's football team.

Cal's blue and gold sweat shirt over his shirt and tie.

On weekend, I was showing my two visiting friends attending UC Irvine
through campus when I bumped into Uncle Tien walking through the campus. I
stopped him and introduced my friends to him (He had no idea who I was, nor
should he) and he chatted congenially with them, recalling his days at
Irvine as the vice chancellor, and inquiring after those touching stone
places at Irvine that he use to frequent. In parting, I took a picture of
Uncle Tien with my friends. In it, you see a man smiling proudly, as if my
two friends were his children and he was proud of their achievement.

The Chinese has a saying, "Teacher for a day, father for a lifetime." I like
to think Uncle Tien was always proud of the students who call Cal Alma
Mater, and I like to think he took special pride in seeing Asian-American
student survive and thrive on Cal. I like to think the growing Asian
population and the growing racial diversity on campus, come affirmative
action or high water, was his vision and goal.

Having a few more years behind me now, I can now speak out the reason why
Uncle Tien will be the defining part of my college education, more than any
other faculty, with whom I've spends much more time with. What I felt then,
and what I can say now is this. Uncle Tien made me realize that it's
possible to succeed, even in America. What makes to the evening news or
newspaper are the various flying lawsuits about discrimination, racial quota
and bigotry. We hardly hear about people succeeding despite of those
factors. Having Uncle Tien being the Chancellor of UC Berkeley was an
inspiration, knowing that you don't have to let the bastards grind you down.

When I remember him, I will always remember hope.

When all it's said and done, there's really only one thing you need to
remember when you think about Uncle Tien.

"Go Bears!" (Chinese accents and all)

With abiding respect,

Roger T. Lee

Uncle Tien's Obit can be found at


Raymond To

Nov 25, 2002, 11:51:33 PM11/25/02
Hey Roger,

After reading your email, I feel so much more gratefulness that there is a
fellow Cal grad out there with such a neat experience! I just graduated in
Dec of last year and really didn't feel the kind of fatherhood that you were
able to recieve. However, after reading your email some of your experience
has passed down to me. Thank you,

"Roger Lee" <tof...@pacbell.net> wrote in message

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