I go to arguably the greatest public institution of higher learning in the world. The man who kept it that way so that both tours of duty were at said greatest public institution is Chancellor Tien. He piloted the university through the downturn in the economy in the early '90s, and kept the university competitive with other research universities. Even after all that, we still ranked first in graduate program rankings in the first survey after that tumultuous time.
He worked tirelessly for affirmative action. Being in one of the first classes at Berkeley admitted after the Regents' ban, this was something I was concerned about, and knowing I was entering a university headed by this man who had worked so tirelessly to keep students coming here. Thus it came as a shock to find that this great man was retiring when my mother pointed out the copy of the SF Chronicle at the post office that summer before I came to Cal.
I was a freshman, and had some enthusiasm, so I wrote him a long letter pleading him to stay for the sake of a university I had already come to love. Something in it, either the handwriting or the pleas, struck him, because two weeks later, there was a letter in my mailbox from the Office of the Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley. I opened it, and there was a letter from Tien, with clues that he'd read my letter.
Because the search process to find a new chancellor would take a while, he served as Chancellor during my freshman year at Cal, where he visited the students in the dining hall, and did other things like that. He was a big fan of Cal sports, and we'd see him at a lot of the games. Berdahl, the chancellor that came after Tien, has never had the same luster, and never has been as friendly with the students. It's a bit of a shame.
And now I found out that had Tien not interviened at a crucial moment, the program I'm in now (the School of Information Management and Systems) would never have existed.
So here's to you, Chancellor Tien, and I hope there's a reward for all the great work you did in this life.