Decades of Positive Change

Bilin Tsai with faculty
May 10, 2017

UMD professor receives President’s Award for Outstanding Service.

Dr. Bilin Tsai (seated, center) with colleagues from UMD's Swenson College of Science and Engineering

What is most noteworthy about Dr. Bilin Tsai isn’t the list of important positions she has held at UMD – although the list is impressive. Instead, it is the change she has made in  the lives of women and individuals who are underrepresented in our classrooms and offices. Since her arrival at UMD in 1976, she has mentored students and faculty across the campus but especially in the sciences and led UMD on a path toward diversity, acceptance, and respect for all.

Bilin Tsai

Dr. Bilin Tsai

This work has earned her high praise. On May 3, Bilin Tsai professor and UMD administrator was presented with the 2017 University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Service.

“Many of us on the UMD campus have benefitted from Bilin's generosity of time, mentoring, and sound advice,” says Andrea Schokker, head of civil engineering. “She is widely respected on campus and in the community as a steady voice for inclusion, strong student educational opportunities, and exceptional planning for the future.”

When Dr. Tsai arrived at UMD, she began by teaching courses in general and physical chemistry. Along the way, she took on several high level administrative positions including department head, college of science and engineering associate dean, interim associate vice chancellor for academic administration, and interim executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.  

In addition to her demanding schedule, Dr. Tsai provided leadership in establishing the women’s studies minor, emphasizing academic expectations and skills during the freshman orientation program, and creating and advancing an inclusive campus climate. She co-lead the campus unit change team.  

“She has shaped so much of UMD’s culture in a positive way that it is hard to imagine what our community would be like without her, ” says Schokker.

Dr. Tsai received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina.  She completed a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Nebraska before joining the UMD faculty. Her research area was in single photon spectroscopy and molecular energy levels.

Established in 1997, the President’s Award for Outstanding Service is awarded to University of Minnesota faculty and staff who have provided exceptional service to the University, its schools, colleges, departments, and service units; such service must have gone well beyond the regular duties of a faculty or staff member, and demonstrate unusual commitment to the University community.

Dr. Tsai and her fellow honorees will be recognized at a University Board of Regents meeting on May 12, and again on June 15 at a reception to be held at Eastcliff, President Kaler’s official residence.

Department of Chemistry and Bio-Chemistry.