A beloved Chinese psychology professor at the University of Southern California was stabbed to death by a student following an alleged “personal dispute” within the university campus on Friday afternoon.
Tjan, who is a known leading expert on vision loss research, reportedly sustained a fatal chest wound that killed him instantly. Los Angeles police stated that the incident happened inside the 50-year-old teacher’s 10th-floor office in USC’s Seeley G. Mudd Building at about 4:30 p.m. Brown was arrested at the scene and is now being held on a $1 million bail.
Tjan is a highly-regarded personality in the campus, having made several contributions not only to the university but to his students since joining USC as an assistant professor in the psychology department in 2001. In 2008, the school promoted him to associate professor and eventually to a full professor in 2015.
During his tenure in the university, he co-founded the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center where he served as its co-director up until the time of his death. He also directed the Laboratory for Functional and Computational Vision at the university.
USC’s Image Understanding Laboratory director and fellow colleague Irving Biederman also noted his contributions by leading a number of research projects while teaching a lab course on functional imaging to graduate students. It was the subject where Brown was one of five students. Another student who worked in the lab described Brown as “friendly” but “a little on the reserved side.”
“This was not a random act of violence,” USC’s Department of Public Safety announced in a press release.“The Los Angeles Police Department believes this was the result of personal dispute.”
Beijing native Tjan grew up in Hong Kong and emigrated to the U.S. with his family as a teenager. Biederman said the slain professor was a hard worker who served on several committees at the school.
“It was impossible not to love him once you knew him,” Biederman told the LA Times. “He was brilliant and incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly generous with his time and support.”
While an LAPD spokeswoman previously described the attack as “targeted”, the police have not commented on the possible motive in the slaying. Details on what exactly led to the killing have not been known as well.